Ken Early on encouraging Ireland signs; RTÉ likely to take Pro14 rights

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

Ireland’s Alan Browne celebrates scoring the opener in their World Cup qualifier against Serbia. Photo: Andrej Cukic/Inpho

Ireland’s Alan Browne celebrates scoring the opener in their World Cup qualifier against Serbia. Photo: Andrej Cukic/Inpho

Ultimately Ireland came away from Belgrade with nothing after a 3-2 loss to Serbia last night but, with the bar set so low over the last few years, there were plenty of positives to take from Stephen Kenny’s first World Cup qualifier in charge. Some excellent attacking moves were a welcome change from previous regimes and it was one such attack which led to Alan Browne heading home for the opener. However, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s class ultimately shone through as he netted twice in the second half to take the points for Serbia. Afterwards, Browne took little solace from his goal but said there are bright spots to be taken from the performance. With Luxembourg to come at home on Saturday, and hopefully Kenny’s first win as manager, this could prove to be something of a turning point as Ireland finally looked to pose a goal threat, writes Keith Duggan. Meanwhile, in his column, Ken Early writes that Kenny’s 3-5-2 system already looks to have more promise than what we’ve seen in the past but Ireland now just need to learn how to maintain this level of effort for 90 minutes. Elsewhere, Mary Hannigan writes that Browne gave Ireland fans their “we were there (on the couch)” moment while Patrick Madden hands out the player ratings.

Moving on to rugby and John O’Sullivan reports this morning that RTÉ are the strong contenders to take over Pro14 rights from Eir Sport after they decided not to renew their contract for the league competition. “It is seven years since RTÉ (2014) was last involved with the Pro 14 but there would be an appetite among the general public, certainly from a financial standpoint, to have the tournament back on terrestrial television,” he writes. Meanwhile, with the Pro14 final coming up this Saturday between Munster and Leinster, Gavin Coombes and Scott Penny are two of the younger players who will be looking to take advantage of game time in such a big match.

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