Month: November 2022

Home / Month: November 2022

JOHNNY SEXTON SENT a memorable birthday present to Anthony Foley’s son Dan earlier this year.

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During RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live, Anthony’s father Brendan told the story of how Sexton posted a jersey to Dan which he wore in Ireland’s thrilling Six Nations victory over France that was settled by Sexton’s last-minute drop goal.

Brendan was speaking on the show about Munster’s famous win over the All Blacks in 1978 when he mentioned the special present Dan received from Sexton.

“A parcel arrived in the post last March, and just to coincide, it was Dan’s birthday.

“[It was] the one he wore in Paris the day he scored the winning points.”

Munster legend and former head coach Anthony Foley passed away suddenly in 2016 at the age of 42.

He was in Paris with the Munster team for a European Champions Cup game against Racing 92 when he died suddenly from a heart rhythm disorder that caused an acute pulmonary edema.

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JOSH VAN DER Flier will start for Ireland against the All Blacks tomorrow at the Aviva Stadium [KO 7pm, RTÉ/Channel 4] after Dan Leavy was ruled out with injury.

Leavy sat out Ireland’s training session yesterday, with head coach Joe Schmidt citing “full body soreness” as the reason for the openside flanker’s absence.

With Leavy ruled out, van der Flier starts for Ireland.

The Leinster man was named in Ireland’s starting team yesterday but with Leavy also missing today’s captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium, he has now been officially ruled out.

Ireland cited “general tightness” as the reason Leavy misses out, declining to provide further detail.

Leavy’s injury means van der Flier is promoted from the bench into the starting number seven shirt, with Jordi Murphy now included among the replacements.

The injury to Leavy follows Ireland losing Sean O’Brien to a broken arm last weekend against Argentina, denying him the opportunity to face the All Blacks.

Schmidt is also without centre Robbie Henshaw, out with a hamstring injury, and scrum-half Conor Murray, who has still not returned from a neck issue. 

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

– Originally published at 13.00

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Scotland 14Argentina 9

SCOTLAND MAY NOT have been at their free-flowing best, but Gregor Townsend’s side finished 2018 on a high note with a 14-9 victory over Argentina on Saturday.

Three penalties from captain Greig Laidlaw and a superb try from Sean Maitland proved enough to secure a third successive home win for Scotland over Argentina.

While Laidlaw was accurate from the tee, Argentina rued a number of wasted opportunities to add to their total — Nicolas Sanchez, three times, and Emiliano Boffelli both unable to convert.

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Those 12 points would have secured a third away win in 15 matches for the Pumas, but instead they head into 2019 having lost all three matches in Europe this month.

The opening half did little to lift the subdued atmosphere inside Murrayfield, play getting bogged down in midfield as both sides relied on their kicking game in wet conditions.

Laidlaw put Scotland in front inside four minutes after Santiago Medrano had been caught offside, but Sanchez and Boffelli both missed chances to bring the Pumas level from the tee.

Just before the half hour Sanchez found his range as Argentina enjoyed some possession in the Scotland half, but parity did not last long as Laidlaw restored the hosts’ lead from close range.

Sanchez did level the scores just after the restart, but was again off-target when presented with a chance to put his side ahead.

That proved costly as Scotland responded with a superb break from out-half Adam Hastings that finally gave the fans something to get excited about.

Hastings’ break was held up but in the following phases Agustin Creevy was punished for a high tackle on Huw Jones, allowing Laidlaw to split the posts.

Just after the hour Maitland ran in the game’s only try, the winger profiting after Laidlaw and Stuart Hogg had spotted an opportunity down the blindside.

Laidlaw’s conversion attempt dropped just short and, after Sanchez had missed another penalty, Argentina were able to reduce their deficit.

Sanchez’s third penalty left the Pumas needing a converted try to claim the win, but handling errors denied them that chance as Scotland clung on to a slender victory. 

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AS MUCH AS Johann van Graan will continue to claim these are weeks like any other, there is something special afoot.

More than just the unique atmosphere promised by Thomond Park on a European matchday, Sunday seems set to be the day the head coach finally gets to field his first-choice playmakers.

Between Conor Murray’s early-season neck injury and Joey Carbery’s international commitments, Munster have not been able to pair their uber-classy creators this season. A home clash against the French champions is a fitting stage to debut the double act.

“Obviously they have trained a bit together, played for Ireland together and it is not something we have spent too much thought about,” said Van Graan when asked how much preparation time could have been invested in the partnership.

“If Joey and Conor get selected it will be like any normal week, get the job done in training and then get the job done on the field.”

Sealing the Grand Slam at Twickenham features in a brief showreel of the Carbery and Murray axis. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Since Carbery was introduced to Test rugby in Chicago two years ago, he and Murray have become well acquainted with one another. Yet their time on the field as a 9-10 combination has been rare. They have shared significant (i.e. more than five minutes) competitive gametime on just four occasions, most recently when Carbery started the first Test of the series against Australia. An earlier meeting with Australia in Dublin counts for another 49 minutes of playing time, when of course Carbery was playing as fullback. 

More often, they have spent fleeting late-match minutes as a pair or passed one another on the sideline as one shed a jacket and the other pulled one on.

Seeing them together, in red, is a mouthwatering prospect.

Carbery and Murray in training this week. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Selection appears straightforward, toss Carbery and CJ Stander in among the group who tore through Edinburgh, though Andrew Conway, Mike Haley and Stephen Archer are injury concerns for Van Graan as he mulls his team-sheet for Sunday.

Having recently celebrated his anniversary in charge of Munster, round three of Europe is another landmark for Van Graan. Last year’s back-to-back victories over Leicester Tigers were his first foray into European rugby, yet a year on Munster look in formidable shape as they welcome back Carbery and Murray as well as Chris Farrell and Tyler Bleyendaal. All of a sudden, Van Graan has a core of front-line talents who are almost alll fit and available, a fleet of new contracts and they are playing for a settled coaching ticket.

Things are on the up in the southern province.

“I would like to say a lot better prepared than a year ago,” says the South African.

Billy Holland and Van Graan talk tactics in training. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Obviously, it went pretty well the first two games against Leicester. At least a year in you have kinda had everything now for a second time, last year was the first time, now it’s the second time that we are going into this block.”

“Like I said from day one, it is never been about me, it has been about the team. We believe in our team. For me personally I have enjoyed every single moment of it, I do every day.

“It is never work where I drive here in the morning. It is all about coming to enjoy the day, enjoy what we are about and where we, hopefully, are going.

“It is no different than a year ago. The most important thing is what we do and players are happy and the management keep growing and we are taking each day a step of growth and becoming a better team.

“I think we have done it over the past few weeks.”

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MUNSTER WILL INSTALL additional seating at Thomond Park for their final Heineken Champions Cup pool game in January in anticipation of a sell-out for the visit of Exeter Chiefs.

With all four teams still in mathematic contention to progress through to the quarter-finals, Pool 2 is set to go down to the wire with Munster set to host the Premiership side in round six on Saturday 19 January.

Thomond Park is set to be sold out for Munster’s next two home games. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The southern province has already sold 21,000 tickets for the game and today announced it will install additional seating on the goal line at each end, giving as many supporters as possible the opportunity to see a potential pool-deciding clash.

It will bring the capacity of the Limerick venue up to 26,267, which has already been sold out for next week’s Guinness Pro14 inter-pro against Leinster on Saturday 29 December. 

Despite defeat to Castres last weekend, Johann van Graan’s side remain in pole position in the pool with two rounds remaining, and travel to face Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday 11 January. 

Munster say tickets for the north and south goalline are priced at €45, while terrace tickets range in price from €20-35 ahead of that round six showdown with the Chiefs.

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THERE WAS WIDESPREAD praise for TG4′s coverage of Munster’s Gunniess Pro14 clash with Connacht over the weekend, which featured a fascinating insight into Jerry Flannery’s coaching technique.

The Munster forwards coach was wearing a microphone during their warm-up which captured him offering some pre-match advice to Keith Earls as well as directing the scrum ahead of the inter-pro derby at the Sportsground.

“Practise some fielding because it’s actually not that bright,” he instructs Earls at one point during the short 44-second clip that was edited down from 15 minutes of audio.

Viewers were impressed with how the coverage engaged with the team’s preparation for the game, and the Irish language station is pleased with the response to their approach.

“We’ve been doing this since effectively Round 2 of this season,” Kieran Hartigan of Iris Productions and Executive Producer of TG4′s Rugbaí Beo coverage tells The42. 

“We’ve had warm-up interviews or audio snoops on Andy Friend, Nigel Carolan. We had a warm-up interview with Eoin Griffin on the day of his 100th cap and we’ve done one with Dan McFarland.

“This has been an evolutionary process for us.

“You also have to have a good relationship with the clubs and we’re lucky that we have strong relationships with the various clubs and we need to get them to buy into this type of thing because it can be quite exposing.”

Hartigan explains that Iris Productions have a long history of covering rugby, which in turn has allowed them to develop these important connections with the clubs.

They also produced various documentaries including ‘The West’s Awake’ and ‘Munster: The Brave & The Faithful,’ projects that have helped them strengthen a sense of trust with Connacht and Munster Rugby.

Additionally, Iris Productions have been observing the broadcasting features of NFL, NBA and AFL games, and have identified a gap in the Irish market to introduce similar ideas.

All those factors have combined to produce a broadcasting package that offers viewers a unique view of the action.

“I would say that it’s very gratifying for us that the relationship we have with the clubs enables us to provide this small glimpse behind the curtain,” says Hartigan.

Connacht head coach Andy Friend (file pic). Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I would give credit to Connacht Rugby for opening themselves up to this. We did an audio snoop with Andy Friend in Round 2 which allowed us to show that to the other clubs and you can establish your bona fide in that regard and being open to these kind of innovations.”

“You have to appreciate that we are encroaching on their match-day preparations so we had worked with Munster rugby to agree that we could do this with Jerry and simultaneously we had also worked with Brendan Loughnane in Connacht Rugby to have Andy Friend’s microphone in the warm-up as well.

TG4 Sport received glowing praise last year when they introduced small-screen replays for their live broadcast of Kilkenny’s clash with Tipperary in the Allianz NHL Division 1 final.

It allowed the audience to watch replays of a score without missing out on the live action.

Iris Productions’ inventive approach has allowed TG4 make similar strides with their rugby coverage and Hartigan emphasises that it’s part of their “wider ambition” for Rugbaí Beo.

New analysts have been introduced including Ireland international Eimear Considine and there are plans to develop the programme even more in the future.

“The production companies that are working with TG4 in terms of their sports output are constantly innovating and that’s primarily because they’re working with a broadcaster that’s pushing them to do that and we’re probably also pushing each other to do that as well.”

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Happy New Year

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates Arsenal’s fourth against Fulham on 1 January. Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth

‘Tis the season…

Kjetil Jansrud of Norway during his run on the Super G at the Stelvio in Italy. Source: Imago/PA Images

…for January hurling

Waterford’s Billy Nolan with Michael O’Halloran of Cork. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Nerve-jangling title-deciders

Poor Vincent Kompany’s face is distraught in this pic.

Vincent Kompany watches helplessly as John Stones clears against his own ‘keeper. Source: Martin Rickett

Stones miraculously recovers and somehow clears the ball through Mo Salah’s legs. Source: Dave Thompson

The Magic of the Cup

Spurs fans enjoyed their Friday night in Tranmere. Source: Mike Egerton

Giant leaps

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Terrance Ferguson flies at the Lakers’ Josh Hart. Source: Jae C. Hong


Giants among men

Keith Earls takes the field against Leinster. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Directing from the sidelines

Instructions fly on from three coaches in Manchester United’s win over Newcastle. Source: Owen Humphreys

And finding light where you can.

James Davies runs out for Scarlets clash with Cardiff Blues last week. Source: Alex Davidson/INPHO

New Year, same James Harden

Harden beats the buzzer with a game-winning overtime three against the Golden State Warriors. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images


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CORK CONSTITUTION CENTRE Niall Kenneally will captain the Ireland Club team in the first of two games against their Scottish counterparts in Edinburgh on Friday night [KO 7.30pm].

Kenneally is one of nine players retained from last year, as head coach Morgan Lennon blends experience with seven debutants in his starting XV for the Myerside Stadium clash. 

Starting alongside Kenneally in midfield is Clontarf’s Matt D’Arcy, who is set for a record eighth start for the Ireland Club team.

Jack Keating will make his debut on the left wing while Lansdowne’s Dan McEvoy and Eamonn Mills complete the back three.

Garryowen hooker Liam Cronin will make his first start in the pack with the experience of Lansdowne’s Ian Prendiville and Old Wesley’s Cronan Gleeson either side of him.

There is a new second row pairing with Brian Hayes and Conor Kindregan named in the engine room, as two of six players from Division 1A leaders Cork Con. 

Terenure College’s Michael Melia –man of the match against Scotland in Dublin last year — switches from the second row to the back row for this game where he packs down with Joe McSwiney and debutant Luke Cahill. 

Morgan Lennon and Johne Murphy. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tom O’Reilly and Michael Noone are the experienced forwards among the five on the bench while Alan Bennie, Callum Smith and Michael Brown will be hoping to make their debuts if called upon by Lennon and assistant coach Johne Murphy.

The sides will meet again at Donnybrook in the return fixture on Friday 8 February, with the Dalriada Cup going to the side with the higher aggregate score in the two-game series.

Ireland Club XV:

15. Eamon Mills (Lansdowne)
14. Dan McEvoy (Lansdowne)
13. Niall Kenneally (Cork Constitution)(captain)
12. Matt D’Arcy (Clontarf)
11. Jack Keating (Old Belvedere)
10. Aidan Moynihan (Cork Constitution)
9. John Poland (UCC)

1. Cronan Gleeson (Old Wesley)
2. Liam Cronin (Garryowen)
3. Ian Prenderville (Lansdowne)
4. Brian Hayes (Cork Constitution)
5. Conor Kindregan (Cork Constitution)
6. Michael Melia (Terenure College)
7. Joe McSwiney (Cork Constitution)
8. Luke Cahill (Cork Constitution).


16. John Sutton (Buccaneers)
17. Tom O’Reilly (St Mary’s College)
18. Andrew Keating (Garryowen)
19. Jack O’Sullivan (Lansdowne)
20. Michael Noone (Clontarf)
21. Alan Bennie (Lansdowne)
22. Callum Smith (Malone)
23. Michael Brown (Clontarf). 

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WHEN YOU CONSIDER Tom Farrell’s consistently excellent and standout form in the green of Connacht in isolation, few would quibble with his inclusion in Ireland’s Six Nations squad to be named by Joe Schmidt later today.

He would be fully deserving of the opportunity.

But the return to fitness of Chris Farrell at Munster and the anticipated comeback of Robbie Henshaw means Ireland’s centre stocks have never been as well resourced, nor have the midfield ranks been more competitive.

Farrell at Connacht training yesterday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

History shows us that there is precious little room for experimentation during the Six Nations window, not least in this year of all years, as Schmidt’s policy is to generally stick with the tried and trusted, while keeping the number of uncapped players as low as possible.

For example, Jordan Larmour was the only new face in last year’s pre-tournament Six Nations squad selected by the Kiwi, and while a panel of up to 38 players certainly allows scope for a couple to be included this time around, this squad is becoming an increasingly hard one to break into.

It appeared Farrell’s chances of inclusion had increased when Henshaw’s fitness for the opening rounds of Ireland’s Grand Slam defence was cast into doubt, further too when there was huge concern for Chris Farrell after he picked up a knee injury in the inter-pro against Connacht in Galway.

But Leinster delivered a positive update on Henshaw’s fitness last week and his remarkable healing powers could see him return from a hamstring problem ahead of schedule and in time for England on 2 February, while Farrell was, thankfully, given the all-clear after a scan. He started and stood out against Gloucester last weekend. 

On the assumption that Bundee Aki will be joined in the squad by Garry Ringrose, Chris Farrell and Henshaw, there is unlikely to be a position for Tom Farrell in the Carton House party, even if Schmidt does opt to include a fifth centre. 

Stuart McCloskey, back in the fold last November, newly-capped Sam Arnold and Rory Scannell are all potentially ahead of Farrell in the midfield pecking order, while Will Addison’s versatility offers an alternative option, after the Ulster back started the Autumn Test win over Argentina at 13 beside Aki and then at fullback against USA a week later. 

Farrell, however, is certainly in Schmidt’s thoughts and his form for Connacht — both at inside and outside centre — this term has not gone unnoticed. The 25-year-old was called into the squad ahead of the All Blacks Test and took part in a two-day minicamp over Christmas.

As of yesterday morning, he had not heard from Schmidt or any of the Ireland coaching staff but remains hopeful of receiving the call ahead of this afternoon’s squad announcement, expected sometime after 3pm. He would be a wholly merited inclusion. 

“It is at the back of my head, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” he says. “I’ve been in camps in November for a short stint and I’ve been in for a two-day camp over Christmas as well and it has given me that taste for it. I really enjoyed my time and I’m hoping to be involved again.”

Whether or not the call comes later, Farrell is happy with how he has performed for the western province this term, following up his outstanding year last season in a team that struggled under previous head coach Kieran Keane.

The 25-year-old has been in excellent form. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The Dublin native started all three of the Pro14 inter-pros over the Christmas period and excelled against Munster, in particular, demonstrating his brilliant footwork and ball-carrying ability, while also scoring a superb breakaway score after ripping Arno Botha — no mean feat — of possession. 

If the case for inclusion wasn’t already strong, he provided more persuasive evidence in an all-action display at the Sportsground, the type of which he has been producing consistently now for the last two seasons. 

“To be honest, I probably am happy with my personal performances,” Farrell continues.

“And that kind of comes from the team performances, and how we’re playing as a team. I know we’re not the finished article or anything but we are improving, we’re on a steady upward curve. It does help my game and the rest of the backs as well when we’re playing that positive, expansive game.

“That is obviously in the back of my mind, to get capped by Ireland. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. Most players in the country want to be in that position. It is in the back of my mind, and is something I am striving for.”

Farrell explains that his brief stints with the Ireland squad in recent months have been eye-opening and allowed him to learn a lot in preparation for a full call-up should it come in the near future. 

“You do pick up things, probably the thing I noticed the most was the speed of it [training] and the intensity. Just everything on the pitch is so fast and you have to be on the ball all the time. I noticed when I came back [to Connacht] and I felt I could try and up the intensity here and the speed of the whole game. 

“I tried to literally soak up as much as the calls and plays as I could. I didn’t try and get bogged down with the starter plays or anything like that, it was just more so the general phase play and defence calls. Just try and take in as much as possible and grab guys to sit down if they had a minute.”

Either way, Farrell’s career has taken off since his arrival at Connacht a little over two years ago after he was recruited by Pat Lam on a short-term deal to provide cover during a midfield injury crisis in Galway.

Farrell pictured in Galway yesterday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Farrell had been plying his trade in the English Championship with the Bedford Blues when the opportunity to return home arose, and he smiles when reflecting on how far he has come since then. 

“When I went over to the Championship, I went over with the aim of one day coming back to play rugby in Ireland and obviously when I was there, playing for Ireland was probably the last thing on my mind,” he added.

“My main focus then was to just keep playing as many games as I could and get that recognition to come back to one of the provinces. Luckily enough Connacht were good enough to take me on board.

“To be honest, I’d like to think I am ready [for international rugby] but it’s up to the coaches now to decide. I’ve played with and against international players for the last two seasons.

“I’d like to think I’m ready for the next step up but I have to respect their decision also and if they don’t feel I’m ready that’s fair and I’ll just go away and work on what needs to be worked on.  

“My goals are still the same, I haven’t had to change anything, and we’ll see in the next few weeks, hopefully they might be achieved.”

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