For those of us who feel like it’s only a wet week since the flame was extinguished at the Tokyo Olympics, it comes as a bit of surprise to learn that the Paris Games are only 465 days away. But after reading Ian O’Riordan’s look at five of our medal prospects, they can’t come soon enough.
Ian reflects on the highly successful weekends enjoyed by Rhys McClenaghan (gymnastics), Rhasidat Adeleke (athletics), Daniel Wiffen (swimming), Thammy Nguyen (weightlifting) and Ben Healy (cycling), their Parisienne potential enough to have you polishing a fleet of open-top buses.
Monaghan, Clare, Roscommon and New York won’t be planning All Ireland victory parades just yet, but as Malachy Clerkin tells us, they’ve all sent their supporters home humming with “results that lit a fire under the championship”. But with all their inherent structural flaws, he reckons counties will soon enough decide that the provincial championships aren’t worth the hassle because “the consequences for winning and losing aren’t so different from each other”.
Jim McGuinness, meanwhile, writes about the hassle Tyrone suffered at the hands of Monaghan at the weekend and is yet to be convinced that they can return to their 2021 All-Ireland winning levels.
In hurling, though, there’s a notion that it’ll be a few years yet before Limerick lose an All Ireland, Paul Keane telling us that the widely held notion is that “John Kiely’s crew look damn near unbeatable”. “Nonsense,” argues Gearoid Hegarty, “sport changes very, very quickly,” he says, pointing to Liverpool’s “drop-off” this season. (Not that Leeds noticed on Monday night).
Despite leaving most of their frontliners back in Dublin, Leinster’s winning streak experienced no drop-off when they beat the Lions in Johannesburg last Saturday. Gerry Thornley talks to Seán O’Brien ahead of next Saturday’s meeting with the Bulls in Pretoria, the Tullow Tank taking on the role of stand-in head coach following Leo Cullen’s return home to help prepare those frontliners for the Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse.
Gerry also writes about the season Connacht are enjoying in the URC, no team punching above its weight more in the competition, he says, while Owen Doyle uses his Whistleblower column to take a look at World Rugby’s plans to move to a different yellow and red card foul play system for the fast approaching World Cup.
Telly watch: Champions League devotees have a tricky choice tonight: you can either watch Chelsea attempt to recover from their 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their quarter-final against Real Madrid (RTE 2 and BT Sport 1, kick-off 8.0), buoyed by co-owner Todd Boehly telling them at the weekend that their season thus far has been “embarrassing”, or Napoli try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit when they take on AC Milan on home turf (BT Sport 2, kickoff 8.0).