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Rory roars back to run Scheffler close; Liverpool-City a proper rivalry

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

We just can't quit on Rory McIlroy, can we? Performances like the scintillating round we saw from him on Sunday are exactly why. An incredible final effort of 64, including a chip in from the bunker on 18, gave the Northern Irishman a second place finish behind eventual winner Scottie Scheffler, offering a glimmer of optimism for Irish hopes when it seemed like the challenges from McIlroy and Lowry had faded. Still, the usual questions about McIlroy's ability to do it consistently across four days at Augusta will be asked, but you nonetheless have to tip your hat to him after yesterday alone. Apart from Scheffler, who was obviously even better over the last four days, the story of the Masters undoubtedly remains Tiger Woods. He was warmly received by the Augusta faithful despite back-to-back rounds of 78; just the act of completing four rounds was a monumental achievement after the year he's had.

On this side of the pond (sort of), Sunday also saw an enthralling draw between Liverpool and Manchester City that leaves the title race exactly as it was at the beginning of the weekend - City are one point ahead. Ken Early's column looks at the question of is this the best rivalry in the history of English football? He compares it to the days of Ferguson and Arsene Wenger languishing in the Old Trafford stand. Put simply, City vs Liverpool is actually focused on the substance of the game and could never have the reckless off-field shenanigans of United vs Arsenal in the noughties: "In truth, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp would seem ridiculous if they ever got involved in some kind of macho confrontation." In terms of the football itself, Guardiola is frustrated that the draw gave Liverpool a lifeline with seven games to go in the title race.

Ireland are finally off the board in this Six Nations after Greg McWilliams' side earned a much-needed victory over Italy. It was a performance that should settle some nerves and ensure that this rebuilding group has something positive to cling to as the transition to a younger squad that offers more with ball in hand continues. In Champions Cup action, there's plenty of reaction this morning, with Johann van Graan insisting that Munster will "stand up and fight" when they look to overturn a five point deficit to Exeter next week, while Dan McFarland refuses to be drawn into a conversation around should Ulster have been more ruthless and taken a bigger lead back to Belfast?

Plenty of other results and reports are available. Meath have added the Division One football crown to their All-Ireland from last year, leaving them with little remaining that they haven't won. In cycling, Sam Bennett lacked the climbing sharpness needed in the closing kilometres of Sunday's opening stage of the Tour of Turkey, while in athletics, Stephen Scullion missed out on the chance to set a new Irish marathon record because his shoes didn't fit him properly.