Aaron Connolly ruled out for Ireland; Healing process can begin in Champions Cup
The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Aaron Connolly in action against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photograph: EPA
Brighton striker Aaron Connolly is out of Ireland’s two international games over the coming week due to a groin strain picked up against Manchester United on Sunday. Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, who already has 27 players in for the two games against New Zealand and Denmark, said he will not call in any replacement. The Republic of Ireland women’s team need to avoid any blemishes against Greece tonight to remain on track for an automatic route to the 2021 European Championship finals. That match is live on RTÉ2 at 1pm Irish time. Last night Dundalk hit Linfield for six goals to add late silverware to an already stellar season by claiming the Unite the Union Champions Cup with a 7-1 aggregate triumph.
In his column this morning, Gerry Thornley explains how the Champions Cup can begin Irish rugby’s healing process: “plenty of those on the Japanese expedition as well as those overlooked will feel they have something to prove and should be in the condition to do so.” Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster has shed light on the province’s system of ‘unstructured chaos’ while insisting there is no one system that is right and one that is wrong. He says: “what we are trying to achieve is a balance between the real importance of starter plays and execution at set-pieces and everything else – to be very good at that but also be very good when the game becomes into phases three to 10, let’s call it.” With Robbie Henshaw’s return to training this week, Leinster will have the luxury of picking from almost all of their World Cup players for the first round of the Champions Cup this Saturday against Benetton.