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Mary Hannigan: Rory the Sacrificial Lamb faces up to the cold, hard logic of Saudi money

No 11th-hour reprieve for London Irish; and Irish sport loses a trailblazing superstar in Teddy McCarthy

Having been one of the most vocal critics of LIV Golf since the Saudi Arabian-backed tour arrived on the scene, Rory McIlroy admitted on Wednesday that he felt like a “sacrificial lamb” on hearing of the PGA Tour’s decision to partner with its erstwhile nemesis.

Philip Reid reports on McIlroy’s press conference at the Canadian Open where he sounded a note of resignation. “I still hate LIV ... I hope it goes away, [but] honestly, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that this is going to happen. It’s very hard to keep up with people that have more money than anyone else.”

This, writes Sean Ingle, was “a statement of cold, hard logic”, there simply being no way of stopping Saudi Arabia’s ever-increasing stake in sport. “In other words,” he concludes, “sportswashing works.”

Naturally enough, Bryson DeChambeau, one of the first big names to sign up for LIV Golf, has a different take on it all. The Saudis, he told CNN, are “trying to do good for the world ... trying to mend the world and make it a better place”. He said it with a straight face, too.


If you’re confused about the whole business, David Gorman has an explainer which will walk you through it.

London Irish could do with some Saudi money these days. There was, writes John O’Sullivan, no 11th-hour reprieve for the 125-year-old club after a mooted takeover failed to materialise, “leaving it to succumb to its financial difficulties”.

In Gaelic games, Gordon Manning pays tribute to Teddy McCarthy after his death at the age of 58 on Tuesday. “Irish sport lost a genuine trailblazing superstar,” he writes of the first man to win All-Ireland senior medals in hurling and football in the same year.

And Ciarán Murphy tells us about a new book by his uncle Jim Carney on two more Gaelic games greats, Seán Purcell and Frank Stockwell, team-mates with Tuam Stars and Galway in the 1950s.

In soccer, Gavin Cummiskey hears from Republic of Ireland midfielder Will Smallbone ahead of next week’s crucial Euro 2024 qualifier in Greece, while in his America At Large column, Dave Hannigan wonders how on earth the Belmont Stakes is going ahead on Saturday.

Four horses have died at its Belmont Park venue in the past three weeks alone, taking the death toll there to 16 for the calendar year. “Never mind the death toll,” he writes, “feel the wins.”

Telly watch: It’s semi-final day in the women’s singles at the French Open, with Aryna Sabalenka playing Karolina Muchova around 2pm, followed by the meeting of Iga Swiatek and Beatriz Haddad Maia (Eurosport). And later in the day, Sky Sports Golf has coverage of the Canadian Open (5.0-11.0) where Rory McIlroy is going for a three-in-a-row. After the week he’s had, you’d guess he’ll be relieved just to be out on the course.