Morning Sports Update

RUGBY

Tributes are being paid to Tommy Bowe after he announced he will retire from rugby at the end of the season.

The 33 year old Monaghan wing scored 30 tries in 69 appearances for Ireland, including the crucial score in the Grand Slam win in Cardiff in 2009.


Bowe made his last Test appearance at the same venue last March, breaking his ankle just moments after coming off the bench.

Former Ulster team mate Stephen Ferris says he has worked hard to overcome a number of injury setbacks

SOCCER

Manchester United made the most of Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat of the season by beating Stoke at Old Trafford last night.

Goals from Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku handed the Red Devils a comfortable 3-nil victory.

The win cuts City’s lead at the top of the table to 12 points, while United are now 3 points ahead of Liverpool in second place.

New Stoke manager Paul Lambert watched the game from the stands.

He takes charge of the team today, with the Potters still in the bottom three, a point from safety.

Jose Mourinho admitted that Henrik Mkhitaryan was left out of last night’s matchday squad because of speculation over his future.

The Armenian looks set to leave Old Trafford during this month’s transfer window.

United are the front runners to sign Alexis Sanchez, after Manchester City decided to pull out of the running for the Arsenal striker.

Chelsea are believed to have entered the race for the Chilean’s signature.

Mourinho appears calm about the situation

Manchester City await the winners of tonight’s F-A Cup third round replay between League two side Mansfield Town and Cardiff.

League One side Fleetwood take on Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

Another League One club, Shrewsbury, are at the London Stadium to face West Ham.

Sheffield United take on Carlisle United,

And Reading entertain Stevenage.

 TENNIS

Maria Sharapova has had a winning return to the Australian Open.

The former World Number One has beaten Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-4 in her first match at the Melbourne Grand Slam where she failed a drugs test in 2016.

Sharapova says is happy to have overcome another hurdle

There have also first round wins for Karolina Pliskova, Johanna Konta and Angelique Kerber this morning.

Novak Djokovic beat Donald Young in straight sets in his first match following a six month spell on the sidelines with an elbow injury.

Roger Federer begins the defence of his title against former British Number 2 Aljaz Bedene later today.


SNOOKER

Ronnie O’Sullivan begins his quest for an eighth Masters title this afternoon.

He faces Marco Fu in the first round at Alexandra Palace.

In the evening session, Barry Hawkins will face Kyren Wilson.

HORSE RACING

Ruby Walsh, out of action since fracturing his right tibia in a crashing fall from Let’s Dance at Punchestown on November 18, is expected to be fully fit in time for the Cheltenham Festival, according to chief Turf Club medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick.

McGoldrick said: “I haven’t spoken to Ruby since Christmas time but he’ll be back for Cheltenham. I’d be quite confident of that. I’m not so sure if he’ll be back any sooner than that and I’ll be guided by the specialists on the matter, but I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be back in time for Cheltenham.”

Danny Mullins would have been capitalising on Walsh’s misfortune by taking the mount on some Willie Mullins stars had he not been struck down with an injury of his own. Mullins has ridden 30 winners this season, ten of which have been recorded for his uncle and champion trainer Willie.

McGoldrick confirmed the jockey should make a full recovery from a wrist injury in time to return before the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, which begins on Saturday, February 3.

McGoldrick said: “Danny had a little procedure on his wrist and he’ll hopefully be back within about two weeks’ time.”

Jody McGarvey, who fractured his T8 vertebrae in a fall in September, was not long back from that injury before he injured his chest and neck in another fall at Limerick over the Christmas period. He is due for assessment in two weeks’ time.

McGoldrick added: “I saw Jody in Kilkenny two weeks ago and I’m due to see him for review in another fortnight. We will know more about his situation when I see him.”