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Mary Hannigan: Eileen Gleeson hell-bent on finishing campaign with flawless record

Omnishambles for young boxers; Scott Penny ready for weekend; Irish presence in AFLW final

It’s been plain sailing for the Republic of Ireland through their Nations League campaign, four wins out of four already guaranteeing them promotion to the top tier of European football. Tonight’s game against Hungary in Tallaght, and their final fixture in Belfast on Tuesday are, then, effectively dead rubbers, but Eileen Gleeson is hell-bent on finishing the campaign with a flawless record.

Gavin Cummiskey heard the interim manager insist yet again that she’s not in the running to be Vera Pauw’s permanent successor, the FAI hoping to fill that role before Christmas. Karen Duggan, though, wonders why the new manager wasn’t appointed ahead of these last two group games, to give them time to bed in before Ireland face far superior opposition next year.

In boxing, Johnny Watterson writes about the “omnishambles” that has been the IABA’s enforcement of an instruction that they understood to have been handed down from on high – that our young fighters had to withdraw from last month’s European Under-22 championships and this week’s Junior World Championships if they were drawn against Russians or Belarusians.

Johnny has also been keeping an eye on the case being taken by 300 players, five of them Irish, against World Rugby, the RFU and WRU arising from brain injuries they claim they sustained while playing the game.


Back on the field, John O’Sullivan talks to Leinster’s Scott Penny and Nathan Johns to Connacht’s Paul Boyle ahead of their provinces’ URC meeting at the Sportsground on Saturday, John also previewing Munster’s game this evening against Glasgow Warriors at Musgrave Park.

Sonia O’Sullivan, meanwhile, is hoping for an Irish medal or two (or more) at Sunday week’s European Cross Country in Brussels, while swimmer Róisín Ní Riain is also aiming for a place on the podium at the Paralympics next year, the 18-year-old from Limerick talking to Ian O’Riordan about her gruelling schedule as she works towards Paris.

Ireland is guaranteed two medals from Sunday’s AFLW Grand Final with Orla O’Dwyer and Jennifer Dunne lining out for Brisbane, while North Melbourne will have among their ranks Erika O’Shea and Niamh Martin. Patrick Horan previews the final and looks back on what has been a successful year for the league’s 33 Irish competitors.

In Gaelic games, Seán Moran brings news that the GAA are confident that next Monday’s launch of the 2024 GAAGO coverage can go ahead, despite concerns that the service may have been in breach of competition law. Seán also talks to O’Loughlin Gaels captain Mark Bergin as the Kilkenny champions prepare to take on Na Fianna in Saturday’s Leinster club final.

In cricket, Nathan Johns hears from a frustrated Irish head coach Heinrich Malan who, after two summers in the job, is “well acquainted with the trials of leading a minority sport which is severely underfunded”. And in horse racing, Brian O’Connor is somewhat sceptical about the theory that “Cheltenham Gold Cup glory can seriously damage a horse’s subsequent career”. Einstein’s betting habits also get a mention.

TV Watch: The Republic of Ireland will look to make it five wins out of five in their Nations League campaign when they take on Hungary in Tallaght this evening (RTÉ 2, kick-off 7.30). In rugby, Munster host Glasgow in the URC (TG4 and Premier Sports 1, 7.35), and Sky Sports Golf brings the second round of the Hero World Challenge where a “sore” Tiger Woods is back in action (from 6.30).