Latvia sorted, and just the French up next - what could go wrong?

The Morning Sports Briefing: Evan-sent Ferguson; turmoil in Donegal; and swapping the mic for a Bainisteoir bib

It didn’t quite go without a hitch, but after surrendering a two-goal lead in last night’s friendly against Latvia, the Republic of Ireland at least warmed up for the start of their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 3-2 win. As Gavin Cummiskey writes, “France and Kylian Mbappé next, what could possibly go wrong?”

Ken Early brings us his take on a game that saw Evan Ferguson score in his first start for his country, the 18-year-old’s potential leaving us “daydreaming about how much better the young striker might get”. And Gordon Manning rates the performances of the players, midfielder Will Smallbone’s man-of-the-match display giving Stephen Kenny food for thought ahead of picking his team for that tussle with the French next Monday.

Gordon also brings us news of yet more turmoil in Donegal GAA, with football manager Paddy Carr resigning after just eight games in charge, while Ciaran Murphy writes about the challenges of switching from punditry to management, citing the examples of Mayo’s Kevin McStay and Meath’s Colm O’Rourke since they both hung up their RTÉ mics. Joanne O’Riordan, meanwhile, looks at the impact on “the old and vulnerable” of the GAA’s policy of cashless tickets.

In her column, Sonia O’Sullivan picks out the traits and qualities required to be a great coach, in any sporting code, while Philip Reid tells us how Rory McIlroy is getting on with his new putter and driver. John O’Sullivan previews the Johnny Sexton-less Leinster’s United Rugby Championship meeting with the Stormers at the RDS tomorrow, and we also talk to Ireland’s Molly Scuffil-McCabe ahead of the start of the women’s Six Nations.


And Dave Hannigan uses his America At Large column to tell us about Joe Tacopina, “the most hated lawyer in America”, who has a lot on his plate this weather – the Italian club he owns, SPAL, are in danger of being relegated from Serie B, and one of his clients, Donald Trump, is in danger of going to jail. Not your average Joe, that man.

Telly choice: Virgin Media Two have a decidedly tasty Euro 2024 Qualifier tonight in the shape of Italy v England (kick-off 7.45).

Keep an eye on: Leona Maguire – a year ago she became the first Irish player to triumph on the LPGA tour when she won the Drive On tournament. She begins the defence of that title in Arizona today.