Munster drawn in group of death, could Meath’s direct style trouble the Dubs?

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

Frankie Detorri and Crystal Ocean were victorious at Royal Ascot on Wednesday. Photograph: lan Crowhurst/Getty

Frankie Detorri and Crystal Ocean were victorious at Royal Ascot on Wednesday. Photograph: lan Crowhurst/Getty

Yesterday saw the draw for the pool stages of the 2019-20 Heineken Champions Cup take place, with the four provinces learning their fate ahead of next season’s competition. And it was Johann van Graan’s Munster - semi-finalists last term - who look to have been handed the shortest straw, as they were landed in Pool Four alongside defending champions Saracens, Top14 side Racing 92 and the competition’s solitary Welsh representative, the Ospreys. On paper last year’s beaten finalists Leinster have a much easier assignment in Pool One where they will meet Lyon, Northampton Saints and Italian side Benetton; while Ulster will face the mighty Clermont Auvergne along with English duo Harlequins and Bath. Last but not least, Connacht will play familiar foes Gloucester, Montpellier and Toulouse - a clash which will bring back romantic memories of their famous 16-14 victory at the Stade Ernest Wallon in December 2013. The first round of Champions Cup fixtures are scheduled for the weekend of November 15th - a quick turnaround from the Rugby World Cup final on November 2nd.

In this week’s GAA Statistics column Eamon Donoghue has looked ahead to his weekend’s Leinster SFC final between Dublin and a Meath side who will need to deliver the performance of a lifetime in order to upset the defending All-Ireland champions. And he has analysed the pacy, direct running style of the Royal County - which is a world away from some of their former sides: “Unlike the Meath teams of old, Andy McEntee’s outfit are more likely to run a team into the ground than actually knock anybody into it.” A number of players will be key to Meath’s chances of toppling the Dubs, and none more so than their skipper Donal Keogan, who has made just one kick pass from play in his side’s three Championship fixtures so far this summer. However, this doesn’t suggest he has had a limited influence: “Against Offaly, Keogan played in the six position he’s lined out in. He had 25 possessions which included being fouled for a converted free, he made five interceptions or turnovers, and on four occasions went by his man.”

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