In-form Ciarán Kilkenny a new threat to Mayo; tension between Munster and Harlequins

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

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hugs Roberto Firmino after their win over Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Jon Super/EPA

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hugs Roberto Firmino after their win over Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Jon Super/EPA

Just two days to go now until Dublin line out against Mayo for this year’s Christmas All-Ireland final and this morning Eamon Donoghue writes that a redeployed Ciarán Kilkenny looks set to be a new problem for Mayo. The western county have got well used to facing Dublin in big matches over the last few years but now they face a three-time All Star in a more advanced role and in the form of his life. Another man Mayo won’t know too much about is Robbie McDaid who is arguably Dublin’s best find of 2021 and who has finally got his chance afetr biding his time, writes Ian O’Riordan. However, one man well-versed in the big games and looking to add to an individual championship scoring record of 4-9 in the semi-finals against Tipperary is Cillian O’Connor. The Ballintubber forward knows all about losing on the biggest stage and this year he’s determined to put that right. On Sunday the Dublin women will look to make it a four-in-a-row of their own when they face Cork in the All-Ireland final and Noelle Healy tells Mary Hannigan how grateful she is for this year’s championship which has been a huge distraction from the realities of Covid-19.

Moving on to rugby and the rematch between Harlequins and Munster in January is set to have quite a bit of spice after Danny Care stirred the pot yesterday by accusing Munster players of diving in the Irish side’s 21-7 win at Thomond Park on Sunday. As it is Ben Healy will be out for a few weeks as a result of sustained late hits and Conor Murray yesterday said he felt the late hits were reckless. “The hit on Ben was just late and reckless. That’s not going after someone, that’s just going against the laws of the game and no one likes to see that,” he said.

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