Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

Christian Eriksen is back for Tottenham Hotspurs’ trip to Huddersfield in the Premier League this lunchtime.

The Danish playmaker sat out the midweek Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia through illness.

Kick-off at the John Smith’s Stadium is at half-twelve.

Manchester United can move three-points clear at the top of the table if they beat Crystal Palace at Old Trafford this afternoon.

Palace prop up the table with no points from their first six games.

That’s one of five 3 o’clock kick-offs.

Sixth place Watford go to West Brom, Bournemouth host Leicester, Stoke face Southampton and West Ham go up against Swansea.

The evening game sees Chelsea host Manchester City at half-five.

Chelsea are without the suspended David Luiz but playmaker Eden Hazard’s expected to start his first league game this year.

City will be without Sergio Aguero after the striker suffered rib injuries in a car crash on Thursday.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been impressed by their opponents’ start to the season

Cork City are into their third successive FAI Cup Final.

Garry Buckley kept the Leesiders chances of a domestic double alive, with his 14th-minute strike handing them a 1-nil win over Limerick at Turner’s Cross.

The League of Ireland Premier Division leaders await the winners of Sunday’s second semi-final between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers

Manager John Caulfield says his players fought for the victory

Drogheda have been relegated to the First Division of the Airtricity League next season – following a 2-1 loss at Derry last night.

The victory keeps Derry in contention to qualify for the Europa League.

RUGBY

Munster look to bounce back from their loss to Glasgow last week when they host the Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park this lunchtime.

Lions players Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and C-J Stander are all back in the Reds team.

Full-back Andrew Conway says they need to put last week’s defeat behind them

Kick-off is at half-one.

Ulster have handed hooker John Andrew his first start of the season for their clash with Zebre in Parma this afternoon.

John Cooney, Christian Lealiifano, Iain Henderson and Jean Deysel also come into Les Kiss’ team for the twenty-five-to-three kick-off.

Leinster remain in second place in Conference B of rugby’s Guinness PRO-14 this morning.

The Blues laboured to a 21-13 victory against Edinburgh at the R-D-S last night.

Jamison Gibson-Park, Jordi Murphy and Joey Carbery got the tries as Leinster made it four wins from five games.

Head-coach Leo Cullen says the visitors made it difficult

Connacht’s poor start to the season continued with a 36-27 defeat to reigning champions Scarlets in Wales.

Cian Kelleher scored two tries and Jack Carty and Tiernan O’Halloran also crossed the whitewash for a Connacht side that have just one win from five.

Speaking to Galway Bay FM, Connacht head-coach Kieran Keane felt his team let a chance slip

Former Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll has praised his former team-mate Sean O’Brien for his honesty about this summer’s tour of New Zealand but feels it may have been an error to criticise the coaching staff in public.

Leinster and Ireland flanker O’Brien had expressed his belief last week that the Lions should have won the series against the All-Blacks and said the coaching staff – particularly Rob Howly – need to take a large share of the blame.

O’Driscoll is not sure if airing the issues in the open was the right move by the ‘Tullow Tank’

GAELIC GAMES

The G-A-A has their first Special Congress in 11-years today.

Delegates are set to debate motions to radically change the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.

The Liam McCarthy could be contested by just 10 counties if a Central Council motion is passed.

GOLF

Tyrrell Hatton is the man to catch into today’s third round at the British Masters golf.

He’s 12-under after two rounds.

Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Paul Dunne will all tee off from 6-under with Rory McIlroy 4-under into today.

HORSE RACING

The Grade 2 PWC Champion Chase (4.00) is the feature event on a cracking seven-race jumping card at Gowran Park on Saturday where the first is due off at 1.45pm.

A field of five face the starter in the big race of the day won before by the likes of Kicking King in 2004 and the brilliant Sizing Europe for four consecutive years from 2011 to 2014. Last years winner Ballycasey returns to defend his crown with Paul Townend on board the 10yo this time as Ruby Walsh has elected to side with stable companion Shaneshill. Gigginstown supplied the second and third home 12 months ago and they are doubly-represented again this time with Balko Des Flos, trained by Henry de Bromhead and partnered by Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott’s representative A Toi Phil under Jack Kennedy. The quintet is completed with front runner Kylecrue, trained in Templemore by John Ryan, who looks up against it on figures but should relish the testing underfoot conditions.

The Kilkenny Racing Festival Handicap Hurdle (3.25) over 3m looks a competitive renewal with, as expected, several big yards represented among the 14 runners declared. Willie Mullins hasn’t won this race since Red Vinto obliged under Ruby Walsh back in 2008. The champion trainer has three runners in the field including Ben Button who registered his hat trick of wins this term when scoring at Listowel last time under Ruby Walsh. The champion rider is on board again with Paul Townend teaming up with recent narrow Clonmel winner Blixt and Brian Hayes booked for Tay Lane who proved a disappointing favourite in a mares handicap hurdle on similar ground at Ballinrobe last week.

The going at Gowran is heavy.

A maximum field of 35, the biggest for any flat race in Britain this year will contest one of the legendary handicaps of the season, the Cambridgeshire over 1 mile and 1 furlong at Newmarket.

Thundering Blue, ridden by Champion Jockey Jim Crowley is sure to start as favourite but there are any number of horses with chances.

They include Naval Warfare, drawn in stall 3 and one of two in the race trained by Andrew Balding who’ll be on many shortlists.

His jockey is Kerry’s Oisin Murphy

It was a fantastic Friday for Willie Mullins who had a treble at Gowran Park. Sharjah, a recruit from France who was sent off the even-money favourite, got the ball rolling in the Paulstown Maiden Hurdle as he scored by five lengths under Ruby Walsh. It was even easier for Walsh on Mystic Theatre in the feature Pat Walsh Memorial Irish EBF Mares Hurdle as she made all and won by ten lengths. She was returned the 2-5 favourite. The treble was completed in the concluding Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mucklemeg Mares Flat Race by Ainsi Va La Vie who scored by two lengths under Patrick Mullins at odds of 5-4.

Last seen finishing just over two lengths behind Brametot when fifth in the French Derby, the Aidan O’Brien-trained War Decree returned from a mini mid-season break to turn what looked like a competitive Group 3 Diamond Stakes at Dundalk into little more than an exercise gallop.

War Decree never came out of second gear under Donnacha O’Brien as the pair brushed aside Absolute Blast by a little over two lengths, with the 7-4 favourite Abingdon a further length behind in third.

It was a performance that suggested there will be bigger things to come at the end of a season that hasn’t quite gone to plan for the colt.