Six Nations results will have little bearing in Japan; Padraig Harrington is back in action
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
John O’Sullivan’s column this morning questions the importance of the Six Nations in a World Cup year. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
In his column this morning, John O’Sullivan asks and answers - “what relevance will Ireland’s results in the 2019 Six Nations have in predetermining Ireland’s fate in Japan? The short answer is none based on the evidence of the last two World Cups.” Nine players, almost a third of the 31-man squad that travelled to the 2015 World Cup, did not play a single minute of the Six Nations of that year. In 2011, there were eight players who did likewise. Next year’s Six Nations fixtures were released yesterday, and Andy Farrell will take charge of his first game as Ireland head coach against Scotland in Dublin.
The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has described reports that FAI chief executive John Delaney loaned the association €100,000 in April 2017 as “unusual” but says that the matter is one for the organisation’s own board to resolve and that he does not see it as resigning matter for the 51 year-old. Ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying opener against Gibraltar on Saturday, and Wolves right back Matt Doherty is in a much happier place within Mick McCarthy’s new set-up: “The atmosphere is definitely different, not just around the players but around the whole place. Everyone seems to be just a bit happier, enjoying it more; training is a bit more fun.”
Padraig Harrington is back in action for the first time since November at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia this morning, and is hoping for some “good karma” in what was traditionally his season-opener. He admits though it could be several months before his wrist is 100 per cent. Seamus Power is the only Irishman in the field at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida this week.
Legendary trainer John Oxx has given his stamp of approval to the new Curragh racecourse redevelopment. The Curragh’s first meeting of the year is scheduled for May 6th. On the eve of his 40th season as a trainer, Oxx suggested the wait will be worth it and played down any significance to a three-week delay: “I like that it’s compact. There are a lot of ordinary days as opposed to Derby day and they’re the days you want to create a little atmosphere. I think they’ve done a great job.”
Meanwhile Naas CBS won their second consecutive Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship crown last night, with an extra-time win over Wicklow Schools at Parnell Park.