Morning Sports Update

RUGBY

Munster and Ulster are both one win away from a spot in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup.

Munster are first up at 1pm – they host Castres at Thomond Park with a one point lead at the top of Pool 4.


A win of any kind will be enough for the Reds thanks to their head-to-head record with closest challengers Racing 92.

Munster are no strangers to big games in Europe, and scrum-half Conor Murray says it’s important they remain focussed at all times

Then attention turns to the Ricoh Arena where Ulster have a tough assignment away to Wasps who also have an outside chance of reaching the last eight.

Kick off there is at 3.15.


SOCCER

Marco Silva has been sacked as manager of Watford after less than 8 months in charge.

The side suffered their 8th defeat in 11 games in yesterday’s loss at Leicester, but still sit in 10th place in the Premier League after a brilliant start to the season.

In a statement the Watford board have laid the blame on Everton for the decision, saying an “unwarranted approach” for Silva earlier in the season caused a “significant deterioration” in results.

They also insist the club would have continued to prosper under Silva if it weren’t for that approach, and they will aim to appoint his successor as quickly as possible.

Watford fan John O’Sullivan

It’s as-you-were with the top two both winning in the Premier League.

Manchester United briefly cut the gap on the leaders to 9 points with a 1-0 victory away to Burnley.

But Manchester City re-established their advantage – winning 3-1 at home to Newcastle in the late game.

There’s just the one game today in the Premier League.

Struggling Southampton play host to Champions League chasing Tottenham Hotspur from 4.

SNOOKER

Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen is one game away from the biggest win of his career.

He takes on Kyren Wilson of England in the final of the Masters at Alexandra Palace in London

It’s the first time Allen has reached the final of a Triple Crown event.

The afternoon session begins at 1pm.

TENNIS

Britain’s Kyle Edmund is into his first ever grand slam quarter-final.

He came back from a set down to beat Italian Andreas Seppi 6-7 7-5 6-2 6-3 – and seal his place in the last-eight of the Australian Open.

World number one Rafael Nadal is also through after a four set win over Diego Schwartzman.

Women’s number two Caroline Wozniacki eased past Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3 6-love.


HORSE RACING

Five runners face starter for the €45,000 Horse And Jockey Kinloch Brae Chase (2.50), the feature event on a seven-race Sunday card at Thurles beginning at 1.20pm.

This race was won 12 months ago by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John after Don Cossack won it in 2015 and also the following year before he too landed the big one afterwards at the Cheltenham Festival.

Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins are responsible for the two market leaders, Elliott sending out A Toi Phil with Mullins represented by American Tom. Both runners are vying for favouritism with Moone trainer Jessica Harrington responsible for the third favourite Woodland Opera, the mount of last season’s Gold Cup winning rider Robbie Power.

The biggest field of the afternoon is the opening www.thurlesraces.ie Maiden Hurdle (1.20) with 18 runners and three reserves declared. The Jessica Harrington-trained Jetez has competed in decent company in all his previous three outings over hurdles and deserves a winning turn but won’t have it easy with Gordon Elliot and champion trainer Willie Mullins responsible for four runners between them.

The W.T. O’ Grady Memorial EBF Novice Hurdle (1.50) has attracted a field of eight including two runners from the Willie Mullins yard with Punchestown winner Burrows Saint the stable pick under Paul Townend. He is joined by stable companion Sympa Des Flos, the mount of David Mullins, while Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell team up with Dortmund Park owned by Gigginstown House Stud.

Punters will be treated to a cracking concluding Arctic Tack Stud Hunters Chase (4.20) with Gilgamboa from the Enda Bolger yard clashing with the Alan Fleming-trained Foxrock while earlier Dinaria Des Obeaux receives weight from her seven rivals in the Grade 2 Coolmore NH Sires Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase (3.20) bidding to provide her trainer Gordon Elliott with his first win in the 2m4f race.

The going at Thurles is soft to heavy.