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England have comfortable Dublin visit after Ireland battled themselves to exhaustion

Gerry Thornley looks at the Leinster v La Rochelle saga while Darragh Ó Sé is far from convinced about goalies being key in attack

It proved to be a comfortable enough visit to Dublin for the reigning European champions, England leaving the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening with three points in their pockets after their 2-0 win over Ireland. “The Irish battled themselves to exhaustion. The English strolled about, never leaving third gear. And still, they owned the night,” writes Gavin Cummiskey. Ken Early analyses the game, which was played in front of a crowd of 32,742, the first 60 minutes a “depressing display of English superiority”, before Ireland made a contest of it in the last half hour.

When Damien Duff held court on Tuesday, he was keener to talk about the women’s match than the hunt for a permanent replacement for Stephen Kenny, the Shelbourne manager having long since tired of the saga which is now 140 days old. “It’s had enough air time for me,” he said.

Leinster v La Rochelle has turned into a bit of a saga too, the French side, writes Gerry Thornley, “inflicting more than a fair share of grief on Leinster in the last three seasons”. Josh Van der Flier was on duty for all three defeats by Ronan O’Gara’s crew in that spell and would quite like to be on the winning side when the teams meet again in Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final. Gordon D’Arcy is wondering if the presence on the Leinster coaching team of Jacques Nienaber this season can help “get them over the line against a team that has proved to be their knock-out nemesis”.

And the Irish women’s team will hope that the return to the fold of Cliodhna Moloney will help them get off the mark in the Six Nations against Wales on Saturday, Johnny Watterson talking to coach Scott Bemand about his decision to recall the Exeter Chiefs player.


In Gaelic games, Darragh Ó Sé is far from convinced about “this new world where goalies are the key men in attack”. For years, they were “stuck to their line and told not to go anywhere. Now they’re free at last and they’re loving life”. Seán Moran, meanwhile, takes a look at the challenges facing Jim Gavin’s Football Review Committee as it addresses “age-old concerns” about the game.

Over in Augusta, Philip Reid heard from Rory McIlroy ahead of his 16th attempt to win the Masters, and he also paid a visit to the merchandise shop, somehow resisting the temptation to buy an official Masters garden gnome.

TV Watch: As part of the build-up to the Masters, Sky Sports Golf has coverage of today’s Par 3 Contest (7.0pm). Later, there are the last two Champions League quarter-finals, Paris Saint-Germain at home to Barcelona in the first leg of their tie (Virgin Media Two and TNT Sports 1, 8.0), while Atlético Madrid host Borussia Dortmund in theirs (TNT Sports 2, 8.0).