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New Zealand’s rugby identity crisis; how Kerry’s kick passing creates space

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

Setting the defensive trap is benefiting Kerry in both defence and up front in the championship this year, and it is a point of analysis in advance of the All-Ireland football final against Galway on Sunday. “Another strength is their kick passing. They kick pass their way up into your 45 as opposed to Mayo and Dublin who run it in. The earlier the ball goes in, the more likely there is to be space. The opposition don’t have time to get back and set up in shape,” Limerick coach Maurice Horan says. Kerry selector Mike Quirke has credited the players with making “sacrifice for success” and is loving life as part of Jack O’Connor’s management team. For Galway, cool-hand Seán Kelly is the ideal on-pitch expression of Joyce’s leadership of Galway, but faces a tough task, penned in as the most likely shadow for David Clifford — easily the toughest job in Gaelic football right now

Limerick are brilliant hurling champions but there are chinks of light for other counties now, writes Joe Canning. Even though John Kiely’s side timed their run to perfection, several teams will think they are not too far away. “They didn’t blow teams out of the water this year like they did in 2020 and 2021. They beat Galway by three points and Kilkenny by two. Clare pushed them to extra-time in the Munster final. All three of those teams will go into next year convinced they’re not too far away,” writes Canning.

The New Zealand Herald on Sunday’s rugby correspondent Gregor Paul writes for The Irish Times in today’s subscriber only piece that Ireland did not just win a series in the country, they forced a national crisis. It is “an almost unprecedented time of hysteria about the All Blacks even among a history of mad moments where the public have entirely lost the plot”. He writes: “The collapse of the empire has been coming. Ireland were the last straw as it were — the team good enough to prise open the cracks and smash the All Blacks down — but the foundations have been weakening since early 2019.” Meanwhile, Leinster will open their campaign for the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup against Racing 92 of France on the weekend of December 9th, 10th and 11th after fixtures have been announced, Munster will play Toulouse, while Ulster will play Sale Sharks.

It was a good night in the Europa League qualifiers for Sligo Rovers as Aidan Keena’s lob earned the western side a brilliant win away to Motherwell. In front of over 7,000 supporters, including almost 500 from Sligo, the visiting team deservedly claimed a memorable triumph, just four days after losing feebly at home to UCD in the league. In the other game involving an Irish side, Chris Forrester inspires a revival as St Patrick’s Athletic keep the tie alive against NS Mura of Slovenia. The midfield playmaker scored the equaliser and came close to winning game with a late chance. In women’s Euros, Germany progressed to the semi-final but all eyes focus on the hosts and if “football is coming home” for the women’s team as newfound resilience bodes well for England’s hopes, writes Lisa Fallon, as the comeback win over favourites Spain was a huge step