Positives for Ireland heading to Twickenham; can Stephen Kenny ever catch a break?

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

Leinster’s Scott Fardy and Luke Crosbie of Edinburgh compete in a lineout. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Leinster’s Scott Fardy and Luke Crosbie of Edinburgh compete in a lineout. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Playing England at Twickenham, no matter what the circumstances, is always going to mean that little bit more and this Saturday at 3pm Ireland will look to build on Friday’s win over Wales and reverse the trends of the last two trips. In his column this morning, Gerry Thornley writes that there are positive signs in Ireland’s play and this Saturday will be a real test of that. “Ireland have some demons to exorcise next Saturday and bringing more of an unpredictable attack - admittedly on the basis of the kind of strong set-pieces and physicality in the collisions witnessed against Wales – would be a help,” he writes. The impressive debut of James Lowe has been cause for encouragement for Andy Farrell’s side and the winger says that, despite the absences of Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw, Ireland can show up physically against England. Finally, in last night’s Pro14 action, Dan Leavy was man of the match for Leinster as they racked up 50 points in a trouncing of Edinburgh while Ulster breezed past Zebre with nine tries.

Moving on to soccer and Ireland manager Stephen Kenny must be wondering when he can possibly catch a break. Yesterday, James McClean and Matt Doherty became the latest Ireland players to test positive for Covid-19 meaning that, heading in to Wednesday night’s clash with Bulgaria, Kenny is now missing 14 of the 24 players who have played under him so far. It must be noted as well that Ireland have been hit particularly hard by the virus given the fact that, of our nearest neighbours, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have not reported any cases while Scotland have had just one. Elsewhere, Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have had their offer to buy Wrexham approved by over 90 per cent of the club’s supporters’ trust.

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