Gordon D’Arcy on Ireland’s rock bottom; Darragh Ó Sé tries to battle head and heart

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

Michael Obafemi of Southampton celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Carabao Cup second round clash with Fulham. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Michael Obafemi of Southampton celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Carabao Cup second round clash with Fulham. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

While there was some speculation yesterday that Joe Schmidt’s last minute decision to speak to the press (something he usually only does on a Thursday when naming his team) might spell the end of Rory Best’s term as Ireland captain, it turned out to be nothing more than the head coach addressing some issues from the heavy defeat to England on Saturday and outlining how Ireland will move on from here. One of those issues Schmidt addressed was the defence with Ireland racking up 37 missed tackles in the game. Making his return to these pages this morning ahead of next month’s World Cup is columnist Gordon D’Arcy and he believes that the defeat must mark rock bottom for Ireland. “Rock bottom is one step away from the path to redemption. Bear with me. A record defeat is always going to prompt hysterical public reaction but it’s still August. Preseason. The All Blacks were hammered in Perth only to turn it around in Auckland,” he writes. Meanwhile, former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll admitted yesterday that he is “worried” about Ireland’s form but he also belives the problems are fixable. Speaking to Gerry Thornley, O’Driscoll said: “It was just a very un-Joe Schmidt like team performance, lacking accuracy, no detail, not looking after the ball – the sort of stuff would be driving him nuts.” In other news, New Zealand named their squad for next month’s tournament this morning with no place for veteran Owen Franks, meaning only Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Whitelock can lift the Webb Ellis trophy for the third time. Don’t forget you can follow all of the build-up to Japan with columns, analysis, news, interviews, stats, fixtures and much more on our dedicated 2019 Rugby World Cup site.

On to GAA and Darragh Ó Sé seemingly speaks for every Kerry man and woman this morning when he writes that the heart says the Kingdom can beat Dublin in the All-Ireland final on Sunday while the head says cop on to yourself. “There’s no point getting lost in fairytales. Dublin are an awesome football team. If you’re any way realistic about it, it’s very hard to see them being beaten,” he writes. If Dublin are to win on Sunday they would complete an historic five-in-a-row of All-Irelands and much of it would be down to the genius of Jim Gavin. The Dubs boss doesn’t open up much but, as Malachy Clerkin writes, he is still the most interesting man in football despite those best efforts. Kerry themselves are, of course, no strangers to All-Ireland success and indeed no county has ever beaten Kerry in three successive All-Ireland final meetings. However, if the Kingdom were to pull it off this week it round rank as one of their very best even by their standards, writes Seán Moran.

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