Hugo Keenan sends out a statement in Cardiff; Ken Early on Chelsea’s exuberant spending

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

Often the player of the match award is skewed by superficial, surface level criteria; how many times does the wing who touched the ball twice but both ended up being scores get the award despite the work of the backrow forward all game? Giving Hugo Keenan that gong on Saturday in Cardiff was no such injustice. Last time out in green vs Australia, he was part of a suspect aerial display from the Irish backthree. Not the case in the Six Nations opener. He reigned supreme in the skies, showed off his covering pace in defence and his link play in attack. Gerry Thornley has a full analysis piece on the fullback’s performance here. You can also read Andy Farrell’s thoughts on the upcoming French clash, as well as the five key takeaways from the Six Nations opener. Remember to sign up to Gerry Thornley’s new weekly rugby newsletter, you can do so here.

“Chelsea aren’t owned by a billionaire playboy or a Gulf state. Chelsea are owned by a private equity firm – that is, a giant blob of money that exists to make more money.” Ken Early looks at Todd Boehly’s exuberant spending this month and, simply speaking, tries to figure out what the thought process is. Pumping more money than most of the big leagues in Europe combined into one sole London club doesn’t scream solid investing, yet Chelsea’s American owners continue to hoard talent at whatever the cost. Time will be the ultimate judge of that strategy.

“We’re trying hard. Are we going to expose more players than we would in championship? Yeah. But the games are competitive. I’ve yet to see teams going out saying ‘Ah we’ll just try out twenty players’. We wanted to win that. They wanted to win that.” Davy Fitzgerald doesn’t like it when you say ‘Ah sure, it’s only the league.’ Fitzgerald’s team, Waterford, won the league last year only to disappoint in the championship, something that was used as a case in point by the anti-leaguers’ argument against the very point of it. Whether it means anything or not, Fitzgerald wants competitive hurling and that’s what he got in a dramatic draw with Dublin over the weekend. Elsewhere, in the football, Dublin kept their promotion bid on track with victory over Limerick, Mayo were held to a draw once again, this time by Armagh while Kerry kept up their winning start in the women’s competition.

Where does it end? How much bad blood is good? Denis Walsh looks at the rising levels of animosity in golf and if it is good for the sport. Patrick Reed’s spat with Rory McIlroy is a far cry from Steve Scott’s display of sportsmanship to Tiger Woods in the 1996 US Amateur. Scott prevented Woods from putting off the wrong marker, something which would have led to a loss of hole and Woods losing the match on the spot. Walsh goes on to use the examples of silence when the kicker is lining up a shot at goal in rugby to say that other sports have managed to preserve elements of sportmanlike tradition - why not golf?