Gordon D’Arcy brings hope to us all; Josh Cullen doesn’t want a Declan Rice saga

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

Last year’s Grand National winner Tiger Roll getting washed after morning work at Gordon Elliott’s yard. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Last year’s Grand National winner Tiger Roll getting washed after morning work at Gordon Elliott’s yard. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The fallout from Ireland’s loss to Wales and overall disappointing Six Nations campaign shows no signs of stopping and is likely to continue for quite some time. However, this morning Gordon D’Arcy sends a green light of hope out into the ever-darkening gloom, writing in his column that there is plenty of time for Ireland to recover their confidence but it does mark the toughest spell of Joe Schmidt’s managerial tenure. “You don’t lose confidence from one bad game. You can recover within a few days as training gets you motoring again. But, say, I miss a few tackles on back-to-back weekends or crash into brick walls (that refuse to crumble), the gardener in your head starts planting the seeds of doubt,” he writes. In other Six Nations news, the unions are in danger of falling out over plans to aggregate their television and commercial rights, with England and France demanding an unequal share of the proceeds to pay off their clubs. The news comes after four investment companies were interviewed with a view to coming on board to take over the commercial arm, as well as TV rights. Ireland are among the unions to question the value of it as England and France demand an unequal share. This week the focus returns to the provinces and the Pro14. Leinster’s Fergus McFadden is one of those players who knows that good domestic form could well secure him a spot in the World Cup squad and that is what he is aiming to do.

On to soccer and Mick McCarthy can this weekend ensure the international allegiances of midfielder Josh Cullen who is English-born but, like a certain other West Ham player, has pledged his allegiance to Ireland. However, pledging allegiance doesn’t always mean that you won’t switch over (see pictures of England training yesterday) but Cullen wants to get it settled as soon as possible, ideally with a cap on Saturday against Gibraltar. Meanwhile, Richard Keogh has shown how committed he is to the cause by turning down surgery on a broken hand in order to be available for the opening two Euro 2020 qualifiers. Keogh injured the hand playing for Derby against Stoke last week but, with it bandaged and in a splint, he doesn’t seem to worried about it. “I thought I’d dislocated it. I was just kind of pushing it around, probably a bit of stupidity and adrenaline. I carried on and then after the game it was a bit sore,” he said yesterday. Meanwhile, the story of why John Delaney loaned €100,000 to the FAI doesn’t look like going away any time soon with Sport Ireland getting involved last night. The organisation, which distributes the grants on which the FAI are quite reliant, said last night that any such loan should have been declared to them first.

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