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Questions will linger for Leinster over final loss

Will Leinster suffer some mental scarring? Will Henry Shefflin be around for the Galway rebuild? Where is the ceiling on this Donegal team?


The Leinster camp will be a tough place to be this week, “the sense of missed chances gone a-begging will be acute,” writes Gerry Thornley in the aftermath of their Champions Cup final defeat. In many ways, he reckons, “this wasn’t the worst of Leinster’s three successive final defeats”, but their players “wouldn’t be human if they didn’t have deeper mental scars”. They’ll also be left to “ruefully reflect on the calls or moments that went against them”, Owen Doyle analysing some of those decisions in his Whistleblower column. “It is an enormous achievement to reach three consecutive finals, but to lose each of them is the stuff of sporting nightmares,” he writes. But were Leinster hard done by? Too many question marks appeared in his notes he says of referee Matt Carley’s “mixed performance”, not least over that yellow card for James Lowe, but he concedes that “as cruel as the outcome was, the better performance carried the day”.

Donegal carried the day in Ballybofey last Saturday when Tyrone came to town, Michael Murphy now seeing a team that is “brimming with confidence” and possessing a “belief and a level of conditioning” that he didn’t expect them to reach for another year. This is a team that has “genuine and complete belief and clarity about where they were going”.

The same can’t be said for Galway’s hurlers after their exit from the Championship last Sunday, Denis Walsh finding it hard to see Henry Shefflin staying on as manager and kickstarting the rebuilding job that is now required.

In golf, Philip Reid writes about the tragic passing of Grayson Murray, the 30-year-old American player who died by suicide last weekend. The PGA Tour rumbles on, but perhaps with a greater perspective “of how golf is golf, sport is sport, and that other things are far more important”.

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In soccer, Gavin Cummiskey reports on Damien Duff urging John O’Shea to turn down the Irish job if he’s offered it on a permanent basis. “They have left him out to dry. He is just hanging around - ‘am I getting it, am I not?’”

We also hear from Leanne Kiernan ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2025 qualifying games at home and away to Sweden, the Cavan striker almost as excited about those challenges as she is about her cow Rosie becoming a mother in July.

And in racing Brian O’Connor looks at Aidan O’Brien’s chances of pulling off an historic classic hat-trick – there’s the Oaks at Epsom on Friday, the Derby the following day and its French equivalent 24 hours later at Chantilly.

TV Watch: It’s day three at the French tennis Open (Eurosport, 9.30am-10.30pm), Monday having seen the exit of both Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in straight sets, father time catching up on the pair.