Leinster’s continued strength enough to give rivals a severe case of the blues

Dublin tipped to win All-Ireland; Limerick begin hurling championship as odd-on favourites

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber in the game against England. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

If the Leinster rugby team is the sporting love of your life, then we have some happy reading for you today: Gordon D’Arcy reckons that the adding of Jacques Nienaber to their coaching set-up could make them an even more formidable outfit next season. That’s enough to give their rivals a severe case of the Blues.

Nienaber’s signature is, writes Gordon, a significant coup for the province, one that will help ward off any complacency that might set in after such a (so far) successful season.

Munster, meanwhile, are on their former employee’s home patch again on Saturday when they play the Sharks in Durban, their aim to secure a place in next season’s Champions Cup. Whether or not Joey Carbery plays any role in that mission, writes Johnny Watterson, remains to be seen.

The Irish women’s team know all about difficult spells, finding themselves in possibly their toughest one yet this season. Assistant coach Niamh Briggs, Daire Walsh reports, admits to have been left drained by all the external noise surrounding the camp, but its noise that could well louden after they play England in the Six Nations on Saturday.


By their own lofty standards, Dublin have been going through a rough patch themselves the last couple of years, but Darragh Ó Sé – risking being exiled from the Kingdom – is tipping them to return to All-Ireland winning ways come the end of July.

While the football championship is regarded as being one of the most open in years, hurling, writes Seán Moran, “has failed to generate any speculation beyond Limerick as winners”. Before a ball is pucked in, he says, they are odds-on to become the latest four-in-a-row county.

Gordon Manning, meanwhile, was at the Gaelic Players Association’s launch of their ‘State of Play’ equality report which outlined the vast differences in the levels of support received by female intercounty players and their male counterparts.

In athletics, Ian O’Riordan tells us about the latest list of competitors who will be receiving financial support this year through the Jerry Kiernan Foundation, the non-profit organisation set up after the great man’s death in 2021.

Finally, spare a thought for Joasia Zakrzewski. The Scottish ultra-marathon runner finished third in the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race earlier this month, but when officials checked her mapping data they spotted that she had covered a mile in 100 seconds. Speedy. Alas, she had covered it by ... car.

Telly watch: After his brilliant second place finish at last weekend’s Amstel Gold Race, Irish cyclist Ben Healy is back in action today at the Flèche Wallonne in Belgium (Eurosport 2, 1.30-4.0).

And in football, we have the last of the Champions League quarter-finals, Bayern Munich trying to come back from that 3-0 first leg defeat by Manchester City (Virgin Media Two & BT Sport 1, kick-off 8.0) and Inter Milan defending a 2-0 first leg lead at home to Benfica (BT Sport 2, kick-off).

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