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Ireland’s night in Helsinki; Farrell’s November squad fails to reshuffle the deck

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

Niamh Fahey celebrates after the Finland win with goal scorer Denise O’Sullivan. Photograph: Kalle Parkkinen/Inpho

Ireland's bid for World Cup qualification is on track after a nervy 1-2 victory over Finland in Helsinki. It was a game in which Ireland were asked to defend for large periods, with skipper Katie McCabe as sensational as ever in her role as wingback, but ultimately goals from Megan Connolly and Denise O'Sullivan were enough to fly home with victory. Ireland now sit three points behind last night's opponents who currently occupy a play-off spot, albeit Finland have played a game more. As Gavin Cummiskey notes, everything is possible now for the most gifted and clearly most tenacious women's team the country has ever known. Head coach Vera Pauw was understandably delighted with the result, particularly with a series of inspirational last-minute defensive interventions from her group of 'tigers.' Not surprisingly, on a night when Ireland secured their first qualification win of the campaign, the player ratings make for good reading.

Andy Farrell's November squad is conservative and is too focused on the upcoming fixtures rather than the 2023 World Cup, writes Gordan D'Arcy this morning. Though some young players such as the uncapped Ciarán Frawley and Dan Sheehan have been included, Ireland are not shuffling the deck during this test window in the same manner that other countries would be. It is clear where the priorities lie at the moment: "the makeup of the Irish squad has a whiff of results superseding all other concerns." Ahead of these Ireland tests, Gerry Thornley tells us how captain Johnny Sexton is raring to go after a quiet international summer.

After last weekend's GAA Special Congress where option B for restructuring the football championship failed to secure the necessary 60 per cent of the vote, Seán Moran this morning outlines how too many loose ends in the proposal doomed it to failure. In particular, the history of the championship's provincial identity would always have made it difficult to pass. "Advocates of motion 19 appeared to realise too late that the provincial championships were hard wired into the way the GAA does its business to such an extent that ripping out all the connections was a daunting prospect."

Letesenbet Gidney made athletics history on Sunday when competing in the Valencia half marathon. In her first attempt at the 13.1-mile distance, the 23-year-old Ethiopian clocked 62 minutes and 52 seconds, becoming the first woman in history to officially break not just the 64-minute barrier, but the 63-minute barrier too. Ian O'Riordan explores how Gidney's effort is the latest in a series of athletics records that continue to tumble.