Real and Chelsea meet for first time; O’Gara has makings of a great Irish coach

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

Fans watch the World Snooker Championships at The Crucible on Monday. Photograph: Getty Images

Fans watch the World Snooker Championships at The Crucible on Monday. Photograph: Getty Images

Real Madrid and Chelsea meet tonight in the first of this season’s Champions League semi-finals (kick-off at 8pm), for a battle that is special because less is more: “The rivalry is new and untouched. Chelsea and Madrid have never met in this competition, which must disgust the plotters who want them in a closed league every year.” Kelechi Iheanacho’s latest match-winning effort should now suffice to ensure Leicester their place in next season’s Champions League. He continued his superb goalscoring run with the decisive goal 10 minutes from time as Leicester came from behind to earn their victory against Crystal Palace.

In his column this morning, Gerry Thornley explains why Ronan O’Gara has all the makings of a great Ireland coach: “there is a manifest belief, not just hope and not just held in Munster, that O’Gara has the credentials to be a seriously successful coach both for his province and for his country, but the longer he builds toward that the better. His playing career, deep knowledge of the game, intelligence and relationship-building also suggest as much.” Former Ireland captain Rory Best is to make is first foray into coaching with the Seattle Seawolves in America’s Major League Rugby, he’s to take up the role of skills coach. Owen Doyle believes the opportunity knocks to make real change in the IRFU’s governance: “There are many wise and qualified business brains among rugby supporters, including retired players and referees, who have the necessary independent expertise and who would be interested in sitting at the table. Conversely, the majority of these would likely see the current system as utterly unappealing.”

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