Thursday Evening Sports Update

RUGBY

Keith Earls says he’s looking forward to the future after signing a new contract to stay with Munster and Ireland.

The versatile back has put pen-to-paper on a two-year deal that runs until the summer of 2021.

Earls says it would be difficult to imagine himself playing anywhere else but Munster.

Conor Murray has explained why he didn’t want details of his recent injury going public.

The Munster scrum half has yet to play this season but is hoping to return to the pitch within the next few weeks.

Speaking at the launch of PINERGY’S #WeAre16 campaign the Ireland and Munster number 9 explained his reasoning for keeping his medical data private.


SOCCER

Arsenal can take a giant step towards the knockout phase of the Europa League this evening.

Coming off successive wins in Group E, Unai Emery’s side are in Lisbon to face Sporting at 5.55.

Celtic are also on their travels this evening.

Brendan Rodgers hopes Celtic’s fringe players will seize their opportunity as he rotates his squad for tonight’s Europa League game.

The Glasgow side are in Germany to face RB Leipzig before a Scottish League Cup semi-final with Hearts on Sunday.

Rodgers hopes changing his team around will help his squad develop.

Among the 8 o’clock starts, Chelsea are without both Eden Hazard and Jorginho as they welcome BATE (PR: Bah-tay) Borisov to Stamford Bridge in Group L.

Rangers will be without Scott Arfield and Jamie Murphy for tonight’s Europa League game with Spartak Moscow.

But Steven Gerrard could have Ryan Jack and Borna Barisic available for selection for the match at Ibrox.

Rangers are currently top of Group G.

SOCCER

The Republic of Ireland have dropped three places in the latest FIFA World Rankings.

Martin O’Neill’s men have fallen to 33rd spot following the recent draw with Denmark and defeat to Wales.

Ireland are one place above Northern Ireland ahead of next month’s international friendly with the North at the Aviva Stadium.

The Welsh are up a place to 18th, England have climbed to a five year high of fifth.

Another underage prospect is heading for the A-F-L.

Derry’s under-20 star callum Brown has signed a rookie contract with the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Brown was a member of the Under-20 Derry side that reached this year’s All Ireland Under-20 semi finals.

Former Kerry minor and under 20s star, Stefan Okunbor, announced last week that he’s heading to join Geelong Cats in Melbourne on a two-year Rookie contract.

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

College Football will be a regular visitor to Ireland once again.

Running to 2024, the country will stage a game every year beginning with the meeting of Notre Dame and Navy in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in August 2020 at the Aviva.

The scheme is thought to be worth a potential quarter-of-a-billion to the Irish exchequer.

When the same sides met at the Aviva six-years ago, over 35-thousand Americans flew in for the game.

CYCLING

Next year’s Tour de France will begin in Brussels.

The Belgian capital will stage the Grand Depart in honour of the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first stage victory.

2019 also marks the centenary of the introduction of the yellow jersey.

Next year’s edition of the Tour is also being described as the “highest in Tour history”, with 30 categorised climbs and five mountain finishes to be tackled.

RACING

The reigning champion jump jockey, Richard Johnson says the recent dry spell has had an impact on the number of horses participating at meetings during the early part of the autumn.

The National Hunt season is set to move up a gear this weekend with the first fixture of the new campaign at Cheltenham.

The summer has seen some of the warmest days racing in decades and a battle is already emerging between Richard Johnson, Harry Skelton and even possibly Brian Hughes for the Jockeys title.

Johnson is the Champion and leads the race having just days ago got to 100 winners for the season.

He’s been speaking with Mike Vince about the state of the ground at a number of tracks ahead of the Cheltenham opener.