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Paul O’Donovan ready to add to decorated career; essential steps for camogie

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

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are back in action on the world’s stage as the Olympic gold medallists lead the Irish challenge at the European Championships with rowing just one of nine sports being staged in Munich. Ian O’Riordan is bullish about the Irish chances in Germany, saying the question now is not if Irish medals shall be won, it is how many? “Now 28, O’Donovan will likely extend his status as one of the most decorated sportsman in Irish sporting history,” he writes. Meanwhile, the talented Lara Gillespie is back on track and aiming to deliver on her vast potential at the European Championships, as the versatile Wicklow cyclist has overcome illness and injuries and is focused on the challenges ahead as she prepares for Paris 2024.

Ciarán Murphy writes that free-taking in GAA at the highest level is the ultimate sporting gut-check, as Denise Gaule’s free in last Sunday’s All-Ireland camogie final was the ultimate pressure shot. “For Gaule, it was the simple belief that she had been there before, had worked harder than anyone to help her team get into position to win the game, and most of all — if it did go wide, she’d just chase the next ball with all she had. It was enough to secure glory for her county on Sunday,” writes Murphy. The magnificent final was a real turning point for camogie, writes Joanne O’Riordan, as the enthralling final was an essential step in bridging the perceived gap in quality between ladies football and camogie. “Camogie has an incredible opportunity to potentially catch up to ladies football. If that standard can be maintained, it will leapfrog ladies football, no problem, if the latter remains stagnant and dogged in its obsession with non-contact.” Elsewhere, Niamh O’Sullivan has been named Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman for July as the Meath forward scored 1-2 in her team’s All-Ireland final win over Kerry.

In sad news, former Irish Times soccer correspondent Peter Byrne has died. He was an author and Jack Charlton’s official biographer, the popular Dubliner covered soccer, boxing and athletics during a 38-year career for the paper. He had some unforgettable opening paragraphs such as this one “It was a memorable evening for Irish swimming here in the Olympic Pool,” he observed from the Montreal Olympics in 1976. “Nobody drowned.”

St Pat’s are bidding to complete a memorable giant-killing against CSKA Sofia tonight, as a Conference League play-off beckons if the Dublin club can see off the respected Bulgarian side. Beating Sofia in the first leg, “it was a result that reverberated around the European game. Coupled alongside Shamrock Rovers’ long-planned progress, the rest of the world is wondering whether this Irish footballing revolution might be sustainable,” Gavin Cummiskey writes. Now they must complete the job in the second leg in Tallaght. Meanwhile, Sligo Rovers are facing a daunting task as Viking come to town, as the Norwegian visitors who operate at a different financial level than the Irish club arrive with a handsome four-goal cushion.