Ciarán Kilkenny and the Class of ’93, Ireland leading the way in player management

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

This year’s All-Ireland SFC medal was Ciarán Kilkenny’s fifth. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

This year’s All-Ireland SFC medal was Ciarán Kilkenny’s fifth. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

It is hard to pick out one player from Jim Gavin’s all-conquering Dublin side as having been more vital than the rest in the successful quest for four-in-a-row - but forward Ciarán Kilkenny is odds-on to be named the Footballer of the Year. 25-year-old Kilkenny now has five All-Ireland medals in his locker, and as Seán Moran writes this morning, his statistics from the 2018 Championship point to a player who remains firmly on the rise. “Kilkenny’s scoring total rose from 1-9 to 2-24 as a result of his shooting rate doubling from 19 to 43 and his accuracy improving from 53 per cent to 61. It left him as the top scorer from play in this year’s championship.”

Yesterday World Rugby issued a warning about the future of Test Rugby, with vice chairman Agustin Pichot suggesting urgent action is needed to reduce the workload on players who are being flogged as teams bid to keep their heads above water financially. This morning Johnny Watterson has compared the playing time so far this season of the Ireland and England Test squads who toured Australia and South Africa respectively during the summer, revealing an alarming disparity. He writes: “Every English player but Kyle Sinckler, Nathan Earle, Ellis Genge and Jonny Hill have played for their club in one match, 24 players have taken part in two matches and 11 players, including Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Joe Launchbury, have played for the full 80 minutes in both games. Of the 32 Irish players that toured Australia, 14 have yet to lineout for their province and only two players, Leinster outhalf Ross Byrne and Ulster scrumhalf John Cooney, have played the full 80 minutes in both opening matches.”

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