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Derry, Cork and Leinster go in search of their mojo

Michael Murphy on how Donegal out-Derryed Derry; Gerry Thornley on Munster’s love of travel; Owen Doyle gives his red card verdict

The sun finally made an appearance at the weekend and the football championship came alive, Donegal having a particularly happy time of it at Celtic Park by “out-Derrying Derry”, as Michael Murphy puts it. He analyses “a brilliant collective performance by Donegal”, one that provided him with yet more evidence that Jim McGuinness “is better than anyone I’ve ever known in the game at articulating a game plan clearly and passionately but also with data-based evidence”. Mind you, in Mickey Harte, Derry have “a manager who has proven experience of relaunching successful All-Ireland challenges in mid-season”, so Michael isn’t writing them off just yet.

But whoever loses between the hurlers of Cork and Clare on Sunday will find their season “hanging by a thread before April is out,” writes Denis Walsh, their defeats, by Waterford and Limerick respectively, in the opening round of the Munster championship putting them under a mountain of pressure.

While Limerick’s “drive for five spluttered and rattled against a swashbuckling Clare side”, they came good in the end. “It was,” says Gordon Manning, “quite the sight to see them race away to a three-point win, having been nine adrift.” Gordon hears from Gearóid Hegarty who played a starring role in that victory.

In rugby, Gerry Thornley looks back at Munster’s URC win over the Bulls in Pretoria, a result, he says, that might just be the pick of the “mightily big away victories” they’ve notched up in the last year or so. Leinster’s 44-12 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg was, though, a huge disappointment for Leo Cullen who refused “to use travel and rejigged team selection as an excuse”.


Owen Doyle, meanwhile, uses his Whistleblower column to look ahead to a critical World Rugby council meeting in a few weeks when “very substantive law issues” will be debated, not least the proposal to give the southern hemisphere’s 20-minute red card replacement a global trial.

In athletics, Ian O’Riordan talks to Israel Olatunde, the 21-year-old Irish 100m record holder who is trying to rediscover his 2022 form when he was “mixing it with the world’s best”. He hasn’t qualified for this summer’s Olympics yet, but he’s “dreaming of being on that start line in Paris”.

Ted Scott is in dream-land too. Scottie Scheffler’s caddy has, Philip Reid tells us, earned more on the PGA Tour so far this year than world number two Rory McIlroy. That “takes bag-carrying for a living up to a completely new level”.

TV Watch: Snooker fans have no need at all to leave their couches today, between them BBC2, BBC Four and Eurosport have close to 12 hours of coverage from the World Championships. Later, Arsenal and Chelsea square up in the Premier League (TNT Sports 1, 8.0), while promotion-chasing Leicester City and Southampton meet in the Championship (Sky Sports Football, 8.0).