Brazil and Croatia progress; Fekitoa acknowledges slow start at Munster

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


Brazil will face Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals on Friday after knocking out South Korea with a 4-1 win at Stadium 974. Ken Early reports from Stadium 974 last night, the final time that ground will be used before it is shipped elsewhere, in “the kind of dominant performance Brazil were looking for after a group stage in which they outplayed Serbia and Switzerland but scored only three goals, before losing with their reserve side to Cameroon.” In yesterday’s other World Cup Japan departed meekly in a penalty shootout defeat to Croatia; three of their first four efforts were weakly hit and easily saved. In today’s desert outtakes, hear from Ally McCoist who says he’d let Jude Bellingham date any of his daughters... Thanks for that, Ally.

The Champions Cup is upon us and Gerry Thornley looks at how the competition looks to be as competitive as ever. Of course, despite some UK journalists seeing it as a boring, safe choice, this year’s final is in the Aviva Stadium. The quest for the Irish provinces to secure silverware on home soil starts this weekend. Munster start their campaign at home to Toulouse and one man who is looking to improve on what has been an average start to his season is marquee signing Malakai Fekitoa. “I am slowly getting there. What I am proud about is that I am getting lighter on my feet and am making plays on both sides of the ball. It hasn’t connected yet, hasn’t come off in some decisions, but I know this is part of rugby and, as long as I have the right attitude, it will fall into place,” he says in an interview with John O’Sullivan. Of course, according to reports in the UK, today is the day England are likely to sack Eddie Jones, bringing an end to a seven-year tenure in charge.

Shane Walsh scored nine points as Kilmacud Crokes took home the Leinster championship over the weekend. His transfer to the Stillorgan outfit generated plenty of discussion, but in the three months since he first pulled on the purple and gold it has also generated plenty of silverware. Gordon Manning spoke to the new Crokes star.

Shane Lowry is tired and will be taking a break from competitive action until after Christmas. Speaking after finishing 18th out of 20 players at the recent Hero World Challenge, Lowry said: “I’m worn out and that’s me done till Abu Dhabi next year.” The weekend that made him so tired? 7 birdies, eight bogeys, four double-bogeys and two triple-bogeys. You would need a rest after that.