The Morning Sports Briefing

Liverpool’s struggles continue, FAI finally respond as Scottish FA look for action, professionalism in the GAA, tragedy in Australia and the rest of your morning’s sport headlines

Brendan Rodgers the manager of Liverpool looks on from the bench on Wednesday night. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers the manager of Liverpool looks on from the bench on Wednesday night. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

The Champions League action continued last night with both Liverpool and Arsenal attempting to make it a first clean sweep of Premier League victories in the competition since match day three back in 2011.

Only for a late Ludogorets equaliser against Liverpool in Bulgaria and that would have been realised. Trailing by a goal within three minutes last year’s league runners-up looked to have turned it around before switching off for a late corner allowing a second goal for the home team. They remain hopeful of qualification nonetheless as a Real Madrid win over Basle has now set up a winner takes all affair with the Swiss’ champions in Anfield on the final match day of the group.

Elsewhere and Arsenal responded to last weekend’s demoralising defeat to Manchester United with a 2-0 victory over already qualified Borussia Dortmund.

Soccer: FAI respond

Both Everton and West Ham have been charged by the English FA for failing to control their players after a tackle by Irish international James McCarthy sparked an on-field melee during last Saturday’s game.

Back home and the FAI have released a statement in which its president Tony Fitzgerald says that the organisation’s board is entirely happy with the way chief executive John Delaney is running the organisation despite the renewed controversy that the 47 year-old has generated over the past few days.

“Following recent coverage of the cyber bullying of his partner Emma and the fact that John has publicly apologised if he offended anyone for singing the nationalist song in question, we are happy to bring the matter to a close,” he says, apparently linking the two.

According to The Irish Daily Mail, Scottish chief executive Stewert Regan has said that the FAI need to “deal” with Delaney. Scotland travel to the Aviva in the new year for a Europena championship qualifier match and Regan has said he is not in favour of any form of “bigotry”.

Meanwhile and The Telegraph have reported that Fifa are facing the threat of a UK criminal inquiry after they revealed that the Serious Fraud Office was actively seeking evidence relating to its World Cup corruption probe.

Rugby: Kiss outlines strategy

It’s hard to find faults with Ireland’s recent performances, up to third in the world and off-the-back of November wins over South Africa and Australia, but Ireland’s defence coach Less Kiss has been answering Gavin Cummiskey’s questions over the predictability of our play and the lack of fluidity and strategy in our attack.

One player who can’t stop scoring tries, five in his last six games now, is Leinster winger Darragh Fanning. Talking to Gerry Thornley about his remarkable past 18 months, the 28-year-old’s story gives real hope for late developers and All-Ireland League players everywhere.

GAA: Donaghy after the cherry on top

Kieran Donaghy may have come from near oblivion to help Kerry secure another All-Ireland title last September, and with that collect his third All Star award, although a first Munster club medal would crown an already memorable season for the Austin Stacks veteran.

His manager Stephen Stack has been explaining the hard work that went into his remarkable turnaround season.

On the GAA retirement front, which would nearly consume a section of it’s own given recent activity, and Kilkenny have lost a further two players after both Brian Hogan and Aidan Fogarty announced that they have hung up their hurls for the county.

That brings it to four Kilkenny retirements in the one week, and with that 28 All-Ireland medals’ worth of experience lost.

The Irish Examiner have been reviewing the growing demands for professionalism within the GAA, with now up to 80 percent of GAA fans in favour of such, led by former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy explaining the impact successful TV coverage in the US and the UK is having upon the association.

Cricket: Tragic news

Following the incident which left him concussed and in a critical condition during a game in Sydney last Tuesday, Australia cricketer Phil Hughes has died in hospital. The 25-year-old batsman, who was wearing a helmet, was tragically struck in the back of the head by a bouncing ball which he took on.

In Golf and as Rory McIlroy returns to the venue where he turned his form back around this time last year,the man he edged to that Australian Open title has welcomed the challenge of the week ahead. Adam Scott says he certainly has a thorn in his side after last year in Sydney and he’s relishing a second crack at the world number one this week.

Shane Lowry’s column this morning expresses his obvious delight at finally breaking into the world’s top 50, as well as nailing his first hole-in-one last week in Dubai.There was a nice prize in it for him too.

Athletics: Five years later

Ireland’s Roisin McGettigan has received her bronze medal for the women’s 1,500m at the 2009 European Athletics Indoor Championships, five years later. Russia’s Anna Alminova, the initial winner, was stripped of her medal for cheating and therefore fourth-placed McGettigan now takes the bronze in what she admits to Ian O’Riordan is a bit of a”bizarre” situation.

To snooker and Patrick Madden caught up with former world champion Ken Doherty who will begin the UK Championship this Thursday as one of just three Irish players, so what’s happened to our dwindling playing pool?

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