Morocco and Portugal into World Cup quarter-finals; GAA not budging on dates

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

The World Cup is down to it’s final eight teams after Morocco and Portugal completed the quarter-final line-up with last-16 wins on Sunday. Portugal benched their all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo and his replacement Goncalo Ramos rose to the occasion scoring a hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of Switzerland. They will face Morocco, who are into the World Cup quarter finals for the first time after a dramatic 3-0 penalty shoot-out victory over Spain. In his column this morning, Kevin Kilbane is looking ahead to England v France on Saturday: “Eventually Mbappé will find the space. His two goals the other night were phenomenal, mixing the characteristics of Messi, Zidane and Figo. There was no obvious defensive lapse by the Poles. He is unplayable.”

The GAA has confirmed a double bill of AIB All-Ireland club hurling semi-finals for Croke Park next Sunday week, December 18th – which means the headline game between Ballyhale Shamrocks and Ballygunner will clash directly with the World Cup final in Qatar. Sean Moran asks, what will we be saying about the GAA’s 2022 in the years to come?

Gordon D’Arcy explains in his weekly column how Ulster’s implosion against Leinster suggested they suffer from a failing he remembers all too well: “Last week I questioned whether Ulster would have the mental strength to be able to manage their ambition in a practical way on the pitch. The answer, purely on the evidence of what transpired at the RDS, was an emphatic ‘no’.”

Meanwhile, organisers have confirmed that Rory McIlroy will feature at next year’s Irish Open with the event moved to early September. The world number one missed this year’s Irish Open at Mount Juliet and says he is “looking forward to seeing the fans out in force at The K Club once again.”