Schmidt wants Ireland to come out firing; the new hostile world for GAA referees

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

Legia Warsaw fans unveil a banner of Pope John Paul II during their Europa League qualifying clash with Rangers at Ibrox. Photo: Robert Perry/EPA

Legia Warsaw fans unveil a banner of Pope John Paul II during their Europa League qualifying clash with Rangers at Ibrox. Photo: Robert Perry/EPA

Confidence and belief. That was the message from Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt yesterday as his side face into what could now be a pivotal World Cup warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff. Ireland have a lot of pride to regain after last week’s Twickenham hammering and Schmidt wants his side to come out firing. “The message is probably to keep your belief. Not to go into your shell. You can’t afford to go into your shell now. We’ve got two games left, we have to get out and express ourselves, we have to get out and play the game,” he said yesterday. One thing that does worry Schmidt somewhat is the presence of Felix Jones in the South African coaching staff. The former Ireland international has been appointed to the role of attack coach for the World Cup by Rassie Erasmus and Schmidt says it creates “an awkward situation”. In his column this morning Liam Toland writes that proficiency in possession is the key for Ireland in Cardiff tomorrow. In Twickenham last week England swamped Ireland’s ball and Toland writes that we must not let that happen again. One man who wants exactly that to happen is Warren Gatland who tomorrow will take charge of his final Wales match in Cardiff. The Kiwi is a familiar foe for Ireland and he said yesterday that he wants his side to ‘derail’ the World Cup chances of Joe Schmidt’s side. Don’t forget you can follow all of the build-up to Japan with columns, analysis, news, interviews, stats, fixtures and much more on our dedicated 2019 Rugby World Cup site. You can also follow full coverage of Ireland’s clash with Wales tomorrow on our liveblog which will begin at 1.45pm.

It’s certainly been a long week of build-up to both the rugby and the All-Ireland final but the good news is that it’s finally nearly over and the action can get going on the pitch. One man who will be in the spotlight in Croke Park on Sunday is referee David Gough. The Meathman has had his loyalties questioned on a number of occasions already by those of a Kerry persuasion and, as Seán Moran writes, the social media world now means that referees are facing new levels of hostility day on day. Another role which has always attracted its fair share of attention is that of the Kerry captain and, as Gvain White explained to Ian O’Riordan, it’s a role that comes with a lot of responsibilities. Meanwhile, one factor of Dublin’s new found dominance which isn’t mentioned quite as much as the funding and the coaching and everything else is, of course, the startled earwigs. It’s just 10 summers since then Dublin manager Pat Gilroy called on that description after their 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final performance against Kerry and during the week Paul Griffin reflected on that disappointing day for the Dubs in 2009.

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