Munster stand above all others in quarter-finals; Ireland have the wind at their backs
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
A view of competitors in the Boys 18 & Under 400 LC Meter Freestyle Final during the 2019 Irish Open Long Course Swimming Championships. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
The rugby never stops. Just two weeks after Ireland’s Six Nations humiliation in Cardiff at the hands of Wales, the provinces return to action for the Champions Cup quarter-finals this weekend. For Munster it’s a meeting with Edinburgh on Saturday to determine who will take up a semi-final place. Writing in his stats column this morning, John O’Sullivan says that no team left in this season’s tournament can match Munster’s track record of success at the quarter-final stage in European club rugby’s premier competition, the Irish province having accumulated 13 victories in 17 games. It’s certainly an impressive record but one that the Munster men know will be put to the toughest of tests this weekend by a strong Edinburgh side. For Chris Farrell this is one of the biggest games of his career after a circuitous route to get here. Yesterday he spoke to Gerry Thornley about the task at hand. In Saturday’s evening game it’s the all-Irish clash of Leinster and Ulster which takes centre stage. For a Leinster backrow it’s a constant battle to get the game time you want, something Jack Conan knows all too well, as he told Johnny Watterson yesterday.
On to soccer and Ireland will head into the next round of European qualifiers with a strong wind at their back after taking six points and two clean sheets from their opening games against Gibraltar and Georgia. However, next up is an altogether different task as Mick McCarthy’s side head back to Copenhagen in June to meet the now all-too-familiar foes of Denmark. For the new manager there was no time to adapt before being thrown in at the deep end of competitive matches but there have been plenty of positives with David McGoldrick, Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick standing out so far. Areas of the pitch still up for debate however are the full-back spots and not least how to get Matt Doherty into the team, as McCarthy explained after the win over Georgia on Tuesday. But if matters are all running smoothly on the pitch then the same can’t quite be said for the boardroom where, as Emmet Malone reports, the association still has not provided the information requested by the Oireachtas committee which John Delaney and other board members will face next month.