Subscriber OnlySport

Forget the 2023 World Cup for now; Carrick starts off with a win

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

Michael Carrick started off his United tenure with a Champions League win. Photograph: David S Bustamante/Getty Images

Spare us all the World Cup talk, there's too much scope for change between now and 2023. So says Gordon D'Arcy in his column today as he dissects Ireland's much-improved performances over the last three weeks, a series of results that represents a big achievement for Andy Farrell and his staff. Yet that's exactly what this Autumn Nations Series is, a standalone achievement, there is little it can tell us about Ireland's quest to banish their quarter-final hoodoo. On the eve of their South African mini-tour - starting this Saturday against the Bulls, a familiar stomping ground for Johann van Graan and Jason Jenkins - Munster have announced that Stephen Larkham has turned down a contract extension in favour of a job opportunity closer to his native Australia after this season. It marks a significant change of tune from the attack coach who not that long ago was unequivocal about his desire to stay in Limerick for the long haul.

Champions League action returned last night as Michael Carrick kickstarted his interim tenure - however long that will prove to be - with a victory away to Villarreal. Chelsea also secured a dominant win to avenge a previous defeat in Turin, swatting aside Juventus 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. Mary Hannigan takes a look at the TV coverage of the first United game of the post-Ole era: "The only thing lifting the morale of Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves was the realisation that they would never again be asked by Jake Humphrey if Ole should go. Done and dusted, that one." Roma McLaughlin is currently in Ireland camp preparing for the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and Georgia, but she also has her professional future in the back of her mind with the US NWSL draft coming up next month. McLaughlin, who is in her final year at Central Connecticut State University, talks about how she is trying to keep her post-college playing options open on both sides of the Atlantic.

It's two steps forward but one step back as far as the GAA are concerned, according to Seán Moran. Last Saturday's Central Council made the largely positive decision to do away with replays, but there were also two important changes to the schedule for next season. First of all, the preseason competitions were saved from extinction so long as they take place in January. Secondly, collective training is allowed to intrude all the way back to the first week of December. As Moran puts it: "The weekend's decision was a disappointing row-back on what should have been the first trial run of a proper split season with intercounty players allowed to enjoy what has become known as a 'meaningful' Christmas."

None of the horses tested at the Kildare yard raided by Gardaí have returned positive tests for prohibited substances. It is a break from usual policy for the IHRB to publish negative test results, but given the high-profile nature of this case, they have taken the unusual step of doing just that. Magnus Carlsen is a world champion chess grandmaster that has secured his legacy when it comes to his titles. Unlike previous champions though, he is the first to leverage his success for a greater fortune away from the game.