Morning Sports Update

ATHLETICS

Kerry race walker Pat Murphy today competes in the Leinster Masters Indoor Championships.

His race in Athlone is due to begin around tea-time.


RUGBY

Ireland look to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive this afternoon when they host Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

Joe Schmidt makes four changes to the side who edged out France last week.

Dan Leavy makes his first international start coming in for the injured Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan makes his Six Nations debut at number 8, while there are also starts for Devon Toner and Jack McGrath.

The other game of the day pits defending champions England against Wales.

In the Pro 14, Leinster were unable to overtake Scarlets at the top of Conference B.

Edinburgh scored a late try to claim a 29-24 win over the blues, who remain two points off the top spot.

The Southern Kings were no match for Ulster, who ran in 9 tries against the South African side in a 59-10 win.

Connacht were 26-15 winners against Ospreys.

Conference A leaders Glasgow were held to a draw by Dragons.

There’s one Irish province in Pro 14 action this evening.

Munster look to close the gap between themselves and Conference A leaders Glasgow.

Munster face bottom side Zebre from 735 at Thomand Park.

The Irish Under-20’s claimed their first win of their Six Nations campaign last night.

Noel McNamara’s charges ran in 6 tries in a 38-34 bonus point victory over Italy.

Elsewhere, England defeated Wales 37-12.

SOCCER

The days Premier League action gets underway with a meeting of the fifth and sixth placed sides in the league.

Spurs welcome Arsenal to Wembley from 1230.

At 3, Stoke host Brighton, Burnley travel to Swansea, West Ham entertain Watford, and Crystal Palace go to Goodison Park to face Everton.

The late game is at the Etihad Stadium where Man City play host to Leicester City.

In the Championship it finished 1 goal apiece between Milwall and Cardiff City.

Cardiff took an early 1-0 lead through Junior Hoilett.

Lee Gregory equalised for the hosts five minutes shy of the break.

The Welsh side remain 4th in the league standings, while Milwall stay 14th.

Manchester United, Celtic and Cork City football clubs have each expressed their sadness at the passing of former player Liam Miller.

The Cork native passed away yesterday at the age of 36, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

President Michael D Higgins praised Miller’s achievements saying he “brought skill and passion to his games”.

Miller won his first cap for the Republic of Ireland in 2004, against the Czech Republic.

The midfielder went on to make 21 appearances for the national team, netting one goal on the international stage against Sweden in 2006.

He was also a part of the Celtic side who won the Scottish Premiership in 2004.

Places in the last 8 of the Scottish Cup are up for grabs today.

Cup holders Celtic get the days action underway at 1215 when they invite Partick Thistle to Celtic Park.

GAELIC GAMES

Four sides will each be aiming to book their place in the All-Ireland club Senior Hurling Championship Final later today.

Last years beaten finalists Na Piarsaigh face off against Slaughtneil in the first of todays semi finals.

Throw in at Parnell Park is at 2pm.

From 4, Defending champions Cuala face Liam Mellows at Semple Stadium.

In the Allianz Football League,

There’s one Division 1 game taking place tonight.

Dublin aim to maintain their 100% start in the competition when they host Donegal in Croke Park from 7pm.

WINTER OLYMPICS

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla has won the first gold medal of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

She was first in the skiathlon.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen is now the outright most decorated female Winter Olympian ever with 11 medals in total – having ended up with silver in that race.

RACING

Today’s jumping action at Naas has a total prizefund of €124,500 with the first of seven races due off at 1.35pm

A field of six mares face the starter for the BBA Ireland Ltd Opera Hat (Mares) Chase (3.55) over two miles. Two years ago Willie Mullins won this contest with Gitane Du Berlais and the Irish champion trainer is double-handed with Asthuria under Robbie Power and exciting French import Benie Des Dieux, a very easy winner of a Listed contest in Carlisle over further last time under David Mullins. He teams up again aboard the Rich and Susannah Ricci-owned challenger who holds entries in the OLBG Mares Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Gordon Elliott runs Dinaria Des Obeaux who registered her third win over fences in good style under Jack Kennedy at Thurles last time. It looks a race likely to be dominated by the two power houses of Irish jumps racing.

Mullins is surprisingly without a runner in the Naas RFC Rated Novice Hurdle (3.20) but his rival Elliott, who holds a €254,470 lead at the top of the trainers’ championship table, has two of the five runners declared with Pete So High looking the stable pick also in the capable hands of Jack Kennedy.

The going at Naas is soft to heavy with heavy rain forecast before and during racing.

GOLF

Shane Lowry is the best-placed Irish man heading into day 3 of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The Offaly native is 3 under for the tournment after carding a second round 73.

Rory McIlroy is in danger of missing the cut. He shot a 3-over 74 which leaves him at 1 under and tied for 87th.

Paul Dunne is a shot behind McIlroy.

The rest of the Irish contongent – Seamus Power, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington are on respective scores of 1 over, 7 over and 8 over par.

Two time winner Dustin Johnson shares the lead with Beau Hossler on 12 under.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth is 7 stroke off the pace.

England’s Lee Westwood had a terrible third round to miss out on reaching the final day of golf’s World Super 6 in Perth.

He shot a 6-over-par round, when he’d started the day tied for first.

That meant he dropped to 2-under – and out of the top 24 – which is what was needed to qualify for the final day.

Thailand’s Prom Meesawat leads the way.

Tomorrow switches to match play, with five rounds of six hole knockout matches.