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Leinster know that it’s all about getting over the line

Jacques Nienaber is focussed on winning; Mathieu Raynal impresses with his cool; while Armagh and Galway catch the eye of Michael Murphy

While the nerves of Leinster supporters might still be jangling a touch after that Northampton comeback at Croke Park on Saturday, Jacques Nienaber is more focussed on the positives, the chief one, of course, being that Leinster are through to another Champions Cup final. “The bottom line is you must get over the line,” Johnny Watterson heard him say, the South African coach not too stressed about how Leinster’s lead shrivelled in those closing stages. But, he admitted, they are far from the finished product, there’s plenty of work to be done. And in his Whistleblower column, Owen Doyle reckons that a similar performance in the final against Toulouse “won’t cut much French mustard”. One display that impressed him, though, was that of referee Mathieu Raynal whose “laidback demeanour” contributed to what was a great occasion.

In Gaelic games, Michael Murphy analyses the form of the chief contenders in the football championship, among them Armagh who, he says, believe “their time has come”. And 10 years into Kieran McGeeney’s management “everything points towards it”. He likes the look of Galway too, as does Seán Moran. “What is next for Galway is a hugely promising championship. They have won a third successive provincial title for the first time in 40 years and their best players are filing back into action….very few will fancy playing them.”

Not too many would fancy running against Rhasidat Adeleke this weather, Ian O’Riordan looking back at her dazzling form in the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas at the weekend where she combined with Cillín Greene, Thomas Barr and Sharlene Mawdsley to win bronze in the 4x400m mixed relay and secure Olympic qualification.

Conor Purcell is in highly useful form too, the 26-year-old Dubliner, writes Philip Reid, “navigating his way through this season’s Challenge Tour, the pathway to a full DP World Tour card, with a sense of purpose”. He’s currently 17th in the order of merit, the top 20 earning a full tour card.


Willie Mullins finished the last jumps campaign on top of racing’s order of merit, Brian O’Connor bringing news that on the eve of the 2024-25 season, Mullins has ruled out “establishing a British satellite operation for his all-conquering team”. That sound you hear is a heavy sigh of relief from rivals “such as Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton”.

TV Watch: PSG will try to overturn their 1-0 first leg loss when they host Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals of the Champions League (RTÉ 2 & TNT Sports 1, 8.0), and Bolton meet Barnsley in the first leg of the League One play-off semi-finals (Sky Sports Football, 8.0).