Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final: Blackrock College V Cistercian College Roscrea – The Irish Examiner – February 23 2024

Leinster Schools kingpins Blackrock College end Roscrea run

A strong second-half performance saw Blackrock College into semi-finals
DAIRE WALSH, ENERGIA PARK
Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final: Blackrock College 25 Cistercian College Roscrea 3 

Seventy-time champions Blackrock College produced a strong second-half display at Energia Park yesterday to get the better of Cistercian College Roscrea at the quarter-final stage of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup.

On level terms (3-3) at the midway point in the proceedings, Roscrea were very much in the reckoning for a last-four spot. However, with ‘Rock adding 22 unanswered points on the resumption – including a brace of tries from Niall Smyth – their journey in this year’s competition ultimately came to an end.

Out-half Conor O’Shaughnessy contributed an impressive 24 points in ‘Rock’s 85-7 opening round triumph over The High School and he calmly slotted a breakthrough penalty between the posts with just under three minutes gone on the clock.

While Roscrea spectacularly came from 22 points behind to defeat Newbridge College in the previous round of the Senior Cup, the boys from the Offaly-Tipperary border realised they could ill-afford to make another slow start in the Donnybrook venue.

They were presented with an ideal opportunity to restore parity in the 10th minute, but Jack Deegan’s long-distance penalty drifted off-target. The inside centre had a far more routine kick at goal just five minutes later, however, and made no mistake on that occasion.

Although ‘Rock lost O’Shaughnessy to the sin-bin during this period, the damage was kept to a minimum and a strong break from full-back Charlie Molony ensured the Williamstown school were back inside the Roscrea half in time for his return.

However, Roscrea were more than willing to showcase their own attacking intent and threatened to break over the whitewash on a couple of occasions towards the end of the opening period. On their hand, the Cistercian defence had to be at their most abrasive to hold up ‘Rock second row Donnacha McGuire as he attempted to force his way over the line on the stroke of half-time.

Yet the start of the second half saw ‘Rock piling pressure on the opposition defence once again and they finally claimed their first try of the day when tighthead prop Smyth dotted down powerfully to the right of the posts.

O’Shaughnessy’s wayward bonus strike kept the gap between the teams at five points, but with ‘Rock beginning to dominate possession, it seemed like only a matter of time before their lead was extended.

Roscrea came under additional scrutiny as a result of the yellow card that was issued to winger Dan Punch and in his absence, Smyth rounded off an extended set-piece move on 53 minutes for his second try.

There was a sense that the floodgates might open in the wake of this five-pointer and even though Mark Walsh was denied on the right-wing moments earlier, Jack O’Neill grabbed their third try just shy of the hour mark after he spotted a gap on the far flank.

This effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt and with O’Shaughnessy knocking over a penalty on the stroke of full-time, Blackrock re-established themselves as one of the teams to beat in the competition.

Scorers for Blackrock College: Tries – N Smyth (2), J O’Neill. Pens – C O’Shaughnessy (2). Cons – C O’Shaughnessy (2).

Scorers for Cistercian College Roscrea: Pens – J Deegan.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: C Molony; J O’Sullivan, D Moloney, Mark Walsh, B O’Flaherty; C O’Shaughnessy, A Lindner; P Moore, J Pollard, N Smyth; T Butler, D McGuire; Michael Walsh, J O’Neill, J Angulo.

Replacements: L Coffey for Lindner (52), G Wall for Michael Walsh (59), B Walsh for Butler (64), M O’Sullivan for O’Neill (67).

CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA: R Donnelly; D Punch, R Carney, J Deegan, H Finlay; J Powell, A Moloney; F Hogan, E Naughton, H Maher; J Finn, C Kearney; J Miller, W Hayes, E Brophy.

Replacements: O Doody for Hogan (h-t), S Killeen for Kearney, B O’Rourke for Donnelly (both 39), F Carney for Moloney (44), S Cusack for Carney, A Walsh for Powell (both 66), C Little for Naughton, C Little for Maher (both 68).

Referee: S Holt (LRR).

Posted in Schools Rugby | Comments Off on Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final: Blackrock College V Cistercian College Roscrea – The Irish Examiner – February 23 2024

Updated Dancing With The Stars Odds Piece: Gambling.com – February 22 2024

Dancing With The Stars: Who Will Win This Year’s Series?

Daire Walsh

Week Eight of the competition is almost upon us and with the first dance-off having taken place last weekend, betting sites are once again looking at the odds of each remaining contestant in this year’s Dancing With The Stars.

After being revealed as the bottom two in the public vote last Sunday, former RTE newsreader Eileen Dunne and 2003 Miss World winner Rosanna Davison found themselves back on the dancefloor in a bid to remain in the reckoning for another week at least.

Dunne and her dance partner Robert Rowinski had earlier scored 19 points for their Paso Doble to A La Carte’s Viva Torero, while Davison and Stephen Vincent gained a combined score of 22 after executing a Tango to Together in Electric Dreams by Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey.

In order to avoid elimination, the participant in a dance-off must gain approval from two of the three DWTS judges.

In the end, after both couples had performed their respective dances for a second time, Arthur Gourounlian and Brian Redmond opted to save Davison and Vincent at the expense of Dunne and Rowinski.

Even though her vote wasn’t required in the end, Loraine Barry did state that she would have elected to keep Davison and Vincent in the competition.

Davison Seen As An Outsider For Top Dancing Prize

While she would have been delighted to have survived the dance-off, Davison will now be hoping that an improved performance for Orchestra Week this coming Sunday can help her to progress automatically from a packed field.

However, at the time of writing, she is viewed as a 14/1 outsider with BoyleSports to come away with the competition’s top dancing prize.

Whelan Once Again The Bookies’ Favourites For DWTS Title

Although he only secured the third-highest vote from the judges last weekend, Wild Youth band member David Whelan remains the favourite with specials betting sites to win the 2024 Dancing With The Stars.

It was always going to be tough to replicate the 10 he received from Barry in week six for a Rumba to Sting’s Fields of Gold, but he nevertheless claimed a brace of nines and an eight for his Quickstep with Salome Chachua to Almost Like Being in Love by Bradley Walsh.

At odds of 13/8, he continues to lead the betting for RTE’s prime Sunday evening programme.

Hydrangea Breathing Down Whelan’s Neck

Yet Blu Hydrangea has been keeping up the pace for several weeks and last Sunday’s show saw the Northern Ireland drag queen and Simone Arena delivering arguably the best dance of season seven to date.

Claiming a score of nine from Redmond was impressive in its own right, but the perfect 10 that Barry and Gourounlian awarded the pair raised the roof off the studio.

A Viennese Waltz to Teddy Swims’ Lose Control, this dance also saw Hydrangea appearing as Joshua Cargill for the first time in the series.

One of the most consistent performers on a weekly basis, Blu is rated as a 10/3 prospect amongst Irish bookmakers.

Russell Now Seen As A Genuine Contender

Having initially struggled to make an impression, former national hunt jockey Davy Russell has proven to be one of the surprise packages of this year’s Dancing With The Stars.

His chances of success appeared bleak when he only garnered 12 points from the judges in week three, but just 21 days later, he was awarded an excellent tally of 26 for a dance that was dedicated to his wife Edelle.

This particular effort helped to gain him immunity from last weekend’s dance-off, though the solid total of 23 that he and Kylee Vincent claimed for their Tango to Whatever Love Wants by Sarah Vaughan might have been enough to keep them out of it in any event.

After being well down the betting pecking order for much of his time on the show, Russell is now the third-favourite to win the latest edition of DWTS at 4/1.

Presenters Mia And Fox Also In The Reckoning

Meanwhile, just behind the Cork native are Katja Mia and Laura Fox – presenters on Virgin Media and RTE respectively – at odds of 9/2 with betting apps.

The daughter of Burundi parents who was raised in Blanchardstown, Dublin, Mia produced a season best tally of 27 points last week for her Charleston to I Need You by Jon Batiste with professional partner Ervinas Merfeldas – who interestingly is the Kildare-born son of Lithuanian parents.

Like Mia, Galway woman Fox has continued to score high marks from the DWTS judges and has yet to drop below 21 points for any of her dances in the competition. Performing a Cha-cha-cha to Ariana Grande’s ‘yes, and?’

Fox and Denys Samson came away with a strong haul of 24 points – or eight points each – from the judges and they are expected to remain in the hunt despite being the last contestants to be called safe on Sunday last.

Smyth Viewed As Rank Outsider For An Overall Win

Coming in behind Davison at the far end of the betting for Dancing With The Stars is Irish paralympic legend Jason Smyth.

This in spite of the fact that he produced one of his best performances of the series so far last weekend.

Showcasing his Samba with Karen Byrne to Enrique Iglesias’ Rhythm Divine, he was handed a healthy total of 23 points.

This was just a single point off his Week Three tally – a Contemporary Ballroom dance to Show Me What I’m Looking For by Carolina Liar.

He is only available at 25/1 with new betting sites as a potential winner, but even though it seems unlikely that he will come out on top, his considerable popularity could see him continuing to feature in the competition for an extended spell.

Posted in Entertainment | Comments Off on Updated Dancing With The Stars Odds Piece: Gambling.com – February 22 2024

Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final: St Michael’s College V Terenure College – The Irish Examiner – February 22 2024

Leinster Senior Cup: St Michael’s forced to dig deep before securing progression 

When Duinn Maguire drove over for his second try of the afternoon right on the stroke of 70 minutes, Michael’s were finally assured of a last-four spot.
DAIRE WALSH, ENERGIA PARK

LEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP QUARTER-FINAL

St Michael’s College 29 Terenure College 21  

St Michael’s College were forced to dig deep at Energia Park before ultimately securing a Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final victory at the expense of Terenure College.

After comprehensively dominating possession in the early stages, Michael’s edged in front with a seventh-minute penalty from out-half Joe Quigley.

Andy Skehan’s side looked set to push on from here, but instead, it was their fellow south Dubliners who subsequently bagged the first try of the game.

At the end of an extended attack inside the Michael’s ‘22’, ‘Nure’s own number 10, Caspar Gabriel Lorin, linked up brilliantly with Louis Moran before dotting down for a try that he followed up with a routine conversion.

There was still plenty of time for Michael’s to work their way back into the reckoning, however, and it took an excellent last-ditch tackle by Gabriel Lorin to deny winger Patrick Wood a try on 25 minutes.

The Ailesbury Road outfit developed further attacking momentum as the interval approached and while the ‘Nure defence held them out for large stretches, Michael’s eventually regained the initiative with a ‘tap and go’ finish from hooker Duinn Maguire.

This five-pointer offered the three-time champions a slender 8-7 lead moving into the second half, but their cushion was significantly extended when inside centre Charlie McConnell drove over the line five minutes after the resumption.

Although ‘Nure were left to chase the game, they once again issued a powerful response to the concession of a score. Following a superb catch and run up the left-flank, full-back Paddy Curry released Dan Martin for their side’s second try of the contest.

A successful conversion from Geoff O’Sullivan (who took over place-kicking duties after Gabriel Lorin was withdrawn through injury) cut the gap to a single point and the minimum separated the teams once more as a result of converted tries by Michael’s replacement Chris O’Connor and Curry at opposite ends of the pitch.

This helped to increase the tension around the Donnybrook venue, but when Maguire drove over for his second try of the afternoon right on the stroke of 70 minutes, Michael’s were finally assured of a last-four spot.

ST MICHAEL’S COLLEGE: D Lucey; D Pryce, E Black, C McConnell, P Wood; J Quigley, J Sherwin; B O’Donohoe, D Maguire, R Coogan; D Walsh, F McKenna; J Elliot, R Brown, S Corrigan.

Replacements: C O’Connor for Sherwin (51), D Ryan for Quigley (58), M Berman for McKenna (63).

TERENURE COLLEGE: P Curry; D Cullinan, D Martin, L Moran, G O’Sullivan; C Gabriel Lorin, E Mallen; A Cooper, M Egan, L Kearney; J Mooney, J Carter; B Blaney, M Murphy, L Wardick.

Replacements: G Morgan for Gabriel Lorin (33), L Friery for Blaney (46), S McAllister for Kearney (51), E Balamash for Cullinan, L McNiff for Carter (both 52).

Referee: D Blake (LRR).

Posted in Schools Rugby | Comments Off on Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final: St Michael’s College V Terenure College – The Irish Examiner – February 22 2024

Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final: Gonzaga College V Belvedere College – The Irish Examiner – February 21 2024

Leinster Senior Cup: Gonzaga snatch victory at the death to book semi berth

Gonzaga pounced for an Aidan O’Flanagan five-pointer right at the death and a nerveless bonus strike from Daragh O’Dwyer ultimately propelled them into the forthcoming semi-finals.
DAIRE WALSH, ENERGIA PARK

LEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP QUARTER-FINAL 

Gonzaga College 34 Belvedere College 33

Aidan O’Flanagan and Daragh O’Dwyer were the heroes at Energia Park yesterday as defending champions Gonzaga College snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Belvedere College in a compelling Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final.

Eight points in front with less than 10 minutes remaining in the Donnybrook venue, the Ranelagh school were on the verge of a last-eight exit after Belvedere lock Cillian McCann claimed a brace of quickfire converted tries.

However, Gonzaga subsequently pounced for an O’Flanagan five-pointer right at the death and a nerveless bonus strike from O’Dwyer ultimately propelled them into the forthcoming semi-finals.

Gonzaga had made a dream start to the action when fly-half O’Dwyer charged down an attempted clearance by his opposite number Hugh Fitzgerald for a fourth-minute try that he also converted – only for their north Dublin counterparts to fire back almost immediately with a similar effort from dynamic No 8 Harry Goslin.

There proved to be little to separate the teams as the first half wore on and with Goslin cancelling out a Gonzaga five-pointer courtesy of JP Breslin, the sides were level at 12-12 during the interval.

However, Belvo lost their left-wing Gordon Barr to the sin-bin at the very end of the opening period and before he could return to the field of play, Gonzaga hooker Luke McLaughlin had driven over the line for a 39th minute try.

An O’Dwyer penalty subsequently stretched the south Dubliners 10 points in front and even though Belvo struck back with another try from loosehead prop Eoin McDermott (supplemented by an Andre Ryan conversion) on the third-quarter mark, McLaughlin’s second score of the half kept Gonzaga very much in the driving seat.

This Belvo side had come from behind to defeat Clongowes Wood College in the first round of this year’s Senior Cup, however, and looked set to do the same as a consequence of McCann’s clinical finishes in the 64th and 66th minutes respectively.

Yet there was to be a final twist in the tale and it was the impressive duo of O’Flanagan and O’Dwyer who ultimately ensured Gonzaga’s progression to the penultimate round.

Scorers for Gonzaga College: Tries – L McLaughlin (2), D O’Dwyer, JP Breslin, A O’Flanagan. Pens – D O’Dwyer. Cons – D O’Dwyer (3).

Scorers for Belvedere College: Tries – H Goslin (2), C McCann (2), E McDermott. Cons – A Ryan (4).

GONZAGA COLLEGE: N Byrne; JP Breslin, A O’Flanagan, P Masterson, B Colbert; D O’Dwyer, T Brophy; S Heneghan, L McLaughlin, J Sheil; M Kennedy, M Bruton; J Mulligan, C Kennedy, M Tyrrell.

Replacements: M Doherty for Bruton (29), Z Mulligan for Colbert (54), J O’Dwyer for Brophy (58), J Brophy for McLaughlin (69).

BELVEDERE COLLEGE: T Quinn; H Ennis, D Lord, A Ryan, G Barr; H Fitzgerald, M Doyle; E McDermott, M McCarthy, B Merry; C McCann, R McCann; C McLoughlin, A Clarke, H Goslin.

Replacements: S Barry for Ennis (18), P McGrath for McCarthy, C Quinn for Merry, C McKinley for McLoughlin, C Fitzgerald for Clarke (all 43), C Lyons for Barry (59).

Referee: P Haycock (LRR).

Posted in Schools Rugby | Comments Off on Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final: Gonzaga College V Belvedere College – The Irish Examiner – February 21 2024

Next Republic of Ireland Manager Odds Piece: Gambling.com – February 19 2024

Who Will Succeed Stephen Kenny As Next Ireland Manager?

Daire Walsh

It is coming up on three months since Stephen Kenny’s reign as Republic of Ireland men’s national team manager came to an end and with speculation intensifying on an almost daily basis, betting sites are taking a great interest in who will eventually take over from the former Dundalk boss.

Following a sorely underwhelming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign – that saw Ireland suffering home and away defeats at the hands of France, Netherlands and Greece – the FAI decided not to offer a new deal to the aforementioned Kenny.

Despite enjoying great success on the domestic front, the 52-year-old Tallaght man struggled to deliver consistent results during his time at the helm and finished with just 11 wins from 40 games – only six of which were in competitive fixtures.

Given the side have now dropped down to 62 in the FIFA World Rankings (just eight places above their lowest-ever placing from 10 years ago), it can’t be underestimated how important it is for the FAI to appoint the right man to bring Ireland forward into the future.

This might go some way towards explaining why the process behind finding a replacement for Kenny has been so protracted, though frustration is growing amongst supporters and pundits alike about how long it is taking for white smoke to emerge from FAI HQ.

Coleman The New Favourite For The Ireland Job

Three names in particular have been heavily linked to the job in recent weeks and one of this select group suddenly found himself catapulted to the top of the bookies’ shortlist over the weekend.

After previously being rated as a 25/1 outsider for the role, Chris Coleman is now available at 4/6 with betting apps to be the next Republic of Ireland supremo.

This is in the wake of reports on Sunday that the ex-Crystal Palace and Fulham defender had met with the FAI’s headhunting team of Marc Canham, Jonathan Hill and Packie Bonner about the role.

While his track record as a club manager is mixed to say the least, he did steer Wales to the semi-final of Euro 2016 after taking on the job in the aftermath of Gary Speed’s sad passing a little over four years earlier.

Although he came up short in his bid to get his native land into the 2018 World Cup, his time at the Welsh helm is still remembered positively and this could work in his favour when it comes to the Ireland post.

He also has a strong family connection to the country as his father Paddy originally hailed from East Wall in Dublin. Additionally, current AFC Wimbledon attacker Ronan Curtis (who has picked up seven Ireland senior caps to date) is Coleman’s godson.

The lukewarm reaction to the news that he is now seen as a genuine contender for the job suggests that his appointment wouldn’t be met with universal approval, but Coleman is leading the field for the time being.

Carsley Still In The Running Despite Some Doubts

Long seen as the bookies’ favourite – and the ideal choice of the FAI – it appeared to be an absolute certainty just a couple of weeks ago that Lee Carsley was going to be stepping into the Irish hotseat.

This hasn’t materialised to date, however, and it is beginning to look more and more likely that he won’t be moving into senior international management.

Currently employed by the English FA as their U21 boss (and highly-regarded by many as a result of winning the European Championship with the side), Carsley possesses the kind of coaching profile that the FAI believes is badly needed at this point in time.

Although he was born and raised in Birmingham, the former Everton midfielder qualified for the Republic of Ireland courtesy of his grandmother being from Dunmanway in Cork.

He went on to accumulate 40 senior caps for the Boys In Green, including a brief appearance against Saudi Arabia at the 2002 World Cup.

Despite the doubts that now surround Carsley, he hasn’t been completely ruled out of the race for the job as the FAI are remaining extremely tight-lipped about who they have spoken to about the role.

While he is no longer the favoured candidate amongst the best betting apps on the market, he remains a viable contender at 3/1 with bet365.

Lennon Also In Contention, Despite Suggestions The FAI Are Looking Elsewhere

Even though the Irish Daily Mirror have suggested that he was told by the FAI that his application for the job has been unsuccessful, Neil Lennon is still listed at 9/2 with football betting sites.

A former Northern Ireland international who won 10 trophies across two spells as manager of Celtic, Lennon has made no secret of his interest in the job.

He has been working regularly as a TV pundit since being sacked by Cypriot First Division outfit Omonia in October 2022 and has spoken about the vacant role during a series of recent appearances on Premier Sports.

The Armagh native unquestionably has some plus points on his CV but, in a similar vein to Coleman, some of his recent managerial output makes him a hard sell for the majority of Irish supporters.

Yet, as long as the job remains up for grabs, Lennon’s name will continue to be linked to it.

Poyet And Hughton Amongst The Long Shots For Irish Post

Outside of the above mentioned triumvirate, Gus Poyet is the best of the outside options at 28/1. He is still at the helm of Greece – and has a Euro 2024 play-off to look forward to – but did state after his side’s win at the Aviva Stadium last year that managing Ireland is something that he would see as a privilege.

Yet he did clarify those comments to an extent during a recent visit to these shores for a promotional gig and also said the time isn’t right for him to take on the Ireland job.

Poyet started out on his managerial journey with Brighton & Hove Albion and another former supremo of the East Sussex club is just behind him in the betting stakes for the Republic of Ireland post.

A veteran of 53 Irish caps from 1979 to 1991, Chris Hughton guided Brighton to Premier League promotion in 2017 – seven years after doing the same with Newcastle United.

He also worked as a Republic of Ireland assistant manager under Brian Kerr in the past and most recently was in charge of Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations.

However, that latter role ended in disappointment and he also had a forgettable stint in charge of Nottingham Forest in the English Championship.

This, combined with the assertion of his ex-coaching partner Kerr that he wouldn’t want to jump straight back into management soon after being relieved of his Ghanaian duties, explains why he is only rated at 28/1 for the Ireland job.

Elsewhere in the betting market, former Ireland coach Anthony Barry (who is currently working with both Portugal and Bayern Munich) is regarded as a 33/1 rank outsider with new betting sites.

Behind the Liverpudlian, there are a host of contenders listed at 40/1 – including former international stars like Roy Keane, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff.

Posted in International Soccer | Comments Off on Next Republic of Ireland Manager Odds Piece: Gambling.com – February 19 2024

United Rugby Championship Follow-Up Piece: Leinster V Benetton – Leo Cullen – The42.ie – February 19 2024

‘It’s very positive’ – Leinster welcome Byrne and Osborne back from injury

Leo Cullen hailed the fit-again pair after Saturday’s win over Benetton.

FOLLOWING SIGNIFICANT ABSENCES for both players, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was pleased to be able to welcome Ross Byrne and Jamie Osborne back into the fold at the RDS on Saturday.

Whereas Byrne had been sidelined after hurting his arm in the early moments of a United Rugby Championship showdown with arch rivals Munster at the Aviva Stadium on 25 November, a shoulder injury sustained in another interprovincial clash away to Connacht a week later also kept Osborne on the treatment table for an extended period.

Yet with 19 of their provincial colleagues currently part of the Ireland squad for the Six Nations Championship, this fit-again pair played their part as Leinster secured a 47-18 bonus point triumph over Benetton at the Ballsbridge venue on the weekend.

Byrne knocked over four conversions and performed solidly before making way for Sam Prendergast on the stroke of 70 minutes, while Osborne produced a player of the match display as the eastern province remained at the summit of the URC table.

“Those guys, they’ve missed a good chunk. It’s a big block of games that they ended up missing. It’s great to have the two of them back, because even though Jamie is incredibly young, he has a lot of experience for us now,” Cullen acknowledged after Saturday’s game.

“He’s definitely one for the future for us, for sure. His big left boot gets us out of trouble at different stages during the game. It’s very positive to get the two of them through the game.

“It’s not just what you see in the 80 minutes, it is how Ross runs the week. It’s obviously the bit that you don’t see, but he’s very good in terms of the control of the group. I thought he was excellent, so it was great to have him back.”

Like his fellow Kildare man Jimmy O’Brien and Ciaran Frawley – who had been released back to Leinster at the beginning of last week before returning to international training on Thursday – Osborne is a highly versatile player. Already this season, he has played in both centre positions and was also used on the left-wing in that aforementioned game against Connacht in Galway.

He has also been named at full-back on a couple of occasions and while he did excel at inside centre for much of Saturday’s game, his ability to slot into any number of roles in the Leinster team was once again showcased in the latter stages of the tie.

“When Tommy [O’Brien] goes off, Liam Turner goes onto the wing, so then he [Osborne] is playing 30 minutes at 13 as well. If something happened to Henry [McErlean], he would have covered 15 today as well,” Cullen explained.

“Again, that versatility is really important for the group. He looks comfortable as a 12. It’s trying to play to his strengths as well with that big left boot, but he’s incredibly skilful as well.”

Although this was their first competitive outing since getting the better of Leicester Tigers in the pool stages of the European Champions Cup on 20 January, you have to go back to a New Year’s Day loss at the hands of Ulster for the last URC encounter that Leinster had prior to Saturday.

Their next game in the competition will be a visit to Cardiff on 2 March, but there is an intriguing friendly clash for them to negotiate before then.

This Friday sees Leinster locking horns with English Premiership outfit Saracens at the StoneX Stadium in London and this is a fixture that Cullen believes will prove to be hugely beneficial for the up-and-coming members of his squad.

“Some guys will get an opportunity to play in that game, because we’ve a pretty small squad. Why do we have that game? If you think, you’ve a new coach [Jacques Nienaber] coming into the group and you’ve some young players. It’s trying to have that trickle down effect through the squad and making sure everyone is comfortable system wise,” Cullen added.

Daire Walsh

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on United Rugby Championship Follow-Up Piece: Leinster V Benetton – Leo Cullen – The42.ie – February 19 2024

United Rugby Championship: Leinster V Benetton – The Irish Examiner (Print) – February 19 2024

Cullen believes Osborne is ‘one for the future’ for his Leinster side

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was pleased to be able to welcome Ross Byrne and Jamie Osborne back into the fold for his side’s United Rugby Championship victory against Benetton at the RDS on Saturday.
DAIRE WALSH, RDS

United Rugby Championship 

Leinster 47 Benetton 18

Following lengthy absences for both players, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was pleased to be able to welcome Ross Byrne and Jamie Osborne back into the fold for his side’s United Rugby Championship victory against Benetton at the RDS on Saturday.

Whereas Byrne had been sidelined after hurting his arm in the early moments of their URC clash with Munster at the Aviva Stadium on November 25, a shoulder injury sustained in another interprovincial showdown away to Connacht a week later had also kept Osborne out of action. Yet with 19 of their squad currently involved with the Ireland set-up, the fit-again pair helped Leinster to claim a convincing bonus point triumph over Marco Bortolami’s Italian visitors at the weekend.

Byrne slotted over four conversions before making way for Sam Prendergast on the stroke of 70 minutes, while Osborne produced a player of the match display as the eastern province retained their spot at the summit of the URC table.

“Those guys, they’ve missed a good chunk. It’s a big block of games that they ended up missing. It’s great to have the two of them back, because even though Jamie is incredibly young, he has a lot of experience for us now,” Cullen acknowledged after Saturday’s game.

“He’s definitely one for the future for us, for sure. His big left boot gets us out of trouble at different stages during the game. It’s very positive to get the two of them through the game.

“It’s not just what you see in the 80 minutes, it is how Ross runs the week. It’s obviously the bit that you don’t see, but he’s very good in terms of the control of the group. I thought he was excellent, so it was great to have him back.”

Benetton had come into this game just two points adrift of Leinster in the league standings and immediately threw down the gauntlet with a try from winger Ignacio Mendy less than two minutes into the play.

This was an early set-back for the Blues, but converted tries from Scott Penny and Luke McGrath ensured they had turned the table on Benetton by the end of the opening quarter.

While Jacob Umaga (nephew of former All Blacks international Tana Umaga) did knock over a routine penalty, Osborne effortlessly released his centre partner Liam Turner for a try on 34 minutes. Yet with another Mendy try being followed up by Umaga’s long-distance place-kick, Leinster’s interval lead stood at just three points (21-18).

However, the hosts reinforced their authority on the resumption when Jason Jenkins crossed the whitewash for a bonus score and a maiden try in the blue of Leinster for replacement scrum-half Ben Murphy placed the outcome beyond doubt in the 65th minute.

Cullen’s men had fully blown off the cobwebs after not playing a competitive fixture since January 20 and with Brian Deeny also touching down in advance of Penny grabbing his second of the afternoon in the closing moments of the contest, they cruised towards a 29-point success.

Scorers for Leinster: Tries – S Penny (2), L McGrath, L Turner, J Jenkins, B Murphy. B Deeny. Cons – R Byrne (4), S Prendergast (2).

Scorers for Benetton: Tries – I Mendy (2). Pens – J Umaga (2). Cons – J Umaga.

LEINSTER: H McErlean; T O’Brien, L Turner, J Osborne, R Russell; R Byrne, L McGrath; J Boyle, L Barron, T Clarkson; R Molony, J Jenkins; W Connors, S Penny, M Deegan.

Replacements: J McKee for Barron, E Byrne for Boyle, M Ala’alatoa for Clarkson (all 47), B Brownlee for O’Brien (49), R Ruddock for Connors, B Murphy for McGrath (both 59), B Deeny for Jenkins (66), S Prendergast for R Byrne (70).

BENETTON: J Umaga; I Mendy, M Fekitoa, M Zanon, O Ratave; T Albornoz, A Uren; T Gallo, S Maile, T Pasquali; G Koegelenberg, E Snyman; G Pettinelli, T Halafihi, H Time-Stowers.

Replacements: G Nicotera for Maile, A Izekor for Pettinelli (both 47), F Alongi for Pasquali, R Favretto for Time-Stowers (both 51), A Garbisi for Uren (55), L Marin for Albornoz (64), F Drago for Zanon (70), F Zani for Gallo (73).

Referee: H Davidson (SRU).

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on United Rugby Championship: Leinster V Benetton – The Irish Examiner (Print) – February 19 2024

LIDL National Football League Division One: Armagh V Meath – Ladiesgaelic.ie – February 18 2024

Armagh continue brilliant start to season as Mackin and Mallon goals put Meath to the sword

Lidl National Football League

Armagh 2-12

Meath 0-8

By DAIRE WALSH

Aimee Mackin and Kelly Mallon struck 1-4 apiece at Ashbourne as Armagh moved to the summit of Lidl National Football League Division 1 table with a convincing triumph over Meath.

Both teams had come into this game with 100% records from the opening three rounds of this year’s NFL, but with Mackin and Mallon leading their charge, it is Armagh who are the new pace-setters in the top tier.

While Emma Duggan shone brightly throughout, Meath — who are under the guidance of former Orchard boss Shane McCormack in 2024 — ultimately suffered their first defeat of the campaign.

 Fresh from featuring for Leeds Rhinos in the Netball Superleague on Saturday, Caroline O’Hanlon got Armagh up and running with a second minute point at the end of a patient move. 2020 TG4 Senior Players’ Player of the Year Mackin followed up with a neat score, before both she and O’Hanlon doubled their respective tallies to offer Armagh an early stranglehold on the contest.

Meath finally opened their account through a Niamh Gallogly point on the first-quarter mark and their deficit was further reduced when Emma Duggan found the target either side of a Mallon free.

Mallon and Mackin went on to add placed-ball efforts for the visitors, but with Maire O’Shaughnessy and Duggan splitting the uprights in fine style, Meath were just two points in arrears at 0-7 to 0-5 at the interval.

It was an initially tentative start to the second period from both teams, but the excellent Mackin brought the tie back to life by finishing superbly to the net off her reliable left boot seven minutes after the resumption. And while the Royals responded to this set-back with points from Aoibhin Cleary and Marion Farrelly (free), Mackin and Eve Lavery also raised white flags to keep Armagh in the driving seat.

Their chances of extending their winning run were given a further boost heading into the final-quarter as Mallon lashed home a second goal for the Ulster side via impressive approach work by Mackin.

This effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt and in spite of Duggan contributing her fourth point of the action, Emily Druse and Mallon (two) also found the range late on to put the seal on an emphatic Armagh victory.

 Scorers – Armagh: K Mallon 1-4 (0-2f), A Mackin 1-4 (0-1f), C O’Hanlon 0-2, E Druse, E Lavery 0-1 each.

Meath: E Duggan 0-4 (2f), M Farrelly 0-1 (f), N Gallogly, A Cleary, M O’Shaughnessy 0-1 each.

ARMAGH: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge, R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, E Lavery; A Mackin, L Kenny, K Mallon. Subs: C Doyle for Kenny (13), M O’Callaghan for Lavery (45), E O’Brien for Druse (56), M Lennon for McCoy (58), M Ferguson for Coleman (60).

 MEATH: M McGuirk; K Newe, A Sheridan, N Troy; N Gallogly, M.K. Lynch, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, S Melia; M Thynne, E Moyles, C Smyth; M Byrne, M Farrelly, E Duggan. Subs: C Lawlor for Newe (13), S Lynch for Farrelly (45), L Young for Smyth (50), T Foster for Thynne (56), S Ennis for Melia, R Casserly for Byrne (both 60).

 Referee: Eddie Cuthbert (Down).

Posted in Ladies GAA | Comments Off on LIDL National Football League Division One: Armagh V Meath – Ladiesgaelic.ie – February 18 2024

United Rugby Championship: Leinster V Benetton – The42.ie – February 17 2024

Leinster produce powerful second half against Benetton to retain URC top spot

Leo Cullen’s men registered 26 unanswered points after the restart to convincingly see off the challenge of their Italian visitors.

Leinster 47

Benetton 18

LEINSTER PRODUCED A powerful second-half display against Benetton at the RDS this afternoon to retain their spot at the summit of the United Rugby Championship table.

Leading 21-18 at the end of an entertaining first half of action, Leo Cullen’s men registered 26 unanswered points after the restart to convincingly see off the challenge of their Italian visitors.

On a day when debutant Henry McErlean delivered a solid performance at full-back, a brace of tries from Scott Penny and a Player of the Match display by Jamie Osborne were more than enough to lift the spirits of the 15,259 spectators in attendance at the Ballsbridge venue.

Two points adrift of Leinster coming into this game, Benetton immediately set out their stall in the contest. Less than two minutes were gone on the clock when Ignacio Mendy picked up possession on the right-wing and he proceeded to skip past the opposition cover for a breakthrough try.

Full-back Jacob Umaga – nephew of former All Blacks star Tana Umaga – comfortably slotted the conversion between the posts to give Benetton an early seven-point platform.

This was an early test for this Leinster side – who were playing in a competitive fixture for the first time since 20 January – but their response to falling behind was emphatic. After a 50/22 from the returning Osborne got the hosts back into enemy territory, openside flanker Penny drove over for his 31st try as a provincial player.

Playing for the first time since a URC clash with Munster at Aviva Stadium back on 25 November, Ross Byrne added the extras to get Leinster on level terms just past the 10-minute mark. This offered momentum to the hosts and they subsequently edged in front when Byrne’s half-back partner Luke McGrath sprinted through a gap at the heart of the Benetton defence for a converted score.

Interestingly, as part of URC’s Origin Round, the Leinster players were wearing the socks of their club and/or school for this game. Because of this, Byrne, Penny and McGrath were all decked out in the colours of their alma mater, St Michael’s College.

Outside centre Liam Turner was donning the socks of their rival school Blackrock College and he also got in on the scoring act on 34 minutes. An earlier penalty by Umaga had brought the gap down to four, but after latching onto a pass from midfielder partner Osborne, Turner showcased his pace and strength to crash over the whitewash.

While this helped Leinster to reinforce their authority, Mendy’s second try of the opening period brought Benetton back into contention. Despite being short of the target from his resulting bonus kick, Umaga knocked over a penalty from inside his own half to cut the Blues’ lead to just three points in time for the interval.

Although this left things delicately poised, a Leinster side with a bonus try in its sights were highly-motivated on the resumption. A couple of kicks from Ross Byrne – one of which was brilliantly caught by Tommy O’Brien – ensured they were camped inside the Benetton ‘22’ for an extended spell and lock Jason Jenkins eventually supplied the finishing touches underneath a slew of bodies on 43 minutes.

This score – once again supplemented by a Ross Byrne conversion – left Leinster on the cusp of claiming maximum points for the sixth time in their 2023/24 URC campaign.

Benetton did remain within touching distance heading into the final-quarter, but Leinster ultimately placed the outcome beyond doubt in the 65th minute. Having taken over from McGrath at scrum-half moments earlier, Ben Murphy (son of current Ireland U20s head coach Richie Murphy) was eager to make an impression.

He had already featured at senior level for Leinster on six occasions this season and after the ball broke free off an attacking scrum, he pounced on the loose ball and dotted down for his first try in professional club rugby.

Benetton were left severely deflated as a consequence of this latest effort and with replacement lock Brian Deeny powering over the line in advance of Penny’s second of the day in the closing moments, Leinster emerged as 29-point winners in the end.

Leinster scorers:

Tries – Scott Penny (2), Luke McGrath, Liam Turner, Jason Jenkins, Ben Murphy, Brian Deeny

Conversions – Ross Byrne [4 from 5], Sam Prendergast [2 from 2]

Benetton scorers:

Tries – Ignacio Mendy 2

Conversions – Jacob Umaga [1 from 2]

Penalties – Jacob Umaga [2 from 2]

LEINSTER: Henry McErlean; Tommy O’Brien (Ben Brownlee ’49), Liam Turner, Jamie Osborne, Rob Russell; Ross Byrne (Sam Prendergast ’70), Luke McGrath (Ben Murphy ’59); Jack Boyle (Ed Byrne ’47), Lee Barron (John McKee ’47), Thomas Clarkson (Michael Ala’alatoa ’47); Ross Molony, Jason Jenkins (Brian Deeny ’66); Will Connors (Rhys Ruddock ’59), Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

BENETTON: Jacob Umaga; Ignacio Mendy, Malakai Fekitoa, Marco Zanon (Filippo Drago ’70), Onisi Ratave; Tomas Albornoz (Leonardo Marin ’64), Andy Uren (Alessandro Garbisi ’55); Thomas Gallo (Federico Zani ’73), Siua Maile (Giacomo Nicotera ’47), Tiziano Pasquali (Filippo Alongi ’51); Gideon Koegelenberg, Eli Snyman; Giovanni Pettinelli (Alessandro Izekor ’47), Toa Halafaihi, Henry Time-Stowers (Riccardo Favretto ’51).

Referee: Hollie Davidson.

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on United Rugby Championship: Leinster V Benetton – The42.ie – February 17 2024

United Rugby Championship: Leinster V Benetton – The Irish Examiner (Online) – February 17 2024

Strong second half sees Leinster retain top spot over Benetton

Leading 21-18 at the end of an entertaining first half of the action, Leo Cullen’s men registered 26 unanswered points after the restart to convincingly see off the challenge of their Italian visitors.
DAIRE WALSH, RDS

United Rugby Championship

Leinster 47

Benetton 18

Leinster produced a powerful second half display against Benetton at the RDS this afternoon to retain their spot at the summit of the United Rugby Championship table.

Leading 21-18 at the end of an entertaining first half of the action, Leo Cullen’s men registered 26 unanswered points after the restart to convincingly see off the challenge of their Italian visitors.

Two points adrift of Leinster coming into this game, Benetton immediately set out their stall when Ignacio Mendy touched down for a breakthrough try with less than two minutes on the clock.

Full-back Jacob Umaga – nephew of former All Blacks star Tana Umaga – slotted over the conversion to give Benetton an early seven-point cushion, but Leinster’s response to falling behind was emphatic.

After a 50/22 from the returning Jamie Osborne got the hosts back into enemy territory, openside flanker Scott Penny drove over the line for his 31st try as a provincial player.

Playing for the first time since the URC clash against Munster at the nearby Aviva Stadium on November 25, Ross Byrne comfortably added the extras to get Leinster back on level terms.

This offered momentum to Leo Cullen’s men, who subsequently edged in front when Byrne’s half-back partner Luke McGrath sprinted through a gap at the heart of the Benetton defence for a converted score.

Even though a Umaga penalty brought the gap down to four, Leinster seemingly reinforced their authority when outside centre Liam Turner showcased his pace and strength to crash over the whitewash in the 34th minute.

Yet after Mendy got through on the right-flank for another try, Umaga knocked over a superb penalty from inside his own half to leave Leinster just three points to the good at the interval.

Although this left things delicately poised, a Leinster side with a bonus try in its sights were highly-motivated on the resumption. A couple of kicks from Ross Byrne – one of which was brilliantly caught by Tommy O’Brien – ensured they were camped inside the Benetton ‘22’ for an extended spell and lock Jason Jenkins eventually supplied the finishing touches underneath a slew of bodies on 43 minutes.

This score – once again supplemented by a Ross Byrne conversion – left Leinster on the cusp of claiming maximum points for the sixth time in their 2023/24 URC campaign.

Benetton remained within touching distance heading into the final-quarter, but Leinster ultimately placed the outcome beyond doubt in the 65th minute. After the ball broke free off an attacking scrum, Ben Murphy (son of current Ireland U20s head coach Richie Murphy) pounced on the loose ball and dotted down for his first try in a Leinster jersey.

Benetton were left severely deflated as a consequence of this latest effort and with replacement lock Brian Deeny powering over the line in advance of Penny’s second of the day in the closing moments, Leinster emerged as deserving 29-point winners in the end.

Scorers for Leinster: Tries – S Penny (2), L McGrath, L Turner, J Jenkins, B Murphy. B Deeny. Cons – R Byrne (4), S Prendergast (2).

Scorers for Benetton: Tries – I Mendy (2). Pens – J Umaga (2). Cons – J Umaga.

LEINSTER: H McErlean; T O’Brien, L Turner, J Osborne, R Russell; R Byrne, L McGrath; J Boyle, L Barron, T Clarkson; R Molony, J Jenkins; W Connors, S Penny, M Deegan.

Replacements: J McKee, E Byrne, M Ala’alatoa, B Deeny, R Ruddock, B Murphy, S Prendergast, B Brownlee.

BENETTON: J Umaga; I Mendy, M Fekitoa, M Zanon, O Ratave; T Albornoz, A Uren; T Gallo, S Maile, T Pasquali; G Koegelenberg, E Snyman; G Pettinelli, T Halafihi, H Time-Stowers.

Replacements: G Nicotera, F Zani, F Alongi, R Favretto, A Izekor, A Garbisi, L Marin, F Drago.

Referee: Hollie Davidson.

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on United Rugby Championship: Leinster V Benetton – The Irish Examiner (Online) – February 17 2024