D’Arcy on Ireland’s confidence crisis, Rodgers watches Leicester win

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

Shane Duffy can’t stop Jamie Vardy scoring during Leicester’s win over Brighton. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

Shane Duffy can’t stop Jamie Vardy scoring during Leicester’s win over Brighton. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has suggested Ireland need to “come up for air,” after what has been a largely suffocating first three rounds of the 2019 Six Nations. Joe Schmidt’s side have battled their way past Scotland and Italy following an opening weekend defeat to England, and D’Arcy puts this down to dwindling confidence among an injury-depleted squad. He writes: “Losing to England this month, in the manner it happened at the Aviva stadium, sucked the confidence out of Ireland. They have yet to recover. Remember these guys live from contract to contract. Some of them are playing for their very careers. When the collective stumbles it means several individuals are struggling, badly.” Ireland have two difficult fixtures remaining in the tournament - France at home followed by Wales away - and D’Arcy believes while the prospect of the defending champions now losing three matches is realistic, there is still a chance to steady the ship. He writes: “It’s very hard to turn it around inside the tournament. Maybe Ireland needed this to happen now. We hope so. Maybe they need to bin the 2019 Six Nations. Ideally not. Ideally, the French will bring out a resilience we know they possess.”

There were four Premier League fixtures last night, and new Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers looked on from the stands as his side beat Brighton 2-1 at the King Power Stadium, following his appointment earlier in the evening. Rodgers has been replaced at Celtic by Neil Lennon, who will take charge for tonight’s Scottish Premiership trip to play Hearts in Edinburgh. Elsewhere Everton picked up a much-needed 3-0 win away to Cardiff City, while Newcastle United boosted their survival hopes with another victory, at home to Burnley. There was also a rare win for Huddersfield Town, who beat Wolves 1-0 at home. Tonight an injury-hit Manchester United face a tricky trip to Crystal Palace, while Manchester City welcome West Ham to the Etihad. Chelsea face Spurs at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool play Watford at Anfield, Bournemouth travel to Arsenal and Southampton face Fulham at St Mary’s.

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