With France weakened by retirements and England inconsistent, Ireland have every chance to redress their World Cup failures. By Brent Pope
Rugby was invented by an Irishman and is derived from an archaic form of gaelic football called ‘caid', according to rugby author Ciaran Cronin. Cronin's new book, Ireland Rugby Miscellany, says that William Webb Ellis may have been born in Ireland because his father worked here at that time. Webb Ellis had many cousins living near Clonmel and, it was caid that Ellis demonstrated to his friends when he picked up the football in Rugby, England in 1823.
If there was one theme which defined the International Managerial Career of Stephen Staunton, it was comedy. From the first, infamous “Gaffer” press conference, to his bizarre posturing behind Ray Houghton moments before Ireland confronted Germany at Stuttgart, Staunton's reign had all the hallmarks of an Elizabethan farce. A famous literary critic once theorized that the only thing to separate a Comedic play from a Tragic play is the ending.
Evanne Ni Chuilinn talks to Kerry half-back, Aidan O'Mahony about Kerry's hard-fought battle to retain the Sam Maguire and win an elusive double not achieved since their All Ireland opponents, Cork, did it in 1989 and 1990.
The surprise of not seeing Cork, Galway or Tipperary in the semi-finals is just one twist in an exciting Championship.
The word emulating from the Irish Rugby training camp is that this Irish team is the most focused and well prepared Irish side to ever compete at a World Cup. Stronger, fitter and faster they may be, but they must also consider that the teams they will meet in France in a few weeks time are also preparing meticulously, not least two other members in Ireland's aptly named “group of death”, France and Argentina.
The battle for Munster provided spectators with scintillating action while Kilkenny has once again asserted itself as the team to beat, claiming the Leinster title in spectacular style. Christy O'Connor, former custodian of the Clare goal, picks 10 of the best in the championship to date.
With the National League over and the provincial championships at the final stages, all eyes are now on the All-Ireland Championship. Former Cavan goalkeeper, Paul O'Dowd selects some football players who have made an impact so far in the championship.