Morning Sports Update

RUGBY

Three of the four Irish provinces are looking to seal progress to the next phase of European competition today.

Captain Peter O’Mahony has been deemed fit enough to start Munster’s final Pool 2 encounter with Exeter at Thomond Park.

Kick off this evening in Limerick is at 5.30.

Edinburgh’s 19-10 win over Montpellier last night means Munster can’t secure a home quarter final.

That Edinburgh win also means Leinster are guaranteed a quarter final spot.

Mike O’Halloran looks ahead to Munster v Exeter

A losing bonus point for Ulster away to Leicester in Pool 4 is enough guarantee them a quarter final berth this afternoon.

And Connacht need a win away to Bordeaux in order to secure a Challenge Cup quarter final.


GAELIC GAMES

Ger Egan last night kicked 1-5 to secure a first O’Byrne Cup in 31-years for Westmeath.

Jack Cooney’s side were 1-12 to 10-point winners over a vastly under-strength Dublin at Parnell Park.

Tyrone are looking to secure a record-setting 16th McKenna Cup title this evening.

Mickey Harte’s side face Armagh at the Athletic Grounds from 7.30.

SOCCER

Liverpool can re-establish a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League today.

They welcome their former manager Roy Hodsgon and Crystal Palace to Anfield.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope to guide Manchester United to a seventh straight win under his stewardship when Brighton visit Old Trafford.

Amid talk of a move to China, Marko Arnautovic has been left out of West Ham’s squad for their trip to Bournemouth.

Newcastle take on Cardiff,

Southampton face Everton

And Burnley go to Watford.

The early kick-off sees Wolves entertain Leicester.

And the late start is the all London meeting of Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates.


Martin O’Neill takes charge of his first game as Nottingham Forest manager later as they face Bristol City in the Championship.

It sees O’Neill return to the club where he was part of the squad that won the old First Division and two European Cups under Brian Clough.

Norwich City have gone second in the SkyBet Championship.

The Canaries were 3-1 winners at home to Birmingham City.

RACING

Following a three-day break, jumping action resumes in Ireland Ttoday with a seven-race card at Navan starting at 12.30pm.

The €50,000 Navan Handicap Hurdle (1.35) is the richest race down for decision and has attracted a field of 14, including last year’s winner Hareth from the shrewd Ballingarry, Co Limerick yard of Charles Byrnes. He obliged at odds of 8/1 12 months ago when rated 5lbs lower but he faces some stiff opposition including the progressive Ronald Pump from Matthew Smith’s Kilmessan stable, also declared for the BetVictor W. T. O’Grady Memorial EBF Novice Hurdle at Thurles on Sunday.

Numerically, Cullentra House maestro Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand with three runners declared including two owned by Gigginstown, notably Woods Wells and the mount of the In-form Jack Kennedy.

Racing opens with the five-runner 2019 Navan Membership Rated Novice Hurdle (12.30) headed by the unbeaten Galvin owned by Ronnie Bartlett and ridden by Davy Russell. The Gordon Elliott-trained three-time winner opened his account over hurdles at Perth last August and is joined by stable companion Whoshotthesherrif who also scored overseas on his last start in Ayr and is partnered here also by Jack Kennedy.

Biggest field of the day is the 30 runner www.navanracecourse.ie Maiden Hurdle (1.00) and includes Face The Facts, the only runner on the card trained by Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins.

The going at Navan is good to yielding.

Upton trainer John Murphy struck in the Mourne Windows and Doors Handicap at Dundalk with Confrontational.

Ridden by Shane Foley, who was completing a double, Confrontational made virtually all and won a shade snug at the line.

Michael Halford and his owner Paul Rooney have had to be patient with Gougane Barra but they got their reward when he comfortably landed the BK Forklifts Handicap at Dundalk last evening.

Ridden by Shane Foley, Gougane Barra won with a shade up his sleeve, swooping late down the outside of horses.

Banbridge-based Neil McKnight didn’t have to make too long a journey to bag a winner at Dundalk when Alnahar landed the Quinnbet Handicap.

Ridden by the adaptable Conor Maxwell, Alnahar forged clear in the closing stages to win going away at the line. He was returned a rank outsider at odds of 28-1.

Another Friday, another Dundalk winner for Joseph O’Brien as Chess Grand Master overcame an absence of 14 months to take the opening Racing TV Maiden.

Ridden by Wayne Lordan, Chess Grand Master made good late headway to get up and win narrowly. The winner is owned by the Rugby and Racing Syndicate.