The Morning Sports Briefing

Klinsmann talks Keane, Katie opens her title defence, battle of the outhalfs, a ban on mobile phones for rugby World Cup, Ireland’s 2023 bid and the rest of your morning’s sport headlines

As Ireland look to redeem themselves or as manager Martin O’Neill puts it; “get back to winning ways” against the USA in tonight’s international friendly match, things are looking a lot more positive for their opposition.

Yesterday O'Neill spent his time assuring the media that he remains entirely supportive of his assistant manager Roy Keane despite the so-called distractions put to him.

A day previously Keane had made comments relating to the commitment of Premier League side Everton in releasing their players for international duty, as well as commenting on the ongoing Jack Grealish saga.

Meanwhile, USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann, looking every bit the advertisement for turning 50 and living in California, told reporters during a pre-match press conference in the Aviva how his team are now focused on emulating the very best sides in the world.


The former German striker, who will lose out on a numberof his preferred squad members who cannot feature tonight due to the impending MLS play-offs, recognised Ireland's sole absentee from that same list. Kilinsman referred to Irish captain and LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane as a "role model" for young players in the United States.

Taylor in full swing this morning

Katie Taylor may be a four-time world champion boxer, an Olympic gold medalist and the unanimous star in the world of women’s boxing, but there’s one record she still craves. As she begins her pursuit of a fifth consecutive world title with this morning’s fight against Dominica’s Valerian Spicer in Jeju city, Taylor has her mind set on in doing so equalling the record of Indian fighter Mary Kom.

Yesterday the Irish contingent began the action in this year's World championships, and for Clare Grace it was a fantastic start to the competition. A cut eye couldn't hold her back from claiming a first win, although it was an early exit for Joanna Lambe who was defeated by the impressive Qiong Lu from China.

Players’ support

The Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland has defended convicted rapist Ched Evans on their official website. The association's solicitor Stuart Gilhooly, who referred to Evans' crime as alleged despite the fact he was found guilty in court, claims that he could be innocent and that, even if guilty, he deserves a chance of redemption.

Outhalf battle

As now third placed in the world Ireland prepare for their final Autumn international rugby fixture with Australia this weekend, there's been some worrying news with revelation that Ulster flanker Chris Henry suffered a blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain prior to the fixture with South Africa the weekend before last.

The 30-year-old, who was set to start that match, will now undergo further scans and is said to be in a good state.

There is some positive injury news for manager Joe Schmidt though as hooker Rory Best returns to full fitness and is now available for selection for the first time in this series.

With the IRB World Player of the Year award set to be named this weekend, all eyes will be on Irish outhalf and nominee for the award Johnny Sexton.

His likely opposite number on the day though, the New-Zealand born Quade Cooper, has been discussing the task at hand. Full of praise for Sexton's style and form, Cooper also discussed the return of former Leinster and now Australian coach Michael Cheika.

Home comfort

Over in Australia the Irish International Rules squad continue their preperations for their one-off test against Australia. Last week defender Finian Hanley discussed the positives of the hybrid game's new short kickout restrictions, although Sean Moran caught up with Irish goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke, who will have to cope with the added pressure brought on by the rule change.

Back home and the Dublin clubs taking part in this weekend's Leinster club championship semi-finals will both benefit from home advantage with the hurling and football fixtures being drawn for Parnell Park.

Dublin hurling champions Kilmacud Crokes will have the unenviable task of facing Henry Shefflin led Kilkenny champions Ballyhale Shamrocks. .

‘The whole of Ireland’

Ireland's bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup hinges upon plans for redeveloping the Belfast venue Casement Park. The Irish Independent report that according to the chairman of the Irish Rugby Football Union's bid for the finals, former Lions fullback Hugo McNeill, With the GAA already agreeing to provide stadiums for a number of games he insists that if it's going to work for Ireland, "it's got to work for the whole of Ireland."

Meanwhile the Telegraph report that players are facing a World Cup mobile phone ban next summer to protect the tournament from match-fixing or corruption. The International Rugby Board is said to be considering the process.

Unbeaten champion let loose

Interstingly the Guardian are reporting that the two whistleblowers whose anonymity was effectively blown by Fifa's summary of its probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments have submitted complaints about their treatment at the hands of investigators.

The pair are claiming they were promised anonymity by investigators and that the safety of their family is now threatened.

And Willie Mullins hasn't ruled out giving the unbeaten Faugheen his long-awaited first start of the new season in Saturday's Coral Ascot Hurdle. The hugely exciting new Champion Hurdle favourite is one of 11 entries for a Grade Two prize that Mullins won with another Rich Ricci-owned star, Annie Power, in 2013.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a sports journalist with The Irish Times