All eyes on Evan Ferguson, a ‘gift from the football gods’

Sports Briefing: Young striker to make first start, Gordon D’Arcy on Grand Slam campaign

There’s a big six days ahead for Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny whose team play Latvia in Dublin this evening in a friendly ahead of opening their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign against - gulp - France next Monday.

Kenny’s reign, since being appointed to the job three years ago, has, to put it mildly, been a rocky one, but, as Gavin Cummiskey writes, he’s been granted “a gift from the football gods” in the shape of the form of Evan Ferguson.

The 18-year-old striker, who has seven goals in 16 appearances for Brighton this season, will become the second youngest player - behind Robbie Keane - to start a competitive game for Ireland, having been named in tonight’s line-up. Gavin also hears from the manager and Matt Doherty who will captain his country for the first time tonight.

On the rugby front, Gordon D’Arcy reflects on Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning campaign, while John O’Sullivan examines Mack Hansen’s contribution to their success. And we also look ahead to the start of the women’s Six Nations, Ireland traveling to Cardiff to take on Wales on Saturday in their opening game.


In Gaelic Games, Sean Moran reckons the All-Ireland football championship, which starts in just over a fortnight, will be the most open this century, with at least six counties capable of winning it, while Gordon Manning talks to Meath captain Shauna Ennis about her county’s prospects, after a disappointing League campaign, of making it a three-in-a-row.

Gordon also has a chat with Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes, the 2022 Hurler of the Year, who will be on League semi-final duty for his county on Saturday, before they turn their attention to making it four All-Irelands in a row.

And in boxing, Johnny Watterson takes a look at the impact Katie Taylor’s May fight against Chantelle Cameron in Dublin might have on the sport here, with few professional shows having taken place in the city since the fatal shooting in the Regency Hotel back in 2016.

Telly choice: The Republic of Ireland (and Evan Ferguson) kick-start (hopefully) their 2023 with a friendly against Latvia tonight (RTE 2, kick-off 7.45).

Keep an eye on: The clock - you have until 9.0 tonight to submit your bid to buy Manchester United. Be advised, though, that you could be up against as many as eight other bidders, including Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim, and you’ll probably need to offer at least £5 billion to have a chance of owning the club (and Harry Maguire).