Welcome to the new revamped all-singing, all-dancing* Irish Times Morning Sports Briefing, now authored by Mary Hannigan. Allow Mary to cherrypick the very best of our sports coverage and serve it up to you on a silver platter, along with the best TV sport of the day, and a news story worth keeping an eye on. In short, it’s the perfect way to stay up with what’s important and interesting in the sports world, without actually having to try too hard.
*Disclaimer: may not actually feature singing and dancing
By now, Katie Taylor must be beginning to wonder if she’ll ever get to fight on home turf as a professional after it was announced on Tuesday that her planned rematch with Amanda Serrano at the 3Arena on May 20 had been called off, supposedly because of an injury sustained by the Puerto Rican.
Johnny Watterson takes us through the options now for the world champion, with no shortage of opponents willing to take Serrano’s place for that May bout. And then there’s the intriguing possibility of Taylor getting to fight in Croke Park after all, with talk in the air of her promoters hoping to reschedule the Serrano fight for GAA HQ in September.
In athletics, meanwhile, Ian O’Riordan previews the European Indoor Championships which get under way in Istanbul on Thursday afternoon, Ireland sending a team of fifteen. All eyes, though, will be on the marvel that is Jakob Ingebrigtsen who, at just 22, will be aiming for another 1,500m/3,000m double to add to an already bewildering medal collection.
On the rugby front, Gordon D’Arcy reflects on Ireland’s performance in Rome last Saturday and while he says that they “looked like a team missing some key players”, upon whom they remain reliant, he argues that “the coaching environment and the way the players are thriving within it” has resulted in Ireland being able to cope with such losses far better than they did in the past.
He also salutes the quality of Ireland’s bench for that game, describing the impact of Ryan Baird, Conor Murray and Jimmy O’Brien as “immense” when they came on. Murray, he says, looks rejuvenated in recent games and possessed “the big-match savvy to manage affairs in the way Ireland required”.
Gerry Thornley takes a closer look at Baird’s performance in Rome, talking to the Leinster man about his determination to make up for lost time having had limited opportunities since making his debut in the same stadium two years ago.
And just over a month away from the start of the football championship, Sean Moran asks “are we all getting too excited about the league?”. While he doesn’t underestimate the “imputed terrors of Sam Maguire exile”, with counties scrambling to avoid the “Tailteann trapdoor”, he reminds us that it’s more than 20 years since a team from outside Division One laid hands on Sam Maguire. There has to be more to a decent season, he argues, “than All-Ireland finals or how would the vast majority of counties sustain or justify themselves?”
Telly choice: With the Carabao Cup already in the cabinet, Manchester United resume their FA Cup campaign, West Ham their fifth round visitors at Old Trafford (UTV and Premier Sports 1, kick-off 7.45). The tie between Sheffield Utd and Spurs will be live on BBC1 (kick-off 7.55).
Keep an eye on: The Cricket Discipline Commission hearing which begins today in London where a panel will hear disciplinary proceedings brought against Yorkshire and seven individuals – including former England captain Michael Vaughan – who have all been charged with bringing the game into disrepute following allegations of racism by former Yorkshire spin bowler Azeem Rafiq.
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