Morning Sports Update

RUGBY

Munster and Ulster are both in Heineken Champions Cup action this afternoon.

Munster have an all-new front row for the visit of Gloucester to Thomond Park in Pool 2.


Chris Cloete’s also been replaced at openside by Tommy O’Donnell for a game that kicks off at 1.

Mike O’Halloran previews

Ulster are without goal-kicking scrum-half John Cooney for their Pool 4 trip to Racing.

Simon Zebo starts at full-back for the Parisian side, and kick off in the French capital is at 5.30.

Leicester went top in Pool 4 last night with a 45-27 bonus point win at home to Scarlets.

And Caolin Blade captains a youthful Connacht side who are away to Sale in Pool 3 of the Challenge Cup.

The other game in that Pool is an all-French affair with Bordeaux entertaining Perpignan (PR: Pare-pin-yon).

SOCCER

It was a night of records at Oriel Park last night, as Dundalk lifted the SSE Airtricity Premier Division trophy.

Pat Hoban’s brace in a 5-nil thrashing of Sligo saw him equal Brendan Bradley’s top flight record of 29-goals.

On 86-points, Dundalk surpassed Bohemians’ record of most points in a Premier Division season.

Elsewhere last night, there were wins for Cork City, Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and St. Pat’s.

Meanwhile, Finn Harps will face Limerick in the promotion/relegation playoff.

Harps’ 2-nil win over Drogheda last night secured a 3-1 aggregate victory for them, and consigns Drogs to another year in the First Division.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits he’s been wounded by recent criticism.

He brings his side to his old haunt of Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the Premier League’s lunchtime encounter.

Chelsea are still unbeaten this season, while United have just one win from their last five-games and have lost on 8 of their last 13 trips to London.

Elsewhere today, Kevin de Bruyne should return for Manchester City’s meeting with Burnley.

Tottenham make the trip across London to face West Ham.

In-form Bournemouth entertain south coast rivals Southampton,

Wolves face Watford,

Bottom side Cardiff entertain fellow strugglers Fulham

Newcastle welcome former manager Chris Hughton and Brighton to St. James’s Park.

And in the late kick-off, Liverpool are without midfielder Naby Keita for the trip to Huddersfield.

GOLF

There’s plenty of catching up to do at the Andalucia Masters in Valderrama.

It may be day 3 of the tournament, but the majority of second rounds need to be completed, as the weather wrought havoc on the last two-days’ play.

Ashley Chesters leads on 5-under, and is yet to begin his second round, as is Shane Lowry on 2-under.

Gavin Moynihan begins the day on level par, and Padraig Harrington 1-over.

GAELIC GAMES

There’s a novel pairing in tonight’s Mayo Senior Football final.

Ballintubber gun for a fourth county title, when they face a Breaffy side yet to win their first.

Throw-in at MacHale Park is at 8.

Meanwhile, 13 different counties are represented in the Ireland squad that faces Scotland in the Hurling-Shinty International Test this afternoon.

Ireland are looking to do better than last year’s three-point loss to the Scots, and throw-in in Inverness is at 2.

BASKETBALL

Ireland’s Aidan Harris Igiehon has made headlines across the USA as he announced his commitment to the University of Louisville for next year.

The Dublin Lions star, who is known Stateside as ‘The Irish Hulk’ announced the news on a live stream from his high school, Lawrence Woodmere Academy, where his mother was also linked in via Skype from Dublin.

The news will see Aidan become the first Irish player to play in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) and will play home games with the Louisville Cardinals in the famous KFC Yum Center which has a capacity of over 22,000.

The 6’10 player will be eligible for the NBA draft in 2020.

Speaking live at the announcement Aidan stated: “When I first came to the United States, I didn’t imagine myself being here… This is a decision that will potentially change my life and my family’s life forever. Honestly speaking, this is the hardest decision I have ever made.”

Also speaking about the news, Aidan’s Dublin Lions coach Rob White said: “We are all delighted that Aidan is fortunate enough to have a selection of these great schools. Aidan hasn’t stopped working since the day he joined Lions and went to the USA. He fully deserves this great moment and the many more to come. Dublin Lions are very proud and we look forward to watching him progress.”

RACING

There’s an eight-race card at Leopardstown this afternoon where the first is off at 1.35.

Nearly 5-million euro in prize money is on offer on British Champions Day at Ascot.

The first of a lucrative six-race card goes to post at 1.25.

A unique Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey has attracted the attention of plenty of Irish trainers on Saturday evening with Gordon Elliott sending over Jury Duty and Clarcam.

The American Grand National is unusual because it is a hurdle contest and run over two miles and five furlongs, which is rather different to the test 40 runners famously face at Aintree every April.

Jury Duty, third behind Clarcam in the Galway Plate in August, will have the services of Robbie Power, and the jockey is looking forward to the ride, saying on his BoyleSports blog: “Gordon has had this plan hatched since Jury Duty was a good third in the Galway Plate so hopefully it comes to fruition. He’s got a massive chance. He’s a horse who likes good ground, which is what he’ll get in America. It’ll be a bit sharper than some tracks in Ireland and Ross Geraghty, who has been riding in America for the last number of years, is going to walk the course with me and give me some first-hand information.”

There is more Irish interest in the shape of the Emmet Mullins-trained Tornado Watch.

The race is due off at 9.20pm on Saturday and is live on Attheraces.

Darren Bunyan has never been afraid to tell the world how good his Hit The Bid is and tonight the stable star did the talking for the Curragh trainer when landing the Al Basti Equiworld Mercury Stakes at Dundalk.

Ridden by Chris Hayes, Hit The Bid held off the challenge of British raider Encore D’Or to win by just under a length. He was returned a 4-1 chance.

Rathoath-based Dermot McLoughlin sent out Arlecchino’s Rock to record a shock 25-1 winner of the Crowne Palza Leading Trainers and Jockeys Championship Handicap at Dundalk.

Off a very low rating, the gelding ran on well under Shane Foley.

Joseph O’Brien, last year’s Winter Series Champion at Dundalk, recorded a quick double at the track with Eagle Song and King’s Field respectively.

After Eagle Song won the nursery under Shane Crosse, King’s Field followed up for the stable in the following seven furlong handicap under Donnacha O’Brien.