Subscriber OnlySport

Munster’s rocky road ahead; RTÉ winners from Sky’s GAA pull-out

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

With Sky Sports failing to agree a deal to broadcast Championship matches any longer, RTÉ is the big winner as the GAA look to grow their streaming service GAAGO through exclusive live games. A new five-year broadcast deal also sees BBC expand its live coverage to include games involving Ulster teams. Seán Moran writes the GAA’s brave new media world arrives more quickly than anticipated. An unexpected impasse between the association and Sky has pushed the ambitious GAAGO to centre-stage in 2023. If GAAGO is the big news in the rights agreement, next is probably the intention to have a second highlights programme for the first time since the turn of the century. Elsewhere, Roscommon’s search to replace Anthony Cunnnigham is to end on Wednesday night. Davy Burke, Brendan Hackett and Pat Flanagan are the names being mentioned for the last intercounty post to be filled.

In today’s Subscriber Only piece, Gordon D’Arcy writes Munster are going in the right direction but the road ahead remains rocky. Exciting young players are emerging and Graham Rowntree and his coaching team are doing the right thing in committing to a regeneration process. “It will be frustrating at times, there will be erratic performances, but in backing youth where possible and practical and in changing the playing philosophy, Munster will reap the rewards down the line,” he writes. Munster coach Mike Prendergast believes Ulster could be “galvanised” by their tour woes. Prendergast pointed out that when Munster ran into Covid difficulties last season in South Africa and had to field a massively understrength side against Wasps in the Champions Cup on their return home, they managed to turn the saga into a driving force and went on to score a magnificent win in Coventry.

Meanwhile, Ireland coach Andy Farrell is undaunted by high expectations or a taxing schedule and is happy to embrace the juggling of games against the All Blacks and Springboks inside 24 hours. “It’s what I craved to happen because I want to keep finding out about ourselves, who can deal with the pressure and who can’t, and I’m talking about management as much as the player group,” Farrell says. Irish back Calvin Nash is eager to grasp any Irish opportunity as the Munster man is thrilled with his call-up after impressing on the recent Emerging Ireland tour to New Zealand.

In the Champions League, a match of narrow ambitions gets the result it deserves as Man City and Borussia Dortmund play out draw. Riyad Mahrez’s second-half penalty was saved as both sides qualify for last 16. Shakhtar Donetsk hit back to end Celtic’s European progression for another season as Ange Postecoglou’s side were consigned to last place in Group F as Europa League hopes fade. Kai Havertz’s stunning strike sent Chelsea into the Champions League last 16. RB Salzburg put up a fight after going a goal down before the German striker’s brilliant winner.