Gordon D’Arcy previews Wales vs Ireland; Matt Doherty signs for Atletico Madrid

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

“It’s been the elephant in the room, everyone knows it’s there, but no one has yet figured out how to successfully manage it.” Gordon D’Arcy today tackles the issue of how the Welsh clubs continue to be disconnected from the national side when it comes to form. He sees the WRU as using them as a mechanism for creating international players, rather than as entities that strive for success themselves. Ospreys have shown signs of revival this season, but at the RDS on Saturday night, Cardiff looked a side devoid of any belief that they could remotely challenge Leinster, even though they turned them over in the Arms Park last year. It begs the question, “what motivates players to show up every week because on that performance it wasn’t for the love of the game?” On the international front, our build-up to the Six Nations continues with a guide to Scotland, who of course now have Tipperary man Ben Healy in their ranks.

In rugby news on the pitch, it turns out Netflix’s Six Nations documentary isn’t as big a cash cow for the unions as one might have originally thought. Amid confusion as to the level of access the cameras will actually be granted, both Tadhg Furlong and Warren Gatland have recently expressed concerns about sharing too many house secrets, it has emerged the series will net each individual union €113,436.

Yesterday may have seen the expected decision of the CCCC to order a replay between Kilmacud Crokes and Glen, but don’t expect the match to take place any time soon. In fact, Seán Moran explains how there is nothing inevitable about the rematch even taking place at all. Crokes, for their part, have three days to make a decision on whether to challenge the mandated replay. Gordon Manning reports that there are conflicting views within the club as to the best course of action to take.

Transfer deadline day has been and gone but it was not without drama for Irish footballers. Matt Doherty was initially to leave Spurs on loan to link up with Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid. However, the move would have put Tottenham past the Fifa-permitted number of players on loan, so the London club opted to simply terminate the Dubliner’s contract instead. Doherty has put pen to paper on a free transfer that keeps him in Madrid for just six months, to the end of this season. Elsewhere, Katie McCabe remains an Arsenal player despite rumoured interest from Chelsea, but the club did spend heavily on their men’s side by breaking the English transfer record for Argentinian midfielder Enzo Fernandez (€120 million).