Excuse us while we tempt fate with some loose talk about Scotland...

Owen Doyle on the red card conundrum; Denis Walsh on the league being good now; Philip Reid on Rory McIlroy’s perfect timing

The countdown to Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Scotland next Sunday continues apace, with Gerry Thornley wondering if it would feel a little anti-climactic if Ireland sealed the title at Murrayfield, rather than against England a week later – when, of course, a grand slam would also be up for grabs.

Before he can be accused of fate-tempting, though, he points out that beating Scotland isn’t “remotely like a fait accompli”, this being their best side of the 24-year Six Nations era. And he reminds us, in a second piece, of some of Ireland’s less comfortable trips to Edinburgh in recent years (featuring Devin Toner’s frustration with a slow-moving bagpiper).

Owen Doyle, meanwhile, takes a look at the divergent views between the southern and northern hemispheres on how dangerous play in rugby should be handled, the latter not impressed by the former’s preference for replacing a red-carded player after 20 minutes.

In Gaelic games, Denis Walsh reckons that for the first time ever, “some league games now command the same importance as a championship match”, especially by counties “dicing with the Tailteann Cup”.


In golf, Philip Reid checks out Rory McIlroy’s form as he heads to Florida for this week’s Players Championship (the “fifth major”). His runner-up finish at last weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational suggests he’s in fine fettle.

And in soccer, Barney Ronay rakes over the ashes of Manchester United’s hiccup at Anfield on Sunday, after which this startling stat emerged: “Since joining Liverpool (2017), Mo Salah has more yellow cards from celebrating goals against Man United at Anfield (two) than Man United have goals at Anfield (one).”

Telly choice: It’s Champions League time again with Graham Potter in desperate need of a good night at Stamford Bridge when his expensively-assembled but malfunctioning Chelsea try to overcome a 1-0 deficit when they take on Borussia Dortmund (RTÉ 2 and BT Sport 1, kick-off 8pm).

Keep an eye on: The ever-mounting pressure on Fifa to ditch their gobsmacking plans to make Saudi Arabia’s tourism wing “Visit Saudi” a key sponsor of the women’s World Cup. Such has been the reaction, there’s a notion Fifa will reverse that plan, a little like that gif of Homer Simpson reversing in to a hedge.

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