The Morning Sports Briefing
Team selections, Irish soccer fans’ fury, ‘Cha’ says Cody can ring away, the ‘pill popping culture’, the French footballer who was trapped in Qatar and the rest of your morning’s sport headlines
Gordon D’Arcy above with assistant coach Les Kiss, looks set to start for Ireland against Australia. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
As Ireland look forward to their final game of the Autumn series and their final game of the international rugby calendar year against Australia on Saturday, manager Joe Schmidt has the unenviable task of picking Ireland’s starting fifteen off the back of two very different but nonetheless impressive performances so far in the series.
Yet despite the show of strength-in-depth provided in the Georgia victory last weekend, neither of the two new players set to be included on Saturday, who did not start in the South Africa victory, are endorsements of that performance.
The ever-reliable Gerry Thornley predicts that the returning Rory Best will fill in at hooker having missed out on the two previous tests through injury, while the much-experienced Gordon D’Arcy looks set to replace the injured Jared Payne with Robbie Henshaw shifting to outside centre, in the only changes from that team which defeated the Springboks.
For confirmation, or otherwise, the Irish team will be officially announced at 2pm today following the announcement of the Australian team already this morning.
The pre-match mental jostling has already begun on their part though with lock Rob Simmons warning the Irish that their maul tactic does not always work.
Boxing: Katie into the last eight
The other big news this morning comes as the ever-dependable Katie Taylor has triumphed once more in her last 16 World championship bout in Jeju. Johnny Watterson was ringside for the unanimous verdict, and he’s been giving an insight into the Korean “sleepy beach city which could be Bundoran - except for its king crab and tangerine trees.”
Soccer: Fan fury
Off-the-back of a mixed 2014 for Martin O’Neill the Republic of Ireland manager insists that he has overseen enough to feel positive ahead of the Poland fixture and beyond in 2015.
Following his team’s most recent victory over the USA though and Irish supporters’ group You Boys in Green (YBIG) has called for an explanation for the allegedly “heavy-handed treatment” meted out to some supporters by “stadium personnel” during that game in the Aviva.
GAA: No return for ‘Cha’
The International Rules series never falters as a topic of debate and often criticism, today GAA President Liam O’Neill has compared the concept of a gap year between the series as “like breaking off an engagement and going back again.”
Back home and once-Kilkenny and current Ballyhale Shamrocks midfielder James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick has at 29 ruled out any possible return to the county set-up. He told The Irish Examiner that “Cody can ring away.”
Following his retirement yesterday, former Kerry footballer Mikey Sheehy believes Declan O’Sullivan will take his place among the greats of Kerry football, telling the Irish Independent that he is the county's greatest ever centre forward.
NFL: Pill popping
Dave Hannigan has been looking at the NFL’s ‘no pain, no gain’ culture, following a number of former players revolting against the condoned and often forced pill-popping treatment carried out by their team’s medical staff. They allege that before games they were given Toradol, an anti-inflammatory drug commonly used on racehorses.
The Irish Examiner are reporting that IBF super-bantamweight world champion Carl Frampton is set to make his first title defence in Belfast’s Odyssey Arena in February, his opponent being American Chris Avalos.
Meanwhile in the Guardian, following the controversial appointment of Malky Mackay as Wigan manager, the Kick It Out Racism group have condemned the club for “jumping the gun” on an ongoing FA investigation into racist, sexist and homophobic text messages sent by the former Cardiff manager.
The Guardian have also reported that the French footballer who was trapped in Qatar for 19 months because of its kafala employment system, has said he was surprised to see Dahlan Jumaan al-Hamad, the man who “destroyed” him, leading Doha’s successful bid to host the 2019 World Athletics Championships.