Morning Sports Update

RUGBY

With Alby Mathewson missing through injury, Duncan Williams starts for Munster today in their opening Champions Cup Pool 2 clash away to Exeter.

Kick off at Sandy Park is at 3.15.


Mike O’Halloran previews

Meanwhile, international duo Jordi Murphy and Craig Gilroy return to Ulster’s starting fifteen for the visit of Leicester in Pool 4.

Kick off at Kingspan Stadium is at 5.30.

At the same time in that pool, Simon Zebo makes his European debut for Racing, starting at full-back for their game away to Scarlets.

Leinster began their defence of the Heineken Champions Cup with an eight-try rout of Wasps at a sold-out RDS.

James Lowe and Luke McGrath both crossed the whitewash twice in a 52-points to 3 bonus-point victory.

In the process, Leinster inflicted on Wasps’ their heaviest ever European defeat.

In Leinster’s Pool 1 this afternoon, Bath take on Toulouse with kick-off at 1.


Caolin Blade replaces the injured Kieran Marmion at scrum-half for Connacht’s opening Challenge Cup pool game.

Bordeaux visit the Sportsground where there’s a 3 o’clock kick off.


SOCCER

Martin O’Neill is hoping a change in formation will bring about a change in fortunes for his Republic of Ireland side.

Without a competitive win in a year, they welcome Denmark to the Aviva in the Nations League.

O’Neill has hinted at reverting to three at the back, with Matt Doherty likely to earn a first start at right-wing back in the absence of captain Seamus Coleman.

Kick off at the Aviva is at 7.45.


The Republic of Ireland under-19s will look to continue their winning start to their European Championship qualifying group this afternoon.

Tom Mohan has a full squad to choose from for the meeting with the Faroe Islands.

Kick off at Longford’s City Calling Stadium is at 3.

The same venue will see the Netherlands take on Bosnia Herzegovina from 7.

Pat Hoban scored his 27th goal of the season as champions Dundalk won 2-1 away to Waterford in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.

Elsewhere, Cork ran out 3-nil winners at home to Limerick.

While Daniel Carr scored with practically the final kick of the game as Shamrock Rovers claimed the spoils in the Dublin derby at Richmond Park, beating St. Pat’s 1-nil.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing to separate Drogheda United and Finn Harps in the First Division playoff.

They drew 1-apiece at United Park, and will reconvene at Finn Park next Friday for the second leg.


YOUTH OLYMPICS

Mona McSharry again narrowly missed out on a medal in Buenos Aires.

The Sligo swimmer finished just 7-hundredths of a second off bronze in the women’s 50-metre freestyle.


GOLF

Paul Dunne is best of the Irish at the halfway stage of the British Masters.

The defending champion finished day 2 on 1-under par.

The man to catch at Walton Heath is Eddie Pepperell on 8-under par.

MOTORSPORT

Jordan Hone has been nominated for this year’s Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver Award for his performances in July and August.

The 22 year-old from Claudy, Co Derry, drove his Opel Adam to victory in the Junior class of the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, taking 13th place overall. He also scored a class win in the Ulster International Rally three weeks later.

Earlier in the year, Jordan finished as runner up in the Junior section of the Donegal International Rally, less than two seconds behind the eventual winner after swapping places all day. He also took a Junior win in the Carlow Mini Stages Rally.

Jordan began rallying in 2013 at the age of 17, scoring a class win in his first ever event, and going on to take his class in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship. He was NI Junior Rally champion the following year, and won the Group N Production class in the Valvoline National Forestry series in 2017. He hopes to contest the British Rally Championship next year, as well as possibly some European events.

Five bi-monthly winners are selected from January-February, through to September-October, along with the highest placed eligible drivers from both the Junior Championship in the Triton Showers National series and the Junior category in the Valvoline National Forestry Championship, and a wildcard selection, as the award finalists.

The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award receives €50,000 worth of support to contest rallies nationally & internationally in 2019 along with the support of Billy Coleman co-ordinator, Sean McHugh, while the two runners-up will receive free entries into a number of MI permitted events in 2019, along with co-ordinator support.

RACING

It was a case of normal service being resumed at Dundalk with Michael Halford sending out a treble.

The first two legs of the treble were achieved with maiden winner Playa Del Puente and Luna’s Luck, successful in the first division of the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Handicap for Sri Lankan-based owner James Mathews. Both horses were ridden by Ronan Whelan.

Halford turned to apprentice title-leader Ben Coen in the secend division of the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Handicap and the young rider came up trumps aboard Ahlan Bil Zain.

The Martin Molony Listed Stakes (2.45) is the richest race down for decision at Limerick this afternoon where the first of eight races is due off at 1.05pm.

Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien is doubly represented with previous winners Sir Erec, who opened his account at the Curragh in August, and recent Naas maiden scorer Fightfortheroses. On official ratings they both need to find more improvement as the seven-runner field includes four contenders rated 102 and higher. The highest rated runner in the line up is Jim Bolger’s consistent Twilight Payment followed closely by Jessica Harrington’s The King who shaped well last time when a promising third in a Leopardstown Group 3 event won by this season’s Chester Dee Stakes hero Rostropovich.

Elsewhere on the card Gavin Cromwell’s Fuwairt, a winner at Cork on Wednesday, turns out again quickly in the hands of Kevin Manning in the Book Online At www.limerickraces.ie Race (4.40) where the locally-trained recent Gowran winner Drombeg Dream from Austin Leahy’s stable looks well treated on figures. Another recent winner reappearing quickly is Joe Murphy’s Insignia Of Rank in the Follow Limerick Racecourse On Facebook Munster Mile Handicap (2.10). He sluiced home over a furlong longer at Tipperary last Sunday but has been raised a dozen pounds since by the handicapper and faces ten rivals here.

The going at Limerick is good to yielding, yielding in places.

Jumping action takes place at Fairyhouse where the first of seven races gets underway at 2.00pm.

Waterford trainer Henry De Bromhead has enjoyed success before in the Winter Festival 1st & 2nd December Chase (2.00) and he has two of the six runners declared for this year’s renewal, Arvico Bleu and Capital Force.

De Bromhead won the corresponding race two years ago with Ordinary World while Gordon Elliott who sent out Shrapnel to win it in 2013 is also represented with sole challenger Hardline who carries the same Gigginstown House Stud colours of Arvico Bleu.

The Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase (3.10) has two notable veterans among the ten runners declared including the 14yo Toomcoole Lad from Dick Donohoe’s Gowran yard, the oldest runner on the card. Donore trainer Peter Maher also runs the 13yo Old Supporter.

Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins has failed to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Bumper (5.30) on this card in recent years but he has strong claims this time with Westport Lady who bids to step up on her debut runner-up effort at Ballinrobe under his son Patrick.

The going at Fairyhouse is good to firm, good in places.