Let’s park the World Cup for one week; O’Neill impressed by Obafemi

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

Gerry Thornley is telling us to enjoy this weekend’s match against the All Blacks for what it is. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Gerry Thornley is telling us to enjoy this weekend’s match against the All Blacks for what it is. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ahead of Saturday’s match between Ireland and the All Blacks at the Aviva, Gerry Thornley tells us - for one week only let’s park the World Cup. “For the first time ever, Ireland host New Zealand as the second best side in the world,” he writes in his column. “This is the Grand Slam champions of the north against the champions of the south. This billing has never happened before, and might never happen again.” The IRFU confirmed on Monday that Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw will not play any part in the rest of Ireland’s November internationals. Meanwhile, Johnny Sexton knows beating the best could crown him The World Player of the Year when the trophy is handed out on November 25th.

Martin O’Neill hasn’t rule out capping Dublin-born Southampton striker Michael Obafemi, who is eligible to declare for Ireland, England or Nigeria. The 18 year-old might well get a run out against Northern Ireland, and O’Neill would not rule out the prospect of an appearance in Denmark, something that rules out a future change of international allegiance. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been charged with misconduct in relation to alleged breaches of the Football Association betting rules in January. Sturridge insists that he has “never gambled on football”, although it’s been reported that the charge is in relation to providing information for a bet rather than making one himself.

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