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Mary Hannigan: Ireland exuding ‘Zen-like calm’ ahead of South Africa clash

Nice wants to forget its past; Karen Duggan on turmoil for women’s team; Leona Maguire in action

Good morning,

The positive news from Paris is that “Andy Farrell, Johnny Sexton et al” are exuding “an almost Zen-like calm”. Less encouragingly, the South Africans are exuding much the same. So, it’s all square ahead of tomorrow’s meeting at the Stade de France.

“It’s not a must-win,” said Farrell. “It’s not a do-or-die type of game, but it’s pretty important to both teams, let’s put it that way.”

There were, writes Gerry Thornley, no surprises in the coach’s starting XV, Ireland now “having a side even more settled than the Springboks”. Garry Ringrose is, of course, a starter, Johnny Watterson suspecting he’s among the first names Farrell scribbles on his team-sheet.


Before Johnny left Nice for Paris, he reflected on the city’s darkest day, when, seven years ago, 86 people were murdered by a man who drove a truck into a crowd of Bastille Day revellers. There is little reminder of the horror, though, the city seemingly wanting to forget rather than commemorate.

In soccer, Gavin Cummiskey reports on a dispute between league officials in Dublin that is severely impacting the girls’ game there, while Karen Duggan gives her thoughts on all the recent turmoil surrounding the women’s national team, while hoping the focus can be on football from here on in.

Philip Reid, meanwhile, is over in Spain where the Solheim Cup got under way this morning, Leona Maguire – described by her team-mate Emily Kristine Pedersen as “kind of like a silent assassin” – paired with veteran Anna Nordqvist for the opening foursomes.

In Gaelic games, Gordon Manning talks to Dublin hurler Eoghan O’Donnell about the county’s failure to thus far achieve their lofty All-Ireland-winning ambitions, Dublin still “mired in hurling’s chasing pack”.

And in horse racing, Brian O’Connor takes a look at the Luke Comer case, the trainer who was handed a three year ban after 12 of his horses tested positive for anabolic steroids. While it casts a shadow over racing, says Brian, “one upside is that the mechanics of racing’s anti-doping systems measured up to what it says on the tin”.

TV watch: It’s day one of the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Spain where Europe, featuring Leona Maguire, will bid for a record third win in a row over the United States (Sky Sports Golf, 6.30am-7pm). And later in the afternoon Argentina and Samoa square up at the Rugby World Cup (RTÉ 2 and UTV, 4.45).