Thursday Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER

The World Cup kicks off this afternoon with the hosts Russia playing Saudi Arabia.

It will be the first of 64 games, between 32 nations held in 12 venues across 11 cities over the next 32 days.



Arsenal will host Manchester City in their first Premier League game under Unia Emery.

The fixtures for the new season have been released and they handed Arsene Wenger’s replacement a baptism of fire.

The Gunners will host the defending champions in the opening round and then take on London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United will start at home to Leicester, Liverpool will welcome West Ham to Anfield and Tottenham will travel to Newcastle.

Wolverhampton Wanderers will begin life back in the top flight at home to Everton.

The other promoted sides Cardiff and Fulham will be away to Bournemouth and at home to Crystal Palace.

RUGBY

Sean Cronin and Jacob Stockdale have been left out of the Irish squad for Saturday’s second test against Australia in Melbourne.

Munster hooker Niall Scanell and wing Andrew Conway were surprise inclusions in a side that see eight changes from that which lost to the Wallabies in Brisbane.

Johnny Sexton, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose are among those who have been recalled.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says Scanell’s inclusion is intended to improve the scrum

GOLF

Rory McIlroy resumes his quest to win a first major since 2014 at the U-S Open in New York this afternoon.

The Ulsterman will tee off alongside Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson, just after 1 o’clock

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are among the later starters.

Tiger Woods says this time last year he had no expectations about the possibility of playing another US Open golf tournament.

He’d only just been given the go-ahead to walk again last summer after another back operation.

Woods will be going for a 15th “major” title when the event starts in New York.

RACING

There is an eight-race card at Leopardstown this evening where the first is off at 6.00.

In the UK they run at:
Newbury, Good-to-firm; good in places – 1.20
Nottingham, Good-to-firm; good in places – 1.40
Yarmouth, Good-to-firm – 2.00
Uttoxeter, Good; Good-to-firm in places – 6.10
Haydock, Good-to-firm – 6.20