This time around, Ireland’s World Cup year has not begun in disastrous fashion. In 2019, the Six Nations opened with England’s ambush of Dublin. In Cardiff on Saturday, Andy Farrell’s side withstood two late injury changes to blow Wales out of the water in the opening quarter. According to Gerry Thornley in his column, this stems from Farrell’s desire to avoid being bogged down by external factors: “Joe Schmidt left a huge legacy, but dealing with “uncontrollables” such as leaked team selections, late withdrawals or, dare one say it, delayed arrivals by bus to the stadium, wasn’t one of his more obvious fortes. By contrast, Farrell seems to have an almost masochistic desire to embrace them.” Of course, such ability to work past unforeseen factors will need to be shown again this weekend, with Jamison Gibson-Park, Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy all ruled out of the France clash.
In his usual column reviewing the performance of the officials, Owen Doyle takes issue with TMO Tom Foley’s role in Saturday’s contest: “How a referee can trust his TMO to make a crucial decision without checking for himself is beyond me. It’s hard to believe that is what is intended by the powers that be.”
“He has to be given huge credit because the way the breeze was blowing across it was a slightly trickier kick than it looked. It was very important too because, even though it was a draw, the game had gone so far away from us, it’s worth more than a draw, if you get me.” Kieran Donaghy was full of praise for Rian O’Neill following his equaliser that earned Armagh a draw with Mayo over the weekend. You can read the Armagh coach’s full reaction to the result here. In hurling, Saturday was the first time since 1998 Kilkenny played a league match without Brian Cody in charge. It was also the first time the Cats played in Corrigan Park for 80 years. Seán Moran takes a look at the history of that famous All-Ireland semi-final.
Justin Rose has ended his four-year wait for a win on the PGA Tour. A final-round 66 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am saw the Englishman home by a three-stroke margin. Now that he has arrested that winning skid, Rose has set his sight’s on making Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup squad: “What was really important to me was getting off to a good start on the PGA Tour so I wasn’t under pressure later in the season, so I could turn my attentions to the Ryder Cup and the European Tour.”