Ireland have workable plan for Wales; Leinster running straight and apart

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

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill watches the team train on Monday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill watches the team train on Monday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland welcome Wales to the Aviva tonight, with the hosts still in pursuit of their first Nations League win at the third time of asking. The visitors are without Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, but Ireland manager Martin O’Neill wasn’t getting anyone’s hopes up in his pre-match press conference. His team, he says, may be “technically short”, but goes out equipped with a workable plan. Last night England shocked Spain with a 3-2 win, their first in Spain since 1987. Raheem Sterling bagged two along with a Marcus Rashford goal, and while Spain’s comeback fell short they were denied what looked a certain penalty. Edin Dzeko, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, condemned Northern Ireland to a third straight Nations League defeat in a match that saw them hit the post three times.

In his column this morning Gerry Thornley explains what’s setting Leinster apart from everyone else. Yes, they’ve a squad packed with “young ready-made, highly skilled professional rugby players who bring a ridiculous amount of energy and work to their game”. But they also “seem to be running straighter than anyone else”.

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