Ireland – 2019 Six Nations

Ireland Six Nations 2019

Ireland will begin preparations for the 2019 Six Nations with a weeklong training camp in Portugal before returning to Carton House next weekend to prepare for England’s visit in week one of the competition.

Tadgh Beirne picked up a knee injury in the 2nd half of Munster’s 9-7 win over Exeter Chiefs at the weekend but should be back in contention for the round 3 visit to Rome. Quinn Roux will travel to Portugal in Beirne’s place.

A few other players will stay in Ireland and prepare for this weekend’s Pro 14 action like Rob Kearney and Jack Mc Grath. Andrew Conway will also stay behind and prepare for the England game having picked up a knock in the Exeter game. He should be back in contention to fight for a place in the 23.

Ireland will go into this year’s campaign after the 4 Irish provinces advanced in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup , Ulster face Leinster in late March in Dublin ,Munster will head to Edinburgh and Connacht will take on familiar foes Sale Sharks in the Challenge Cup quarter finals.

Eddie Jones has already kicked off the verbal jousting by claiming the Jonathan Sexton has access to a “bat phone” when it comes to communicating with referees. It is just another in a long list quotes that can be attributed to Jones. The game with England in two weeks time will set the tone for both sides in this Championship.

England could be in a better place with Jamie George and Luke Cowen Dickie as the starting hooker and back up for the Dublin game. The impact that Henry Slade had on the Chiefs game plan vs. Munster at the weekend will be crucial to England’s chances if he starts in the centre.

Ireland will want the next few days in Portugal to count and the selection of Jack Carty along with Joey Carbery to understudy Jonathan Sexton suggest that we may see a slight change in the way Ireland will attack during the Championship. All three out halves have had regular game time since last November and are beginning to make each club side tick. This is bound to have a positive impact on Ireland.

Ireland will be in good shape heading into this Championship, There is no better way to open the Championship than England in Dublin. Here’s hoping for a good competitive campaign and I will now try and select the 23 to take England on in two weeks time.

15 Andrew Conway

14 Keith Earls

13 Garry Ringrose

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 CJ Stander

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Devin Toner

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Rory Best

1 Cian Healy

16 Sean Cronin

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Andrew Porter

19 Ultan Dillane

20 Jack Conan

21 John Cooney

22 Joey Carbery

23 Bundee Aki

Ireland Men’s and Women’s Squads 2019

Ireland 2019 Men’s and Women’s Squads

The 2019 Six Nations is only 2 weeks away and all our Irish teams will face England in Ireland on week 1, the senior women will play England in Donnybrook at 7pm on the Friday night, the 20s will take on England in Irish Independent Park on the same evening. On the Saturday at 4.45pm Ireland will begin the defence of the title they won in empathic fashion on St Patricks Day 2018.

The women’s team will play Wales this weekend in a warm up fixture in Donnybrook and Coach Adam Griggs has named a 29 woman squad for that game and he continues to add more new blood to the squad. The hope this year will be to consolidate the position from last year when they finished behind England and France.

Both Wales and Scotland have made strides forward in the last few years and are catching Ireland rapidly but England and France are still some way clear of the chasing pack due to fact that they have a few professionals in their ranks.

Ireland will also have to qualify for the 2021 World Cup and that will also be in the back of Adam Griggs mind when selecting his squads and also the fact he will not have a few key players down to the fact they are playing in the 7 circuit is still an issue that he will contend with throughout the Championship.

The depth chart that is so regularly associated with Joe Schmidt is beginning to take shape for the Women’s side also and it may not be to the same levels as the men’s team but the work is being put in and more will have to be done to continue to grow the game at grassroots level.

For the men’s team ,it will be tough to emulate 2018 but that is what will need to be done to keep the good feeling going and at least another Championship is the minimum requirement to end the 6 Nations and then and only then the World Cup will come into view.

That’s the big prize at the end of the year but the defence of the 6 Nations title won in good style last year will be the main focus. Joe Schmidt will want to end his involvement in the 6 Nations like he started out winning consecutive titles in 2014 and 2015.

The Ireland squad is strong and people have made a lot of the fact that Ross Byrne out but Schmidt selected the squad to play in the opening two rounds and men like Leavy, Ross Byrne and others will come into the equation in round 3 or before depending on injuries.

This way of doing things has served Schmidt well in the past and will serve him well in 2019. This year is his swansong and he will no doubt want to go out in the best possible fashion. England first up in Dublin is the best start , it will focus the mind and you can be sure that Eddie Jones and his band of merry men will get a very warm reception in 2 weeks time……

Katie Taylor – Childhood Dreams Fulfilled…

Katie – Childhood Dreams Fulfilled….

Having watched the Ross Whitaker directed film on Katie Taylor last night, I think the film did an adequate job revealing all about her life and times and yes it may not have made any new revelations about her career or personal life but it did give us an indication of the thought process with which she made the decision to go from the amateur game which yielded many World and European titles along with Olympic Gold in London in 2012 to the pro game in late 2016.

It examines the strength of her relationship both personal and professional with her father and long time coach Peter Taylor. It shows us the strong faith that she and her Mam have in God. The film reveals that it was a tweet to boxing promoter Eddie Hearn that started the ball rolling to get Katie into the pro game.

Brian Peters who is her manager, took on that job as a favour to her mother Bridget and to look after an aspect of the game that she was never comfortable dealing with and also the amateur game would not prepare you for the rigours of the professional game.

Ross Enamait, who is based in the US is her trainer and their relationship has strengthened in the few years that they have been together. We also see that Katie has re located to the US in a bid to dominate the professional fight game like she dominated the amateur ranks for well over a decade.

Since she has turned pro she has boxed in the USA in Madison Square Garden to name one venue ,Cardiff at the Principality Stadium , in London at Wembley and so on. We in Ireland may be waiting to see Katie box on home soil due to circumstances outside of the boxing world. While Ray Moylette made a return to box on home soil before Christmas although this return wasn’t successful it did herald the return of Pro boxing to these shores.

While boxing did return, the hope of Katie headlining a show on home soil does seem to be a bit of a pipe dream in the current climate. England will be the closet destination to see her live one feels. She is a legend of Irish sport with all she has achieved so far and this may continue into 2019.

A word on film maker Ross Whitaker who took on this project, he also brought the documentary on Anthony Foley to our screens. It will be interesting to see what he has planned for next time….




Champions Cup – Changes Ahead ??

Champions Cup – Changes Ahead

The Champions Cup is entering round 6 where only Saracens of England are assured of a quarter final spot. This of course is big news for the Gallagher Premiership because it may only supply one team to the last 8 although Exeter Chiefs may join them with the right result in Thomond Park next Saturday evening.

We may be about to enter another quarter final phase with only small numbers of Premiership teams namely Saracens and maybe just maybe Exeter Chiefs. The Heineken Cup was changed back in 2014 to see the apparent dominance of one country ended, both the RFU and FFR spoke about forming a breakaway competition and gave the Pro12/14 sides an opportunity to stay with the Heineken Cup and the Pro 12/14 sides decided after a number of discussions with relevant parties that moving to the new competition that is the Heineken Champions Cup from 2015 onward.

Saracens won two titles in 2016 and 2017 after Toulon had won 3 titles on the spin from 2014 to 2016. Some people in the English media are beginning to question how the English sides cannot compete, citing how tough the Premiership is on a weekly basis…

This was talk very similar to what happened back in 2015 when the competition changed to 20 teams. This change may not happen but if Leinster were to go on a win two in a row, mark my words to murmurs will turn into talk and we may see ERPC change the goal posts again. This has happened before and may just happen once more if Leinster do the double.

The Irish sides have done very well this year with all 3 sides in contention for the quarter finals with Munster facing Exeter Chiefs, Ulster heading for Leicester Tigers and Leinster going to Coventry to face Wasps.

Munster need to win to get a quarter final berth and could have a home quarter final if Montpellier defeat Edinburgh on Friday night in Murrayfield. First job’s first, Munster need to beat Exeter and then worry about a quarter final.

For Leinster and Ulster the story is slightly more straight forward, with wins needed to secure passage to the last 8. Both sides will be away from home but have won away this year to fill themselves with confidence heading to round 6.

European rugby still has the thrills and spills it had as the Heineken Cup , in its new guise as the Heineken Champions Cup the same drama can be expected so have the calculators at the ready because round 6 promises to baffle, frustrate and excite in equal measure….

Roll on the weekend starting on Friday night at 7.45pm.





Munster vs Leinster Leadership

In the last week since Leinster faced Munster at Thomond Park last Saturday and the leadership of Jonathan Sexton was called into question by several people after some of his actions during his 60 minutes on the field.

During a first half that saw two yellow cards and a red card along with a few unsavoury scenes, people have asked about Sexton in his position as Leinster captain. He struggled to keep his team in check in the opening half despite being asked by match referee Frank Murphy to speak to his side about their behaviour.

Leinster went to Limerick with a distinct game plan to unsettle Munster upfront and then if that worked they would have used the ball to better effect than they did because when they did move the ball at pace they seemed to cause Munster problems in defence.

Back to the leadership of Jonathan Sexton, many people were angered by his behaviour and also his interactions with match referee Frank Murphy were questioned. Jonathan Sexton was given the captaincy of Leinster last summer after Isa Nacewa retired and when that decision was announced nobody batted an eyelid but this past weekend finally saw people speak up about his behaviour.

Jonathan Sexton is a talented rugby player and can captain a side and will continue in his role with Leinster despite the criticism he received after the game last weekend. What has made Jonathan Sexton a great player is that hard edge that he has, like Roy Keane or Peter Canavan but last weekend this hard edge went slightly awry and this lead to a longer than usual opening 40 minutes that almost lasted 60 minutes after all the stoppages.

The issues surrounding the sending off of James Lowe who saw red for taking Andrew Conway in the air have been dealt with as Lowe has received a two week suspension. World Rugby still need to work with all unions and clubs to continue to keep the sport up to date with the rules around the tackle area.

Jonathan Sexton will need to look at the way he conducts himself and may need to be calmer when dealing with match officials into the future. Frank Murphy did a good job in what was his toughest assignment to date. He has only a small number of Pro 14 games under his belt but has been honing his craft in the All Ireland League over the last few seasons since hanging up his boots after spells with Munster, Connacht and Leicester Tigers in England where he played alongside current Leinster coach Leo Cullen.

Frank Murphy like Jonathan Sexton will be better for the experience last weekend, it was good to see this fixture come to life again after a few games where neither team was at full strength due to the IRFU’s long running player welfare system where Irish players game time in managed to get the maximum from each player during the International windows that will this year include a World Cup later in 2019. This weekend will be a another chance for players to stake a claim for Irish squad inclusion before Europe begins next weekend.

2019 6 Nations Squad

My Ireland Squad for the 2019 Six Nations

Forwards : James Cronin , Jack Mc Grath , Cian Healy , Dave Kilcoyne.

Sean Cronin, Niall Scannell , Shane Delahunt , Rory Best.

Tadgh Furlong, John Ryan , Andrew Porter , Conor Carey.

Tadgh Beirne , James Ryan , Devin Toner , James Cannon.

CJ Stander , Peter O Mahony , Jack Conan , Dan Leavy , Josh Van Der Flier , Jordi Murphy.


Backs : Conor Murray , John Cooney , Luke Mc Grath.

Jonathan Sexton, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery , Jack Carty.

Keith Earls, Matt Healy, Jacob Stockdale , Andrew Conway.

Will Addison, Bundee Aki , Garry Ringrose , Rory O Loughlin.

Mike Haley , Rob Kearney.

Here is the squad I would select for the upcoming 6 Nations. Injuries will have an impact between here and the first round on the opening weekend of the 6 Nations.