Attention turns to making amends in Cardiff; O’Callaghan and Clifford could decide final

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Irish goalkeeper Mark Travers saves a penalty from Joseph Mills of Forest Green Rovers during the penalty shoot-out in the Carabao Cup Second Round. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Irish goalkeeper Mark Travers saves a penalty from Joseph Mills of Forest Green Rovers during the penalty shoot-out in the Carabao Cup Second Round. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Thursday dawns and the post-mortems from Saturday’s record defeat to England at Twickenham are finally starting to give way to talk of Ireland’s next brusing World Cup ‘warm-up’ match – that being against Wales in Cardiff this Saturday. However, all of the build up is, of course, in the context of whether Ireland can respond to last week’s result. Peter O’Mahony believes they can but he knows it will be tough. “Whoever gets selected this weekend has a huge, huge responsibility to put the green jersey back in a good place,” he said yesterday. Those 15 players selected to start in Cardiff will have a huge chance to lay down claims for a starting berth in Japan and, with the lineup set to be announced later today, Gerry Thornley has set out the team he believes Joe Schmidt will pick. Since last weekend’s defeat in London there has been a lot of talk about Rory Best and whether he is still the right man for the job of captain. Schmidt made it clear on Tuesday that he believes he is and yesterday Conor Murray backed his teammate as the man to lead Ireland. “Rory is a guy who is an incredibly strong character. He’s leading this week incredibly strongly, he’s obviously at the forefront of this as our captain and wants to put it right, he’s leading us into this game,” he said. Don’t forget you can follow all of the build-up to Japan with columns, analysis, news, interviews, stats, fixtures and much more on our dedicated 2019 Rugby World Cup site.

Moving on to the main sporting event of the weekend and Eamon Donoghue writes in his statistics column this week that the All-Ireland final could well be decided by the Dublin and Kerry sharpshooters of Con O’Callaghan and David Clifford. Both have been prolific all year and, as outlined in the article, share a lot of similarities. The demand for tickets is something that always proves a story in the build-up to the All-Ireland final and, while this year’s increase to €90 has not lessened demand, Seán Moran has taken a look at just how those tickets are distributed, how many clubs get and why they’re divided up in the way they are. Four Dublin players in contention to feature on Sunday have already surpassed their previous generation and by some distance when it comes to medals, writes Ian O’Riordan. While some Kerry players may have felt in 2015 that they might do the same, the dominance of Dublin has left the likes of David Moran on two while Bernard Brogan could collect his seventh medal on Sunday.

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