Gordon D’Arcy on Ireland RWC squad, Darragh Ó Sé on All-Ireland scheduling

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

Steve Smith returns for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty

Steve Smith returns for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty

In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has reflected on Joe Schmidt’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, and the brutal calls made by the Kiwi as he trimmed down his touring party for Japan. And D’Arcy, who missed out on selection for the 2003 and 2015 tournaments, has particular sympathy for Devin Toner - but can see Schmidt’s thinking behind his omission: “Why would Joe Schmidt turn away from guaranteed lineout possession so close to the World Cup? Why is he placing so much faith in Iain Henderson or James Ryan to nail the calls? It’s a calculated risk, but I understand it. Schmidt has picked a squad with individuals who will be assigned specific tasks from game to game, week to week.” One of those tasks will be trying to deal with and respond to the physicality on show in Japan, something Ireland have been unable to do twice against England this year. “Schmidt has tailored his squad to combat the power game that will dominate at this tournament. That’s why Kleyn and Rhys Ruddock got the call over Toner and Murphy. They are stronger men and size looks like it will trump guile.” And this is something Schmidt himself alluded to yesterday while explaining his squad selection at Carton House, he said: “We are used to coping against teams that are physically bigger than we are, but it can be attritional and it can be physically sapping for players. So we want to make sure we can physically compete, no matter what way our opponents play, and at the same time, we can impose a little bit of pressure on them by being able to mix up the way we play.”

Meanwhile in his column today Darragh Ó Sé has looked back at last Sunday’s drawn All-Ireland final between Dublin and Kerry, and suggested the Kingdom have plenty more to give in the replay: “David Clifford’s shooting was shocking. David Moran and Paul Murphy pulled a couple wide. Paul Geaney could have had two goals - although the one James McCarthy cleared off the line was just good defending with a lot of Dublin bodies back on the line. They went in at half-time with eight points when it could have been closer to 1-11 or 1-12. Bad shooting let Kerry down. That tells me, above all else, that Kerry have major room for improvement. The idea that Kerry’s chance is gone doesn’t make sense.” And he has also been critical of the scheduling of the replay, which throws in at 6pm on Saturday September 14th: “For a start, it will totally overwhelm the women’s final the following day. The Dubs are in both finals so not only will supporters stay away the second day but the whole build-up will be overshadowed. . . Everyone who ever kicked a ball dreamed of playing in an All-Ireland final and when they did, the floodlights weren’t on. Floodlights are for winter football.”

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