D’Arcy on Leinster’s and Munster; McIlroy sticks with Ireland as he eyes Olympics

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Rory McIlroy plays a tee shot during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Bethpage, New York. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays a tee shot during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Bethpage, New York. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

With Champions Cup final defeat now behind them, Leinster have a familiar foe to focus on in Munster. The two sides meet this Saturday in the Pro14 semi-finals and Gordon D’Arcy says that Leinster’s southern rivals present the perfect opposition after the disappointment of Saracens. “The RDS on Saturday will create the perfect rugby ecosystem. For 80 minutes the Leinster and Munster teams will make us forget the pain caused by defeat to Saracens and the imminent departure of Fla’ and Felix,” he writes. Those departures of Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones are set to weigh heavily on Munster next season and last night Ronan O’Gara ruled himself out of taking one of the positions. The former Munster kicker is heavily tipped to become La Rochelle head coach from next season, writes Gavin Cummiskey. As always, Peter O’Mahony will play a key part in proceedings this Saturday afternoon and yesterday he spoke of how Munster are capable of getting over their semi-final duck and securing some silverware for the season. “To be involved in semi-finals and finals rugby is what you want to be doing at this time of the year. Plenty of teams don’t have any rugby at this stage. It is great to be back in for what is the biggest week of the year,” he said. Also speaking yesterday was Leinster coach John Fogarty who says that the province’s youngsters – who play such a key part in all of the team’s success – have not been dwelling on the defeat to Saracens as they are fully in the knowledge that Munster smell blood.

In golf the second Major of the year gets underway tomorrow when the world’s finest will tee it up at the fearsome Bethpage Black in New York for the US PGA Championship. This tournament was the last Major title won by Rory McIlroy all the way back in 2014 and, while the four-time Major winner comes in with plenty of good form under his belt, the talk yesterday was more about matters to come next year. That’s because McIlroy confirmed that he wants to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and, as he has always said he would, don the green polo shirt of Ireland. It’s a change of heart from McIlroy on the opportunity to win a gold medal after he skipped the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro but, as Philip Reid writes from Bethpage, the 30-year-old has always been proud to represent Ireland, as he spoke about yesterday. “I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland. I wanted to play for Ireland. I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer,” McIlroy said. The man from Holywood will be looking to claim his fifth Major title this week while Tiger Woods – who has not played since winning the Masters in April – is trying to secure number 16. “It’s great to be part of the narrative. My narrative spans 20 years now, just over 20 years. If you look at most of the players or the players that have had the most success on tour, you’re not measured by like an NFL football player when you get in the Hall of Fame after nine years,” Woods said yesterday.

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