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Sungjae Im leads as Tiger Woods impresses; Mack Hansen staying cool

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

Sungjae Im may lead the Masters after carding a five under 67, but much of the attention is focused on Tiger Woods after round one. Just over a year after a car crash that saw the 2019 green jacket winner suffer devastating leg injuries, the crowd favourite at Augusta received a standing ovation up the 18th as he completed a remarkable comeback to finish on one under. Still, Im deserves his moment in the sun as well as he takes a one shot lead over Australia's Cameron Smith into day two. As for the Irish, Rory McIlroy was one under until the 14th but a bogey there as well as at 16 saw his latest quest for a green jacket get off to a tricky start with a round of one over. Shane Lowry joins him there with Séamus Power and Pádraig Harrington one shot further back on two over.

Closer to home, tonight of course sees the highly-anticipated European clash between Connacht and Leinster in Galway. You would think that Connacht might be feeling some nerves ahead of the first knockout Champions Cup appearance in their history, but Mack Hansen feels differently. As far as he sees it, the favourites tag puts all the pressure on the travelling Leinster. Remember that the provincial rivals did meet in domestic action a few weeks ago, where a frenetic opening saw Connacht's Tom Daly red carded. Andy Friend is expecting more drama: "It was pretty frenetic at the start of the game a couple of weeks ago so I think it will be something similar. It's just who can keep control of the game. That will be the big thing, making sure that we're nice and calm and collected under the pressure that Connacht will bring to the game."

There's a big crunch match in the League of Ireland this evening, and for once it's not because of one of the many Dublin derbies. No, tonight of course sees the return of Stephen O'Donnell to Richmond Park with his Dundalk outfit just months after controversially departing the Dublin club. St Pat's wanted O'Donnell to stay, so you can imagine both how happy they were with the decision and what sort of reception he'll be greeted with while wearing Dundalk colours. In European action, West Ham were rescued by Jarrod Bowen as they secured a draw against Lyon, while Rangers lost their first leg on the road to Braga last night.

Throw a quilt on Belfast and it covers an Olympic medallist. Certainly in boxing anyway, and it was all started by John McNally who won silver in Helsinki 1952. A long line of Northern Irish boxers followed McNally in securing Olympic hardware, including Paddy Barnes and most recently Aidan Walsh, but the first of them all sadly died earlier this week. Johnny Watterson pays tribute to McNally in his column today. Speaking of Irish silverware, down in Australia, Ailish Considine and Sinead Goldrick square off in the AFLW Grand Final tomorrow morning, with Considine and the Adelaide Crows seeking their second title in four years.