Subscriber OnlySports Briefing

Hugo Keenan looking to go where no Irish player has before

Tricky selection decisions for Cullen; busy weekend of hurling; sold-out clash in League of Ireland

Hugo Keenan’s sole focus this week, you can be sure, has been on a certain encounter in London on Saturday afternoon, but soon after it will shift to another sizeable sporting event, namely the Olympic Games. The fullback is due to link up with the Irish Sevens squad after the Champions Cup final, Johnny Watterson looking at his decision to skip Ireland’s upcoming tour of South Africa to attempt to achieve something no Irish player ever has – “a Grand Slam, Six Nations Championship and an Olympic medal”.

But first, Toulouse on Saturday, Gerry Thornley taking us through the tricky selection decisions facing Leo Cullen, although “it seems virtually certain that Keenan will be restored at fullback” after his recovery from injury, while Joe McCarthy’s form this season will make him one of the first names on that team-sheet. Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola has his own selection headaches, John O’Sullivan having a browse through his options, among his dilemmas whether to go with Scottish international Blair Kinghorn at fullback or “the lavishly gifted” Thomas Ramos.

In Gaelic games, Joe Canning looks ahead to the weekend’s Munster and Leinster hurling fixtures, including Tipperary’s meeting with Clare. “Tipp have already had two hidings this summer; the consequences of another one don’t bear thinking about,” he writes. The Louth footballers, meanwhile, are aiming for their first championship win over Meath in almost 50 years, Paul Keane examining their chances, and Paul also reports on happy times in Offaly hurling after their triumph in the Leinster Under-20 final.

Shelbourne are having a happy time of it this season too, the league leaders heading for Tallaght stadium this evening for their sold-out meeting with the five-in-a-row chasing Shamrock Rovers. Gavin Cummiskey previews the game and the rest of the night’s fixtures, and we also look at a momentous weekend in the life of Cork City old-boy Jake O’Brien who will line out for Lyon against PSG in Saturday’s Coupe de France final.


In athletics, Sonia O’Sullivan writes about the longest-standing outdoor record in the books, the 800m mark set by Jarmila Kratochvílová in 1983, while Ian O’Riordan brings news of swimmer Tom Fannon sealing Olympic qualification on Thursday. Shane Stokes has the latest from the Rás Tailteann, Ireland’s Conn McDunphy winning stage two, and Cliona Foley reports on the thriving world of Masters Hockey. “It’s not occupational therapy for old ladies. It is incredibly competitive,” says Joanne O’Grady who captained the Irish 55s to bronze at last year’s World Cup.

And in racing, Brian O’Connor writes about the decision of Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell to retire 2023 Grand National winner Corach Rambler, despite him being just 10 and “hardly a spent force”. Russell did so for his own wellbeing, but Brian reckons that decision was “overly cautious”.

TV Watch: It’s day two at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, Scottie Scheffler trailing leader Charley Hoffman by seven shots after an unusually off-colour opening round (Sky Sports Golf, 5pm-midnight). Later, Cork meet Tipperary in the Munster under-20 hurling final (TG4, 7.30), and that’s followed by deferred coverage of the Connacht minor football final between Mayo and Roscommon.