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Mary Hannigan: Keenan feels the injury blues

Ireland lose for the first time under Eileen Gleeson; Dublin seek to break hoodoo on Derry’s turf

After being ruled out of last weekend’s Six Nations meeting with Italy, Hugo Keenan took advantage of a rare enough weekend off to head to London to watch his beloved Chelsea in the League Cup final. How did that go? Not great. “God, we were pretty useless in extra-time,” he tells Johnny Watterson, “bit of a tough watch.” And to top it all, he was stuck in the Liverpool end, “immersed in a sea of red”, so “I had to hold back some of the emotions”. While his fellow Chelsea devotees left the stadium, he had to stand there watching the Liverpool celebrations for 45 minutes. Come the end of it, Keenan possibly never wanted another weekend off again. He’s hoping to be fit in time for the trip to Twickenham where Ireland will need to up their game after an “off-kilter” display against Italy, but, writes Gordon D’Arcy, “a little self-reflection when performance drops slightly, with no real net consequence, is not the worst outcome” ahead of that game against England.

Gavin Cummiskey, meanwhile, was in Tallaght on Tuesday evening to see an off-kilter performance by Ireland in their 2-0 friendly defeat by Wales. “It took eight games to burst the Eileen Gleeson balloon,” he writes, this her first defeat in eight games since she took over from Vera Pauw. “We killed ourselves,” she said after, “the only thing we can take from it is that we were nowhere near where we can be.”

In Gaelic games, Gordon Manning looks ahead to the League meeting of high-flying Derry and Dublin on Saturday, the Dubs not enjoying a great deal of success down the years in previous tussles between the counties on Derry turf. Seán Moran previews tomorrow night’s Laochra Gael episode which focusses on the life and times of Laois’s lone hurling All Star, Pat Critchley. An emotional one it is too, Critchley’s life touched by tragedy along the way.

And Ian O’Riordan talks to Victoria Catterson, the 22-year-old swimmer from Belfast who is part of the first Irish women’s relay team to qualify for the Olympic Games since 1972.


TV Watch: If you’re an FA Cup devotee, you have a tricky night ahead - do you watch Chelsea v Leeds (ITV4 and Premier Sports 2, 7.30), Nottingham Forest v Manchester United (BBC 1, 7.45), Wolves v Brighton (if you know how to access the BBC red button, 7.45) or Liverpool v Southampton (UTV and Premier Sports 1, 8.0)?

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