Tokyo 2020 digest: Irish rowers impress but disappointment for Woolley

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

It's been a mixed night and early morning for Irish athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games with success on the water, in the boxing ring and on the pommel horse but disappointment in taekwondo. From Tokyo, Ian O'Riordan and Johnny Watterson round-up the day one action so far where Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy were impressive in their lightweight doubles sculls heats while the women's four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty also booked their place in Wednesday's final. In the boxing, Kurt Walker got the Games off to a winning start for Ireland while Rhys McClenaghan set the standard in the men's pommel horse, underlining his tag as a gold medal favourite. However, Jack Woolley suffered a surprising loss in his opening taekwondo bout. The Dubliner could still claim a bronze medal if he makes it to the repechage but he had his sights set on better than that.

After a strange opening ceremony on Friday, Johnny Watterson writes that this could be the Games of who coped best with the pandemic gloom. "In the last 18 months the pandemic has held a schizophrenic grip on an addled and divided population and yet this year Ireland has sent the largest team to an Olympics than at any time in its history," he writes. Meanwhile, Ian O'Riordan writes that a chill hit the veins as he entered the Tokyo Olympic Stadium 57 years after his father competed there for Ireland. Also this morning, Mary Hannigan takes a look at 10 athletes to watch across the Games including everyone from swimmers to runners, gymnasts to surfers, pole-vaulters and skateboarders. We've got a busy two weeks ahead as Ireland's largest ever Olympic team compete in Tokyo and you can follow it all via our special Tokyo 2020 site with Ian O'Riordan and Johnny Watterson reporting from the Japanese capital.

However, there is still other sport going on! This evening, after a fraught Covid-hit build-up, the Lions get their first Test underway against South Africa at 5pm. It looks to be very much in the balance as to who will come out on top and this morning Gerry Thornley writes thatthe Lions can pull through once they keep the Springboks in their sights. It's also a busy weekend of GAA action with hurling taking centre stage on Saturday. In his column this morning, Nicky English writes that Clare always seem to self-destruct but they should see off Cork while Seán Moran previews all of the weekend's matches.

Elsewhere, Ruaidhrí Croke took a trip to Edenderry Golf Club to speak to some members about how they saved the club from the brink of extinction last year by buying the debt back from a vulture fund and turning around what looked to be a hopeless situation. Finally, in his Saturday column, Keith Duggan writes that no one does a heatwave better than the Irish.