Morning Sports Update

GAELIC GAMES

Dublin’s quest for a ninth Leinster title in a row will begin with a quarter final against either Louth or Wexford.

A potential semi-final will one of Kildare, Longford or Wicklow will follow.


The draws for the 2019 Championship were made last night.

James Horan’s first Championship game back in charge of Mayo will be away to New York, with a semi-final against either Leitrim or Roscommon in prospect.

Galway’s defence of their provincial crown begins against London, with Sligo lying in wait in the semi-finals.

2018’s beaten All Ireland finalists Tyrone face a long road back to Croke Park – they have an Ulster preliminary round meeting with Derry, before a potential quarter final with Antrim.

Mickey Harte’s side could face reigning Ulster champions Donegal in the semi-finals.

Donegal first must see off Fermanagh in the quarter finals.

RUGBY

Leinster begin their defence of the Heineken Champions Cup this evening.

Head coach Leo Cullen has recalled his heavy artillery for the visit of Wasps to the RDS.

With Jamison Gibson-Park missing out through injury, James Lowe is able to start on the wing, with Scott Fardy on the bench.

The return of Jonathan Sexton at out-half is one of nine changes made to the side from last weekend’s Pro 14 win over Munster.

Cullen has been assessing the threats posed by the visitors

Kick off is at 7.45.

SOCCER

Gareth Bale looks set to miss Wales’ match against the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday.

The Real Madrid star sat out their 4-1 defeat to Spain in Cardiff last night and after the game manager Ryan Giggs revealed that Bale is suffering from ‘muscle fatigue’.

Giggs added that the forward is ‘struggling’ and that they’ll decide in the ‘next couple of days’ as to whether he’ll make the game in Dublin

Fresh from being crowned SSE Airtricity Premier Division champions, Dundalk are on the road tonight.

Stephen Kenny’s side head for the R-S-C where they take on a Waterford side now assured of European football for next season.

Runners-up Cork City play host to a Limerick side readying themselves for the promotion-relegation playoff.

While Shamrock Rovers travel to St. Pat’s in a Dublin dar-bee.

The latest stage of the First Division playoffs get underway tonight.

Drogheda United welcome Finn Harps to United Park for the first leg, with kick off at 7.45.


GOLF

Paul Dunne leads the Irish charge on day 2 of the British Masters.

The defending champion tees off from 2-under par, and is three adrift of the leading trio of Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell at Walton Heath.

Padraig Harrington tees off from 1-over today, while Shane Lowry is 3-over.


YOUTH OLYMPICS

Less than 48-hours removed from winning Ireland’s first medal at Buenos Aires 2018, Niamh Coyne returns to the pool today.

The Tallaght swimmer goes in the heats of the women’s 200-metre breaststroke.

Last night Mona McSharry qualified for tonight’s final of the 50-metre freestyle.

The Sligo swimmer set a new Irish record of 25-point-4-2 seconds in finishing second in her semi-final.

Later Emma Slevin competes in the final of the women’s all round gymnastics.

While Miranda Tcheutchoua from Lusk is Ireland’s representative in the women’s hammer.


CYCLING

Sam Bennett takes a ten-second lead into today’s fourth stage of the Tour of Turkey.

The Irish rider won his second consecutive stage yesterday in yet another sprint finish, but faces a tougher challenge today.

The finish to Selcuk sees the peloton face into a climb.


RACING

There’s an eight-race card on the all-weather track at Dundalk this evening, with the first going to post at 5.30.

Meanwhile, there’s a seven-race card at Downpatrick this afternoon with the first off at 2.

There’s plenty of interesting jumps races at Downpatrick to look forward to, not least the JP Corry Building Suppliers Hurdle (4.15), where Willie Mullins’ Chambord Du Lys is expected to go off a short-priced favourite.

Gordon Elliott also runs Silver Star, the mount of Davy Russell, and Commentariolus, who will be ridden by Keith Donoghue, in the five-runner contest.

Racing at Downpatrick begins on Friday at 2.00pm with the Molson Coors Maiden Hurdle where Noel Meade’s Free Ranger looks to have obvious claims of getting a deserved success under his belt.

The ground at Downpatrick is good.

Not many Listed races have evaded the clutches of Aidan O’Brien but Dundalk’s Al Basti Equiworld Carlingford Stakes (8.30) is one of them.

That could well change as Curly, the joint top-rated contender in the seven-runner line-up, looks a strong Ballydoyle representative in a contest first run in 2007.

There has been one British-trained winner in the race’s short history and Newmarket-based Ed Dunlop bids to double that tally with Global Giant.

The colt has strong credentials after finishing second in a Group 3 over course and distance on his latest start.

No trainer has a better record at Dundalk than Michael Halford and, however, his Massif Central has a bit to find after being beaten more than three lengths by Global Giant in that Group 3 two weeks ago.

Joseph O’Brien secured an important Listed success for Ship Of Dreams at Cork during the week is represented by Damselfly in this while Fozzy Stack runs Wishing Star.

Dermot Weld’s unbeaten Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt Mutaabeq, whose wins were achieved at Ballinrobe and Sligo, is another interesting runner having his first start on the surface, and the Willie McCreery-trained Mazzuri completes the line-up.

Dundalk begins at 5.30pm and the surface is standard.

Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore have scaled many peaks in racing but attention turns to The Everest on Saturday (6.15am BST, live on At The Races) when July Cup winner US Navy Flag tackles the richest turf race in the world at Randwick in Sydney, Australia.

US Navy Flag will be the first European-trained horse to contest the $13m (£7m/€8m) race but O’Brien’s hopes of snaring the second running of the lucrative sprint have been dampened somewhat by the rain.

O’Brien said: “US Navy Flag travelled over well and the boys who went with him are happy with him.

“He has a good draw [in three] but the likelihood of soft ground is a concern as he prefers it good or quicker.”

US Navy Flag, who this time last year was winning the Dewhurst at Newmarket, has won on yielding and good to soft but floundered in heavy ground at Leopardstown on his return this year, finishing last of four, beaten 15 lengths, behind stablemate Gustav Klimt.

Since then he has run only on good or good to firm ground, saving his best for last time when he dropped back to six furlongs to land the July Cup under Ryan Moore, who will be in the saddle again over the same trip.

US Navy Flag on Thursday was a best-priced 8-1 with British and Irish bookmakers. The market was headed by last year’s winner Redzel, along with Vega Magic and Trapeze Artist, who are 6-1 co-favourites with several firms.