Lunchtime Sports Update

RUGBY

Joey Carbery and Conor Murray have been paired together in a Munster starting team for the first time.

Both are included in the first 15 for this Sunday’s meeting with Castres in the Heineken Champions Cup.


A neck injury for Murray has kept the pair apart so far this season, with Carbery returning to the starting side this week.

He’s among two changes from last week’s win against Edinburgh, with CJ Stander coming into the back row.

Andrew Conway and Mike Haley have both been passed fit after carrying knocks into the week.


Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has welcomed a host of his international stars back for their Pool 1 visit to Bath.

14 of the starting side have been capped by Ireland, with Jame Lowe the exception on the left wing.

Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy are among those who start in the pack, with Leavy named at the unfamiliar position of number 8.

Recently crowned World Played of the Year Johnny Sexton returns in the half backs to partner Luke McGrath, while Garry Ringrose, Jordan Larmour and Rob Kearney also feature.


Connacht are boosted by the return of Irish internationals Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux for the European Challenge Cup clash with Perpignan in The Sportsground on Saturday.

Aki forms a midfield partnership with 22 year old Academy player Kieran Joyce who is set to make his debut.

Bealham returns to the front row sees him line up alongside hooker Dave Heffernan who captains the side and loosehead Peter McCabe.

Second row Joe Maksymiw comes in for his first start alongside Quinn Roux.

Ulster can rejuvenate their quarter final bid this evening, but they face a stiff challenge against their Pool 4 rivals the Scarlets.

The Welsh side have lost their opening two games in the pool, and anything less than a win will likely end their hopes of progression.

Kick off in Llaneli is at 7.45

HOCKEY

Ireland will be hoping their first World Cup appearance in 28 years doesn’t end this afternoon.

They take on England in their final group game, knowing a draw will be enough to continue their journey.

Should they avoid defeat, they will be assured of a place in the Crossover stage, against either France or New Zealand.

SOCCER

Jim McGuinness is to continue his soccer career in the USA.

The former Donegal All-Ireland winning boss has been given his first role in management, signing a three year contract with the Charlotte Independence, who play in the United Soccer League.

Sligo Rovers have confirmed the signing of Johnny Dunleavy from Cork City.

The defender ends a decorated six year stay on Leeside to become Liam Buckley’s latest recruit in the North West.

Aston Villa will climb into the playoff spots tonight in the Championship, if they can win away to third place West Brom

Kick off at the Hawthorns is at 8.

SNOOKER

Mark Allen is in quarter final action at the UK Championship this evening.

The Antrim man takes on Stephen Maguire in the evening session in York.

RACING

Presenting Percy, current 5/1 ante post favourite for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup next March, was a notable absentee from Friday morning declarations for Sunday’s John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.

His Craughwell-based trainer Pat Kelly had nominated this Grade One contest as a starting point for the seven-year-old, who shot to the head of the Gold Cup market after landing the RSA Chase at the Festival last March. He is one of 32 entries for the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.

The 20th running of the race on Sunday has still attracted a quality field of five individual Grade 1 winners headed by Henry de Bromhead’s Balko Des Flos, winner of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Willie Mullins’ Min, runner-up to Altior in the Champion Chase last term, is making his seasonal reappearance along with Joseph O’Brien’s Edwulf, winner of the Irish Gold Cup last February, while Gordon Elliott is doubly represented with The Storyteller and Shattered Love, both successful at Cheltenham last March.

There’s an eight-race card under the lights at Dundalk later.

The first goes to post at 5.30.