Ireland fans vote on Kenny with their feet; Sexton continues to defy age

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

Johnny Sexton’s start to the season shows that age is but a number to him. Photograph: Tim Clayton/Getty Images

Johnny Sexton’s start to the season shows that age is but a number to him. Photograph: Tim Clayton/Getty Images

The international soccer action continues tonight as Ireland welcome next year’s World Cup hosts Qatar to the Aviva Stadium. According to Gavin Cummiskey,Tuesday evening’s friendly suggests that the Irish football fan believes in what Stephen Kenny is doing while holding a genuine grá for the 19- and 20-year-olds the manager has fast-tracked into the international arena. If you want to know more about Ireland’s visitors, James McDermott takes a look at Qatar’s recent form and their domestic competition.The biggest name to have played in their ‘Domestic Stars League’ is one Pep Guardiola, whose spell at Al Ahli between 2003 and 2005 made an unwelcome recent appearance in the Pandora Papers amid allegations that his wages were deposited in an undeclared offshore bank account in Andorra to avoid paying tax.

Moving onto rugby, Gerry Thornley in his column this morning looks at how Johnny Sexton’s impressive start to the season continues to defy expectations given his age profile. The disappointment endured by Sexton at having been overlooked for the Lions tour has been offset by the Leinster flyhalf being able to appear in a season opener for the first time since 2009, an opportunity upon which the Ireland captain has pounced. Sticking with Leinster, Johnny Watterson explains how the province is in talks with the government over a €10 million shortfall in their budget for the redevelopment of the RDS. However, any plans must come to fruition relatively quickly as the planning permission awarded for work on the ground expires in 2023. Yesterday’s briefing outlined how Munster were nervously awaiting news on an injury picked up by talismanic lock RG Snyman. Confirmation came through last night that the Springbok faces yet another lengthy spell on the sidelines after re-rupturing his ACL.

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