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Sportswashing in the GAA; Sexton to complete HIA process on Monday

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Limerick have been hit with haymakers and hurricanes, but somehow the All Ireland champions still have their house intact after Galway threw everything at them on Sunday in a thrilling semi-final. Kilkenny and Brian Cody are all that stand in their way of another crown, but as Keith Duggan points out this morning, that is a thorned and tricky ‘only’. Nicky English provides analysis of the Limerick victory, of how Galway reverting to an orthodox formation midway through stopped their issue of conceding puck outs, of how they showed no fear but 19 wides were there undoing as too often accuracy was not paired with their determination. Off the pitch, Malachy Clerking has some strong words for AIB’s sponsorship of the GAA: “You don’t have to go to Saudi Arabia to see sportswashing in action.” Clerkin continues: “The bank was handed a €119 million fine for its role in the tracker mortgage scandal, meaning one of the GAA’s headline sponsors is on the hook for the biggest ever fine imposed by the Central Bank for anything ever. When you consider that the Irish banking industry has, to put it delicately, been no stranger to scandals and breaches and fines down through the decades, that takes some doing.”

There are some crumbs of comfort in Ireland’s defeat to the All Blacks on Saturday. The last time they toured this country, the visitors overcame a heavy first Test loss to be denied a famous victory a week later only by some questionable scrum law interpretation and a late Dan Carter drop goal. Andy Farrell looks to be boosted by the availability of Johnny Sexton despite failing to reemerge after being hauled off for a HIA. The IRFU confirmed early this morning that the skipper is set to complete the remaining HIA process today, seemingly clearing the way for his return. Stuart McCloskey arrives in New Zealand on Monday in place of James Hume who has gone home with a groin injury, while Ed Byrne touched down on Saturday. Speaking after the defeat, Tadhg Beirne confirmed that Ireland need to shore up their breakdown interpretation after not getting the rewards they wanted during the Test.

Adrian Meronk became the first Polish winner on the DP World Tour when securing the Irish Open crown. He produced a scintillating streak of birdie-birdie-eagle from the 15th hole to close the deal and create his own piece of history. The German-born pole, wearing green and white shoes for luck at Mount Juliet, finished three shots clear and earned himself a payday of €974,605. As Philp Reid points out in his report: “No cigar, so to speak, for the Irish contingent. But each of the quartet who survived into the weekend’s fare left with positive vibes going forward, three of them initially to the JP McManus Pro-Am (starting today), but with their sights cast further ahead to next week’s historic 150th Open at St Andrews.”

At Wimbledon yesterday, Novak Djokovic stepped onto Centre Court at 1.45pm for a celebration of the court’s centenary year but in a scheduling faux pas did not start his match against Tim van Rijthoven until 8pm. The result was not secured until 11pm, just 21 minutes before the tournament’s curfew. In the women’s draw, world number two Ons Jabeur kept alive her hopes of becoming the first African player to win a Grand Slam title by beating Belgian Elise Mertens 7-6 (11-9), 6-4 in a little under two hours.