Jason Smyth reaches the finishing line of a truly remarkable career

The Morning Sports Briefing: keep ahead of the game as Mary Hannigan brings you all the main sports news

Tuesday brought the announcement of the retirement of one of Ireland’s greatest ever athletes, Jason Smyth calling a day on a remarkable career that saw the six-time Paralympic gold medal winner compete for 15 years without ever being beaten. Johnny Watterson doffs his cap to the Derry man, and looks back on his story.

In his America At Large column, Dave Hannigan tells us about ‘the most hated man in the NBA’, the Memphis Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks. Or “Villain Brooks”, as he was once described during his college days, a reputation he has carried in to basketball’s professional ranks. This season alone, he’s already picked up $250,000 in fines for an array of offences. Brooks, Dave writes, is “a master of the dark arts and trash-talker supreme”.

In Gaelic Games, Gordon Manning hears from Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor ahead of Sunday’s Division One football final against Galway, the county’s all-time top scorer dismissing any notion that the importance of the game is diminished by the start of the championship the following weekend.

Ciaran Murphy, though, argues that there shouldn’t be any league finals at all, that the competition should be decided by the last round of fixtures in the league itself. He points to Mayo fielding a weakened team last weekend, because they were already assured of their place in the final, and ending up losing to Monaghan – who escaped relegation. “The integrity of the competition,” Ciaran writes, “shouldn’t be quite so easily manipulated.”


In rugby, Gerry Thornley talks to Leinster’s James Ryan ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup meeting with Ulster, Ryan reflecting on winning the second Grand Slam of his career. He appreciated this one much more than that 2018 success, though. “I understand now how hard it is to get to that point and how much effort it takes to get you there,” he says. “I don’t think I’d the same understanding or appreciation as a 21-year-old.”

And Daire Walsh hears from the Irish women’s camp ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations meeting with France at Musgrave Park, backrow Hannah O’Connor insisting that the team is not approaching the game as a damage limitation exercise, despite it having the look of a daunting challenge.

Telly choice: We’re struggling here, unless the rugby league clash of Leigh Leopards and Wigan Warriors floats your boat (Sky Sports Arena, 8.0). A better offering, though, is the women’s Champions League second leg quarter-final fare offered by DAZN’s YouTube channel – Wolfsburg (1) v PSG (0) (kick-off 5.45) and Chelsea (1) v Lyon (0) (kick-off 8.0).

Keep an eye on: Updates from Arsenal on the injury Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe sustained in the closing moments of their Champions League win over Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. McCabe, who was – very worryingly – seen wearing a protective boot and using crutches after the game, is having a scan on her ankle today.