Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

Chelsea and Leicester go head to head in the pick of todays Premier League games.

With Manchester United not in action until Monday, a win for the blues would see them move above the red devils into second.


They face a foxes side who’ve just broken a run of four games without a win in the league.

It’s a 3pm kick off at Stamford Bridge.

At the same time, Burnley go to Crystal Palace, Huddersfield entertain West Ham, Newcastle invite Swansea to St James’ Park, Southampton travel to Vicerage Road to face Watford, while West Brom have home advantage against Brighton.

In the late kick off, Tottenham host Everton at Wembley Stadium.

Jos Luhukay has claimed a point in his first game as Sheffield Wednesday boss, against his side’s biggest rivals.

They finished 0-0 in their derby at Sheffield United in the Championship.

Wednesday captain Glenn Loovens was sent off in the second half after receiving a second yellow card.

It’s understood the Scottish FA will begin formal talks with Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill – after agreeing to pay his half-a-million-pound release clause.

It’s thought Hampden bosses want to make him the best-paid Scotland manager ever.

They’ll offer him a four-year contract to succeed Gordon Strachan.

But the Irish FA still wants O’Neill to agree to a new deal with them until 2024.

It’s reported he turned down the Sunderland job earlier this season before it went to Chris Coleman.

RUGBY

Ulster host La Rochelle this afternoon in their penultimate game of the Champions Cup pool stage.

A win for the northern province would see them leapfrog their french opponents into first in Pool 1.

Connacht could seal their place in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup today with a win over Worcester Warriors.

Bath have been knocked off the top of Pool 5 in rugby union’s European Champions Cup.

Scarlets have gone to the summit with a 35-points-to-17 victory at The Rec.

GOLF

Europe will have to win the final session at the Eurasia Cup golf tomorrow – if they’ve any chance of retaining the trophy.

Thomas Bjorn’s side trail Asia by 6-and-a-half points to 5-and-a-half after the foursomes.

Four-time major golf champion and Ryder Cup star Rory McIlroy insists he’s healthy and ready for the new season – despite being diagnosed with a heart irregularity.

The Northern Irishman says it was picked up as part of a routine medical – and resulted from a viral infection 18 months ago.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he says he’ll need a yearly MRI scan to “keep on top” of it.

GAELIC GAMES

Offaly and Kilkenny get the days action underway when they meet in Tullamore.

The Faithful County and The Cats will go head to head for a place in the Walsh Cup Final.

Throw in at O’Connor Park is at 2 o’clock.

Cork and Clare will contest the McGrath Cup Final in Mallow.

The game gets underway at 4pm.

HORSE RACING

Willie Mullins bids to extend his impressive record in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2.10) at Punchestown today with Getabird, Carter McKay and Makitorix all flying the flag for the champion trainer in the seven-runner featured event.

Mullins has landed this Grade 2 contest six times in the last nine years including with subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners Mikael D’Haguenet in 2009, Vautour five years later and Douvan three years ago. Getabird has two bumper wins to his credit and returned from injury to make a winning debut over hurdles at the same venue last month. He looks the pick of the trio with Patrick Mullins booked to ride.

Gordon Elliott has never won this race before but has a brace of runners in the field including Mengli Khan, the mount of Davy Russell. He was leading still going well when he ran out through the wings of the second-last flight in the incident-packed Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Apparently none the worse for that mishap, he could also play a prominent role at the business end. The field is completed by the progressive High School Days from the Waterford yard of Henry De Bromhead and Top Othe Ra, trained in Goresbridge by Tom Mullins.

The Grade 3 Total Event Rental (Kildare) Novice Chase (1.00) is also worth €44,500 in value and has attracted a field of seven headed by Dounikos. His trainer Gordon Elliott is also represented by Mossback and The Storyteller while his rival Willie Mullins also has three runners declared – Arbre De Vie, Invitation Only and Koshari. The only other runner Mall Dini is trained in the west of Ireland by Pat Kelly and on form could well make his presence felt against the two super powers of Irish racing.
Padraig Roche has his first runner as a licensed trainer since taking over from his retired father Christy earlier this month when Steer Clear lines up in the 17-runner Sportinglife.com Maiden Hurdle (2.45).

The first of seven races at Punchestown gets underway at 12.25 and the going is currently soft to heavy.

The one shining light in Tracey Collins’ Curragh stables down through the past number of years has been Captain Joy, and last night, the nine-year-old won the 10th race of his career in the feature Sun Bets Race at Dundalk.

In winning the Fast-Track Qualifier, the Herb Stanley-owned grey booked his ticket to the All-Weather Championships final day at Lingfield, a meeting in which the gelding scored at in 2016.
Pat Smullen guided Captain Joy passed the winning line in front tonight, just under a length ahead of Beach Bar.

DARTS

The men’s semi-finals take place at the BDO World Darts Championship later.

After his stunning comeback victory over Jim Williams, title-holder Glen Durrant takes on fellow Englishman Scott Waites.

In the other last four tie, number two seed Mark McGeeney faces German qualifier Michael Unterbuchner.