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Tempers fray in Champions League; change coming to GAA championships

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

Another wild night in the Champions League last night, as Manchester City squeezed past a dogged Atletico Madrid to book a place in the semi-finals. Felipe was sent off late in a "fraught, suffocating and full-blooded" encounter, but the trouble did not stop there as ugly scenes continues in the tunnel after the game. Players needed to be separated and objects were thrown. According to BT Sport, police officers were needed to bring order. Liverpool also progressed after a thrilling six-goal draw with Benfica. The possibility of a City-Liverpool finale to the Premier League and Champions League remains.

Controversy follows Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels as he takes an all-too-familiar stance in apology for comments claimed female footballers more emotional than men. Meanwhile, calls for Ireland's women's soccer team to switch their Finland game from Tallaght to the Aviva stadium are growing louder after their impressive draw against Sweden.

In his column today, Ciarán Murphy writes (Subscriber Only) that change is coming this year in the All-Ireland championship, but sometimes change is good, just ask the Galway hurlers. It took 12 years after 1997 for Galway to be introduced into the Leinster championship, but even at that they were not allowed the benefit of home games, as their participation in the All-Ireland has been in a state of flux. Joanne O'Riordan writes that Meath are reaping rich rewards for their efforts, as to see the growth of ladies' football and the rise of the underdogs adds an intriguing storyline to the game.

Rachael Blackmore is this month's Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the month as she added to a stellar winning CV with Cheltenham Gold Cup victory on A Plus Tard. Those tasked with unearthing new ways of describing her history-busting achievements have a difficult job, the thesaurus all used up. Gaillard Du Mesnil heads the top 51 in Irish Grand National reckoning, as the Willie Mullins-trained horse remains the clear 6-1 favourite for Easter Monday race.

In rugby, Gerry Thornley writes that Jack O'Donoghue is growing more comfortable in the leadership role, as the backrow says Munster must put missed opportunities behind them in the second leg against Exeter on Saturday. Josh van der Flier plans to keep the pressure up on Jack Carty, who describes Carty as "dangerous" and someone who can "do it all" ahead of Leinster's Champions Cup Round of 16 second leg against Connacht tomorrow night. Finally, there is double delight for the Wafer family, as sisters Aoife and Orla made their respective senior and U18 international debuts in the Six Nations on a momentous weekend.