Gerry Thornley on Ireland’s wake up call; all-island league becoming more of a reality

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

Serena Williams serves to Maria Sharapova during their first round clash at the 2019 US Open. Photo: Justin Lane/EPA

Serena Williams serves to Maria Sharapova during their first round clash at the 2019 US Open. Photo: Justin Lane/EPA

For those of you out there who have watched the recent Sky Atlantic/HBO series Chernobyl you will understand the following reference. For those who haven’t watched, it’s highly recommended that you do. Anyway, the part where professor Valery Legasov is explaining to the Kremlin that the reactor has reached the meltdown stage and could soon contaminate the drinking water supply for millions of people in Ukraine and Belarus seems somewhat similar to the meltdown that has befallen Ireland’s Rugby World Cup plans since the record defeat to England on Saturday. Comparisons are in jest, of course, but the fallout from that meeting at Twickenham shows no signs of letting up with Wales looming in Cardiff this Saturday. However, this morning Gerry Thornley writes that the 57-15 loss to Eddie Jones’ men can act as a wake-up call for Ireland. “Ireland looked like a team that needed to loosen up and take a few more risks in attack, while tightening up in defence. It also seemed as if the pre-season training and especially the warm weather camp in Portugal had taken the legs out of them,” he writes. A boost for Ireland would be the return of Joey Carbery but that may still be touch-and-go as Munster head coach Johann van Graan said yesterday. Sticking with rugby, John O’Sullivan writes in our consumer pages this morning that Ireland jersey sales are set to spike during the World Cup with the (rather expensive) kits expected to sell more this year than any other jersey across any sport. On the provincial side, new Munster coach Stephen Larkham was speaking for the first time yesterday since his arrival from Australia and the former World Cup-winning outhalf says he is hoping to make a change at the province after identifying some areas that he feels can be improved.

On to GAA and the build-up is continuing towards this Sunday’s All-Ireland final with Kevin McStay writing in his column this morning that David Moran holds the keys for the Kingdom and curbing his talent will be a key factor in Dublin’s game plan. “I can say without equivocation that if Kerry aren’t winning midfield, then they aren’t winning the All-Ireland. How do they break even in this sector?” he writes. If Dublin’s football is perhaps some of the best to watch in the history of the sport there is no doubt that their pre-All-Ireland final press nights are becoming some of the most uneventful ever. Michael Darragh Macauley was the man in the spotlight this time around and, as Malachy Clerkin writes, there wasn’t exactly a lot going on. “Macauley was in good humour all through it, even shouting up to the Dublin media manager at one stage: ‘This is the worst interview I’ve ever done – you’ll be delighted with it.’ Job done, so,” he writes. In other news, Andy Moran yesterday announced his retirement from inter-county football after a lengthy career with Mayo. The 2017 Footballer of the Year announced his decision on the Second Captains podcast in an interview with Richie Sadlier. Moran, who is 35, leaves after a distinguished career that also earned him two All Stars.

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