The Northern Ireland team stand for the national anthem. “When I came in I could see that a lot of the players from nationalist backgrounds would stand with their heads down,” said former  manager Michael O’Neill. Photograph: William Cherry/Inpho/Presseye

While admiring the chutzpah of Michael O’Neill, the former Northern Ireland football team manager, for calling it as it is, he has got to be careful f(...)

Ireland captain Willie Anderson faces up to New Zealand captain Wayne Shelford as the All Blacks perform  the Haka in 1989. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The Best Crossing The Line by Willie Anderson and Brendan Fanning (Reach Sport, €19.99) The best books this year are rugby books. This, it’s fair to (...)

Ireland’s Andrew Porter faces the Haka before the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Today, the Irish players have been given the rare gift of testing themselves against the best team on the planet - New Zealand. On the wide expanses (...)

Willie Anderson during his time as Leinster defensive coach in 2004. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

There is a stark line in Willie Anderson’s new book that contains multitudes. It reads: ‘Argentina destroyed Mum.’ It’s a reference to the summer and(...)

Rory Best gets a send-off from fellow Irish players after his final game for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, the World Cup warm-up against Wales in September 2019. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

“It was another one of those nights and I went in to the local chicken shop, as you do,” Rory Best says as he remembers a drunken time long before he (...)

David McCann: “It’s a great honour to be asked to captain the side.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho  I

New Irish under-20 captain David McCann said it is a huge honour to be asked to lead the side and the promising Ulster backrow said he can’t wait for (...)

Ulster team manager Bryn Cunningham: ‘I came in around November 2014 and we had a very strong first XV on paper that year and in subsequent years but there wasn’t the depth below that.’ Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

It is March 2018, the Belfast rape trial is ongoing, when Ulster hosts a meeting with season ticket holders. The room is soaked in vitriol as supporte(...)

Devin Toner wins a lineout during the Autumn International against New Zealand at the Aviva stadium in November 2018. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

On the Thursday afternoon before the opening game of this year’s Six Nations against England, my phone started to light up. Joe Schmidt had selected R(...)

Rory McIlroy reacts after making a birdie from off the green on the 16th hole during the second round of the 119th US Open Championship at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Photo: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Should Rory McIlroy summon the weekend spirit of Ontario, there would be little point in the remainder of this US Open field turning up for rounds thr(...)

 Brooks Koepka plays a shot from the 18th tee during a practice round prior to the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, California.   Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy’s four Major triumphs between 2011 and 2014 hinted at separation from the rest of the world’s leading contenders. After Jordan Spieth cla(...)

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