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Iain Henderson set to face the All Blacks; Time for FAI to back Kenny with contract

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

Iain Henderson looks set to be the only new face to come into the starting XV to face the All Blacks on Saturday. According to Gerry Thornley, the word is that Henderson is in line for a recall when Andy Farrell unveils his side at lunchtime today, with Tadhg Beirne moving to the bench, in an otherwise unchanged match-day 23. It appears as if the extra power the Ulster captain provides in the second row is something that Farrell wants in his side's engine room for such a pivotal clash. Before then though, the Ireland women's team is in action on Friday night at the RDS against the USA. The build-up to the match has been dominated by the reaction of current and former players to comments made by the IRFU director of women's ruby Anthony Eddy during the week. Both Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Nichola Fryday addressed the situation, remaining coy on the comments while supporting teammates such as Cliodhna Moloney who spoke out against Eddy. As Murphy Crowe explained: "I'll support Cliodhna, she's my teammate. I support all my teammates, but that is Cliodhna's comment and for me personally throughout these next three days, I'm solely focused on the game."

For the first time in a long time, Ireland look set to play in front of a packed out Aviva tonight as Portugal come to town. Yes, these two last World Cup qualifies are dead rubbers in name as Ireland have no chance of progressing, but the excitement around a group that has found its winning touch shows as punters are desperate to see Stephen Kenny's side (alongside Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo) in the flesh . Gavin Cummiskey writes this morning about how the Kenny project is finally showing green shoots, and the FAI board should endorse their man by extending his contract soon. On the team news front, Andrew Omobamidele is a serious doubt with an achilles problem, while Jayson Molumby is definitely out with a hamstring issue. Portugal are missing Man City's Bernardo Silva while PSG defender Nuno Mendes is suspended, but as Mary Hannigan explains, fellow defender João Cancelo comes into this one arguably in the form of his life.

In her column today, Joanne O'Riordan takes a look at Athenry Camogie Club's development plans for their grounds for girls in the community. The club will be turning 50 years old in 2023, and, all going well, as well as being incredible pioneers for the women's game, they're also hoping to build history. The end result will be a camogie centre of excellence, the first of its kind. Young footballer of the year Oisín Mullin looked set to head over to the AFL according to reports from last week, though no official confirmation has come through as of yet. Ciarán Murphy analyses the recent history of Irish players heading to Oz, their fortunes, failures and ability to fall into the safety net of returning to GAA action back home: "Being very, very, very good at something - anything - is an extremely enjoyable experience (I am reliably informed). Deciding to reward yourself for that excellence by taking up a different sport, where you will be surrounded by people much better than you at this new sport, might make sense financially, but it's a pretty odd thing to do psychologically."

Amy Hunter has been named the Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the month for October. Despite a long list of noteworthy candidates ranging from the Irish football team - led by Katie McCabe - who won away at Finland, or Emma Slevin who became the first Irish gymnast to qualify for the all-round finals of the world championships, it proved too hard to resist the historic achievement of Hunter. The Methodist College student became the youngest ever player, male or female, to score a one-day international century last month, and on of all days, she did it on her 16th birthday, hitting an unbeaten 121 for Ireland against Zimbabwe in Harare, off just 127 balls.