TV3 Six Nations Launch: Ronan O’Gara – The Irish Examiner – December 9 2017

O’Gara vouches for value of being a ’one-club man’

Ronan O’Gara hopes that Ireland’s top players can see the value in ending their careers as a ‘one-club man’.

Following in the footsteps of Donnacha Ryan (who recently made his debut for O’Gara’s present employers, Racing 92), Simon Zebo announced in October that he would be leaving Munster at the end of the season for a stint in France’s Top 14.

There has also been speculation about a potential move abroad for Peter O’Mahony, and although he places great importance on the lasting reputation of a player, O’Gara also accepts that the landscape of the game is changing all the time.

“You can’t put a value on your reputation, because when you finish playing you still have a huge reputation. You only have one reputation that stays with you after your playing days. Top players in this country, I hope they realise how great it is to be playing as a one-club man,” O’Gara remarked at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

“I think there is something extremely special about that, but I understand the environment and the finances and everything is changing. But, sometimes far away hills aren’t always greener. You could all of a sudden strike a cracking deal if you get them on a good day. Every player tests the market, they are all out there looking to get better deals.”

O’Gara was in Dublin for the launch of TV3’s coverage of the NatWest Six Nations, for which he will be working as an analyst from next February.

He had signed with TV3 long before agreeing to become assistant coach of the Crusaders in New Zealand, and while it may lead to a hectic schedule for the Cork native, he is confident of finding the right balance.

“I’ll be moving there [New Zealand] on December 28. I come back then on February 2, and I’ll have a week off agreed with the Crusaders, and that’s it.

The Six Nations is a four-year commitment to them [TV3]. I’ll get two games minimum. There might be a gap week then you might get back. But I’m looking beyond this season for TV3 as well.”

The forthcoming switch to the Crusaders represents a major leap for O’Gara, who openly admits that his current knowledge of Super Rugby is quite minimal.

From his experience of playing and coaching in the northern hemisphere, he believes a lot of emphasis is placed on pressure, and hopes this will give him an advantage during his time in Christchurch.

“I don’t know a lot about Super Rugby. I watch it a lot, but I don’t study it like they do. This side of the world we put a big emphasis on pressure, and I think they might be interested in finding out what pressure is. Hopefully I will have an advantage in that area.

“The one team that did a job on Crusaders was the Lions, and a lot of their principles would be similar to our background in rugby. It’s only when you spend a bit of time with NZ coaches. That might have been our perception, but it certainly wouldn’t be their perception of us. They are always interested in seeing how we see it.”

Ireland’s first game in next year’s Six Nations will be an away assignment against France on February 3. O’Gara expects Joe Schmidt’s side to come through this particular test, but knows from experience that France can be a dangerous proposition on an opening weekend.

“The fascinating thing about the French is that they don’t need a game to change the mood, if you understand me. Every other team needs to find form, but with the French, they can find form from their mood, which is a strange way of saying something.

“You would like to think Ireland will be too disciplined and organised for them. They are so far down the road. It’s that kind of a stadium [Stade de France], where it’s a little bit of the unknown in terms of how measured they are. But with Ireland where they are at the minute, I think it would be a big shock if Ireland weren’t to win,” O’Gara added.

Meanwhile Wales star Sam Warburton will miss the entire Six Nations and is unlikely to play again this season after knee surgery.

Warburton, who has been recovering from a neck operation he had earlier this term, is expected to be sidelined for four to six months, the Welsh Rugby Union said.

He has not played since captaining the British and Irish Lions in the third Test against New Zealand at Auckland’s Eden Park five months ago.

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TV3 Six Nations Launch: Ronan O’Gara (Online) – The Irish Examiner – December 8 2017

Ronan O’Gara: Leicester will try to get at least a losing bonus point against under-pressure Munster

By Daire Walsh

Ronan O’Gara believes the pressure will be on Munster to deliver the goods tomorrow night, when they welcome Leicester Tigers to Thomond Park for their latest encounter in Pool Four of the European Rugby Champions Cup (kick-off 7.45pm).

Speaking at the launch of TV3’s Six Nations coverage at the Aviva Stadium, O’Gara feels there will be an onus on his old side to perform in front of a passionate home crowd, but also believes that Leicester (who currently edge Munster on score difference in the pool standings) will be aiming to return home with at least a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

O’Gara said: “There’s massive excitement for these games. Munster are at home this weekend. They’re two teams where there’s no love lost between them.

“I think there’s deep respect for each other, which is important, but I think at the same Leicester probably feel that they’re better than Munster and Munster feel they’re better Leicester. Irrespective of where they are.

“I think it’s really hard to win back-to-backs. Really, really difficult, but the pressure is kind of on the home team the first time. Then all of sudden, it flips. If you get momentum from it. Leicester deep down would be looking at getting a bonus point.

“That would be their minimum, and anything over that is a bonus. Munster then want to try and win, deprive them of a bonus point and then get the four tries. It’s all different mind games going on,” O’Gara added.

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on TV3 Six Nations Launch: Ronan O’Gara (Online) – The Irish Examiner – December 8 2017

School Sports Star Of The Week: Sergei Runin (St Aidan’s CBS) – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

STAR OF THE WEEK

Sergei Runin (St Aidan’s CBS)

IT proved to be a memorable week for versatile St Aidan’s CBS student Sergei Runin. He followed up his hat-trick for the school’s soccer side in their last-16 Leinster Senior Boys’ Cup encounter against Old Bawn CS with an impressive tally of 1-5 in a Leinster SF ‘A’ group win at the expensive of St Mel’s, Longford in Gaelic football on Tuesday.

He also kicked three points for the latter away to Patrician, Newbridge in the same competition six days earlier, and this helps to make him a very worthy recipient of the weekly award.

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Dublin First Year Hurling Semi-Final: Colaiste Eoin V St Fintan’s HS, Sutton – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

DUBLIN 1ST YEAR HURLING SEMI-FINAL: COLAISTE EOIN 6-13 ST FINTAN’S HS 2-3

Excellent Eoin to face Ardscoil in final showdown

Daire Walsh

COLAISTE Eoin will face Ardscoil Ris in the First Year Schools Hurling Cup decider after they recorded respective semi-final successes against St Fintan’s HS, Sutton and St Benildus College in the past week.

Eoin faced Fintan’s at Silver Park last Thursday afternoon, and with a Dublin Junior ‘A’ hurling title already safely stored away in their trophy cabinet, they were aiming to continue their quest for additional silverware. Luc Breathnach and Oisin O Raghallaigh produced strong displays in the Irish school’s half-back line, while Oisin Mac Anna and Aodhan Inglis also combined effectively in midfield.

Although Fintan’s remained competitive for large spells of the first half, Eoin held a 2-5 to 0-3 cushion at the midway point in the contest. A brace of goals on the resumption brought Fintan’s back into contention, however, and Eoin had to dig deep to halt the momentum of the Sutton school.

Yet, they managed to weather this particular storm, and thanks to some excellent scores from the brilliant Jamie O Conchuir, they registered a convincing 6-13 to 2-3 win at the Tudor Lawns venue. They will head into the upcoming final in confident mood, but following their own penultimate round triumph over Benildus at Alfie Byrne Park on Monday, northsiders Ardscoil are also find their best form at the right time.

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on Dublin First Year Hurling Semi-Final: Colaiste Eoin V St Fintan’s HS, Sutton – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

Leinster Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Group A: St Aidan’s CBS V St Mel’s College – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

LEINSTER SF ‘A’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Aidan’s in outstanding form to make the last eight

Daire Walsh

JOHN Foley, Jordan Leonard and Lee Gannon all helped themselves to a hat-trick of goals during St Aidan’s CBS’ comprehensive victory over St Mel’s College in the Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship on Tuesday.

This was the second win in as many games for the Collins Avenue side in Group A of the provincial competition, and as a result, they have safely secured their place in the knock-out stages. A 1-19 to 1-10 success against Patrician, Newbridge last Wednesday week set-up a winner-takes-all encounter with Mel’s in Whitehall, and thanks in no small part to goals from Leonard and midfielder Sergei Runin, Aidan’s took firm control of the action in the first-quarter.

With Dublin minor star James Doran once again proving to be a focal point in attack, the hosts brought a 4-12 to 0-4 lead into the break. It was a case of damage limitation for Mel’s when the action resumed, and despite the best efforts of Cian Dooner and Daire O’Brien, Aidan’s continued to be the dominant force in the game.

The dynamic full-forward line of Foley, Gannon and Leonard (two) added goals for the rampant Dubliners, while Runin maintained the impressive standards he had set prior to the interval. He finished with a personal tally of 1-5 in an astonishing 10-20 to 0-9 triumph, and Aidan’s will now progress to the quarter-finals alongside the other five group winners and two teams from the combined schools section.

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on Leinster Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Group A: St Aidan’s CBS V St Mel’s College – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

Dublin Schools Juvenile ‘B’ Football Championship Final: St Colmcille’s CS V Colaiste Eanna – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

DUBLIN JUV ‘B’ F FINAL: ST COLMCILLE’S 5-8 COL EANNA 3-4

Colmcille’s earn local bragging rights with win

Daire Walsh

DARRAGH Malone and Ben Lawlor were in sparkling form at O’Toole Park last Friday afternoon as St Colmcille’s CS had the measure of local rivals Colaiste Eanna in the Dublin Schools Juvenile Football ‘B’ Championship decider.

The two schools are located just over a mile apart from each other on the capital’s southside, and with several players from both teams playing club football together with Ballyboden St Enda’s, this was always going to be a fiercely competitive affair.

Eanna edged in front early on with a terrific goal from wing-forward Ross Mullarkey, but the Colmcille’s response to this setback was emphatic.

Malone and Lawlor secured quick-fire three-pointers for the Scholarstown Road outfit, and even though Eanna centre-forward Paul Basquel (cousin of Dublin footballer Colm) shot beyond the reach of opposition netminder Ryan Skelly, Colmcille’s midfielder James O’Brien brought the curtain down on a goal-laden opening half with a superb finish to the roof of the net.

This helped Colmcille’s to establish a 3-4 to 2-3 interval advantage, but Eanna got themselves up and running after the restart with a pointed free courtesy of full-forward Kieron Kiely. Colmcille’s appeared to settle once more with back-to-back efforts from Michael Hanrahan and Malone, only for Eanna corner-forward Sean Bury to reduce the gap to two points at the end of the third-quarter.

However, this was as close as the Ballyroan Crescent side came to reining in the challenge of their neighbours, as additional goals from Lawlor and Hanrahan guided an impressive St Colmcille’s towards a ten-point success.

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on Dublin Schools Juvenile ‘B’ Football Championship Final: St Colmcille’s CS V Colaiste Eanna – The Evening Herald – December 7 2017

Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Group C: Colaiste Eoin V Scoil Mhuire Clane – December 7 2017

LEINSTER SF ‘A’ GROUP C: COLAISTE EOIN 2-12 SCOIL MHUIRE CLANE 1-7

EOIN GET INTO THE GROOVE

Booterstown boys get to knock-out stages

Daire Walsh

FIRST-HALF goals from Tomás Ó hEachthigheirn and Fionn Ó Ceallaigh set the foundations for Colaiste Eoin’s triumph over Scoil Mhuire, Clane in the Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship at Silver Park yesterday.

Eoin entered this Group C fixture needing a win to progress to the quarter-finals and after they had opened the scoring with back-to-back points from Pádraig Puirséil and Ó Ceallaigh, Ó hEachthigheirn added a 10th-minute goal for the hosts.

BRACE

Mhuire then brought the teams level with a brace of Sam McCormack frees either side of a stunning Shane Sullivan three-pointer, but Eoin quickly settled back into their groove.

A neat Jack Ó Tuama score was supplemented by a second goal from full-forward Ó Ceallaigh, and courtesy of unanswered scores by Diarmuid Ó Floinn and Ó Ceallaigh, they entered the break with a commanding 2-5 to 1-2 cushion. Quick-fire Mhuire points by McCormack and David Kelly upon the resumption kept the Booterstown school on their toes, but following a 0-3 salvo from Ó Ceallaigh, they reinforced their superiority. The dead-ball accuracy of McCormack kept Mhuire within touching distance for much of the second half, until Eoin corner-forwards Tomás Ó Néill and Puirséil found the target in style.

Colaiste Eoin did have to negotiate their way through seven minutes of stoppage-time, but thanks to late points from Ó Ceallaigh and Ó Néill, they eased into the knock-out rounds.

Scorers – Colaiste Eoin: F Ó Ceallaigh 1-6 (0-4f), T Ó hEachthigheirn 1-0, P Puirseil, T O Neill 0-2 each, D O Floinn, J O Tuama 0-1 each. Colaiste Mhuire, Clane: S McCormack 0-5 (5f), S Sullivan 1-1, D Kelly 0-1.

COLAISTE EOIN: S Ó Mathúna; C Mac Giolla Phádraig, F Potts, M Mac Eoin; D Ó Floinn, C Cinseallach, N Ó Moynihan-O Brádaigh; J Ó Tuama, P Ó Cofaigh-Byrne; D Ó Dúgáin, T Ó hEachthigheirn, A Ó Cuínn; P Puirséil, F Ó Ceallaigh, T Ó Néill. Subs: S Ó Fiachna for hEachthigheirn (h-t), C Mac Daibhéid for Mac Giolla Phadraig (46), D Ó Ceallacháin for O Tuama (62).

COLAISTE MHUIRE, CLANE: J Ball; J Reilly, J Browne, M Conville; D Vaughan, C Ward, M Hannon; S Callan, G Kelly; M Gill, D Kelly, C Harris; S Sullivan, J Behan, S McCormack. Subs: E O Haire for Vaughan, E Walshe for Conville (both h-t), M Kelly for G Kelly (48).

Referee: B O Bradaigh (Louth).

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Group C: Colaiste Eoin V Scoil Mhuire Clane – December 7 2017

My Club: UCC RFC (Club President Matthew Morehan) – In Touch Magazine – December 6 2017

CLUB SCENE: MY CLUB

By DAIRE WALSH

UCC RFC

UCC Rugby Club,

Ferry Lodge,

Mardyke Walk,

Mardyke,

Cork.

www.rugbyucc.ie

WITH last Saturday’s 22-15 success away to UL Bohemians marking their fifth win from six matches), UCC RFC currently find themselves occupying a play-off position in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B table.

The Cork students finished just outside of the top four at the end of the 2016/17 season, and with new coaches Brian Walsh and Stephen Knoop making significant strides at the moment UCC club President Matthew Morehan acknowledged that the progress of the first team has been extremely pleasing.

“This is their second season in 1B. We were just outside the play-offs last year, and so far this season we’re quite competitive. We dropped a couple of points that we regret, but I suppose every club can say that. So far we’re happy enough with the progress this year,” said Morehan.

“Brian Walsh is a great addition [as head coach], and he’s coming from the professional game [with Munster]. His experience, and his stature, and his ability is a great asset to the players. Stephen Knoop looks after the forwards, and he’s very, very good too. He’s a South African who played with Connacht and Leinster in his time.”

After five years as Secretary, Morehan took on the role of President for the current campaign. The transient nature of the club makes it different to their city rivals Cork Constitution and Dolphin, but he has played his part in maintaining its vibrancy.

“I’m not directly involved in the rugby. I’m more a figurehead if you like really, but it’s very, very enjoyable. Our club is a little bit different to say a Con or Dolphin or Shannon. It’s a transient club, where the students play for us for their couple of years when they’re in the university, and then they’re gone.

HARDCORE

“We’re relying on a hardcore of ‘alicks’ to kind of keep the show going long-term. I suppose I would be one of them, and we’re very proud that we’re going for nearly 150 years now.”

Down through the decades, a number of future Ireland internationals have passed through the halls of UCC RFC. This includes present stars like John Ryan and Darren Sweetnam, and as Morehan explains, there is a strong link to a couple of former Ireland greats in the current senior squad.

“Through the Heineken Cup years, or indeed even the current time, a lot of those players would have done a season or two at least with UCC. They might better known for Con or Shannon or something, but Darren Sweetnam played with us for a couple of years.

“Going back along then in the glory years. Denis Leamy, [Ronan] O’Gara, [Peter] Stringer, Mick O’Driscoll, all those guys. They all played with UCC. Our current captain is Paul Kiernan. He is Michael’s son, who won the Triple Crown for us in ’85, and he’d be a grand nephew of Tom Kiernan,” he added.

Posted in Senior Club Rugby | Comments Off on My Club: UCC RFC (Club President Matthew Morehan) – In Touch Magazine – December 6 2017

Rugby Column Number 100: The Kildare Nationalist – December 5 2017

RUGBY COLUMN – DECEMBER 5 2017

By Daire Walsh

James Lowe enjoyed a debut to remember on Saturday afternoon last, when Leinster secured a comprehensive bonus-point victory over Benetton Treviso in the Guinness PRO14.

With 25 tries from 52 appearances during his four-seasons stint with the Chiefs in his native New Zealand, Lowe’s arrival in Dublin was always likely to met with great excitement and anticipation. The Māori All Black was selected on the left-wing for his Leinster debut, where he was joined by rising star Jordan Larmour and the experienced Dave Kearney.

Fresh from his recent appearances for Ireland in the Guinness Series, Kill’s James Tracy was named alongside Jack McGrath and Andrew Porter (who also featured on the international stage in November) in the Blues’ front-row, and there was space for Suncroft man Fergus McFadden amongst the replacements.

Leinster were aiming to build on their commanding win against the Dragons eight days earlier, but in a similar vein to that encounter, they found themselves staring into an early deficit. A Tommaso Allan penalty edged Treviso in front, before Lowe broke opened his account with a neat finish on 16 minutes.

This was followed by a conversion from fly-half Ross Byrne (getting another chance to impress in the absence of Jonathan Sexton and Athy’s Joey Carbery), and her the visitors’ cushion with a successful place-kick on 25 minutes.

He also supplied the bonuses to a Jordi Murphy five-pointer, and this gave Leinster a 17-3 advantage heading into the break. Treviso’s improved form in this season’s league had made them a much tougher proposition, though, and they fought back into the reckoning with a converted Nacho Brex touchdown 16 minutes into the second-half.

However, this was only a temporary speed bump for Leinster, and a try from the returning Garry Ringrose on the hour mark provided them with significant breathing space. Luke McGrath was given an all-too-brief cameo by Joe Schmidt in Ireland’s win over Argentina on the previous weekend, and his third try in two provincial appearances in the 64th-minute will give the international management food for thought.

On his maiden cap for his new team, Lowe was named player of the match, and his second try in the closing stages helped Leinster to return from Italy with a 36-10 triumph. This moves them up to second place in Conference B, and they will now welcome back their front-line international stars ahead of away Champions Cup fixture with Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.

Elsewhere, former Cill Dara player Aine Donnelly started at outside centre for the Leinster Women’s side in Dromore last Sunday, as they began the defence of their Interprovincial title with a  convincing 34-10 success against Ulster.

Kilcullen’s Jenny Murphy will miss this series due to injury, but with current head coach Adam Griggs set to take charge of the Irish senior side on an interim basis for next year’s Six Nations, the remaining encounters with Connacht and Munster are ideal opportunities to show what they can offer in a green jersey.

Posted in Rugby Column | Comments Off on Rugby Column Number 100: The Kildare Nationalist – December 5 2017

OCI Pre-EGM Media Briefing: Key Points – The Irish Examiner – December 6 2017

Goal to be financially independent, self-sufficient

Daire Walsh

As part of their new, athlete-centred seven-year strategic plan (2018-2024), the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) are seeking to become a financially independent, self-sufficient body.

This was one of the key points outlined by OCI President Sarah Keane at a media briefing in Dublin’s Buswells Hotel, which acted as a precursor to their latest EGM last night in the National Sports Campus.

In order to fully maximise their brand name, Keane and her board will look to generate significant revenue to help fund the programmes and services they currently provide to their athletes.

“The Olympic Council has always had substantial reserves. I think this board will look at what we think is the right amount of reserves that we should be holding. Everything else will be going back into sport. I also think, as we further develop our relationship with the IOC, they have taken on extra sponsors,” Keane stated.

“The way it works is, they have 12 or 13 top sponsors, and they give a certain amount of that to all of the Olympic committees. That amount of money is quite significant in this cycle. It’s over €1m, maybe close to €2m. It goes up every year, so you get a certain percentage every year in a cycle. We are able to budget. That’s multi-annual funding.

“We don’t have that in this country, but we have it at international level, as it’s recognised as being important in terms of planning. Whether it’s optimistic or otherwise, we do believe as a board we will bring in commercial revenue over time.”

Last night’s EGM also addressed what will be a key change to its constitution, whereby term limits will be imposed on OCI’s executive committee members. As a general rule going forward, each person will have a four-year individual term of office, and won’t be allowed to serve on the executive for more than eight years (i.e. two four-year terms).

This rule is set to be fully implemented from 2028 (the next OCI elections are in 2020), and though it is far from being a done deal, Keane sees it as a step in the right direction.

“The first thing is our member confederations have to vote this in. We need 75% present for the governance changes to be approved. It’s not a done deal at this point. I think it’s just one step. What we’re doing in terms of how we’re running the board, our transparency, our funding policy, how we follow the strategic policy, and that we’re held to account, are all part of that.

“Ultimately, whether we change, the reputation of the organisation is not ours. It’s the public’s. When we drop the ball, we’ll say we’ve dropped the ball and hopefully it won’t impact on an athlete.”

Members at the EGM were presented with a new strategy by the OCI Athletes Commission, which aims to provide a voice to athletes on their respective Olympic journeys.

The commission’s chairman, former Winter Olympian Shane O’Connor, joined Keane and fellow board members Lochlann Walsh and Sarah O’Shea at yesterday’s briefing, and is confident that effective structures can lead to future success for athletes.

“From an athlete’s perspective, it’s really key that structures are put in place to support performance. There is no point talking about setting arbitrary targets and medals if we don’t have that in place,” O’Connor explained.

“We have to look at what we have and what we have to change. Once we have good systems in place to enable performance, then I think you’ll see the achievement.”

Posted in General Sports News Piece | Comments Off on OCI Pre-EGM Media Briefing: Key Points – The Irish Examiner – December 6 2017