Author: James Clancy

More VAR controversy as Liverpool beat Manchester City to extend lead at Premier League summit

 Fabinho scored a rocket to open the scoring

Liverpool took a huge step towards the Premier League title as goals from Fabinho, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane secured a crucial win over Man City.

But Pep Guardiola was left furious by VAR calls, believing that his side had been denied two penalties for handball.

VAR controversy reigned once again as Liverpool romped to a 3-1 victory over Man City at Anfield in the biggest game of the season so far.

Trent Alexander-Arnold handled the ball in the Reds’ box on five minutes and within the blink of an eye, Fabinho was rifling Liverpool’s opener at the other end.

Mo Salah added Liverpool’s second just seven minutes later with a slick header despite suspicions of a hairline offside in the build up.

And Sadio Mane nodded in Jordan Henderson’s perfect cross just six minutes into the second-half to put the game beyond City.

Bernardo Silva added a consolation for the frustrated champions with 12 minutes to go but it was too little too late.

Liverpool move eight points clear at the top of the League with the win and nine above City.

Jack Byrne claims main PFAI award

Jack Byrne joins up with the national team today as the newly-crowned PFA Ireland Player of the Year.

The Shamrock Rovers midfielder was voted the best in the league by his fellow pros ahead of Dundalk’s Seán Gannon and Michael Duffy.

Byrne, 23, joined Rovers from Kilmarnock last January after a tough few years in the UK.

But he settled back in at home and had earned an Ireland call-up by March.

Byrne followed that up with some dazzling performances for the Hoops.

Stephen Bradley’s side eventually finished second in the Premier Division and won the FAI Cup.

INTERNATIONAL IMPACT

Playmaker Byrne also won his first Ireland cap when he came on against Bulgaria in September.

Today he links up with Mick McCarthy’s squad as they prepare for Thursday’s friendly with New Zealand and the Euro 2020 qualifier with Denmark tomorrow week.

Bohemians’ Danny Mandroiu — the Young Player of the Year — also has internationals on his mind.

The Ireland Under-21s fly out today ahead of their Uefa qualifier with Armenia on Thursday.

Cabinteely’s Rob Manley claimed the First Division award after finishing top of the scoring charts with 17 goals last term.

Drogheda United boss Tim Clancy won the First Division boss award.

Premier Division champions Dundalk were also honoured, with Vinny Perth scooping the top-flight manager’s award.

Strong Cork influence and Troy Parrott called into Ireland senior squad for the first time for crucial qualifier versus Denmark

Burnley midfielder Robbie Brady and Newcastle defender Ciaran Clark have been included in the finalized squad for the Republic of Ireland’s friendly against New Zealand next Thursday and the crucial final UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier versus Denmark on Monday, November 18th in Dublin.

Troy Parrott has also been included in the Republic of Ireland senior squad for the first time.

“He will feature against New Zealand,” Ireland manager Mick McCarthy told the FAI website.

Both Brady and Clark have returned to Premier League action in recent weeks and will hope to play a part against the Danes on a night when victory would almost certainly guarantee Ireland’s place at next summer’s finals.

McCarthy said: “Robbie was left out last month simply because he had only played three minutes in the Premier League all season when I named the squad.

“He is back involved with the Burnley first-team now and getting game time and his involvement is a real boost to us ahead of the match against Denmark because of the quality he brings to the team.

“I will give Robbie time against New Zealand to get ready for Denmark. He is one of the players in the squad who will really benefit from the New Zealand game before we play the Danes.”

Aside from that; four players from Cork (Kevin Long, John Egan, Alan Browne and Conor Hourihane) and a further player (Seáni Maguire) who was a star player for Cork City FC are named in this latest Irish senior squad.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SENIOR SQUAD:

GOALKEEPERS: Darren Randolph, Kieran O’Hara, Mark Travers.

DEFENDERS: Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, John Egan, Ciaran Clark, Enda Stevens, Derrick Williams, Lee O’Connor.

MIDFIELDERS: Alan Browne, Josh Cullen, Jeff Hendrick, Callum O’Dowda, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane, James McClean, Jack Byrne, Robbie Brady, Alan Judge.

FORWARDS: Callum Robinson, Troy Parrott, Aaron Connolly, David McGoldrick, James Collins, Scott Hogan, Seáni Maguire.

Stephen Kenny forced to name depleted Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad

Republic of Ireland U21 Press ConferenceStephen Kenny has had to name a depleted squad for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s crucial UEFA Euro 2021 qualifiers with Armenia and Sweden. 

Through a combination of injury and promotion to Mick McCarthy’s senior side, Kenny will have to do without the services of strikers Troy Parrott and Jonathan Afolabi as they bid to remain top of Group One and Ireland’s attack is now significantly weaker.

Bohemians defender Darragh Leahy and Celtic’s Luca Connell both miss out through injury while Kenny already knew he would have to make do without influential duo Lee O’Connor and captain Jayson Molumby.

Having suffered defeat in their last qualifier, going down 1-0 away to Iceland, that trip to Reykjavik was notable for more than just a first competitive loss under Kenny.

The result was compounded by O’Connor’s red card, who will be unavailable for the trip to Armenia along with midfielder Molumby, whose accumulation of yellow cards also rules him out.

Aston Villa’s Jack Clarke receives his first call-up as well as Hearts striker Aidan Keena and full-back Thomas O’Connor, who is currently on loan at Gillingham from Southampton.

Trevor Clarke, now with Rotherham United, has returned to full fitness, and receives his first call-up since the victory over Luxembourg in March.

Republic of Ireland Under-21 Squad

Goalkeepers: Kelleher (Liverpool), Kearns (UCD AFC).

Defenders: O’Connor (Gillingham, on loan from Southampton), McNamara (Newport County, on loan from Millwall), O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Masterson (QPR), Scales (UCD AFC), Collins (Stoke City), Clarke (Rotherham).

Midfielders: Knight (Derby County), Coventry (West Ham United), Taylor (Barnet), Clarke (Aston Villa), Ronan (DAC Dunajská Streda, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers), Mandroiu (Bohemians).

Forwards: Elbouzedi (Waterford), Kilkenny (AFC Bournemouth), Farrugia (Shamrock Rovers), Danny Grant (Bohemians), Idah (Norwich City), Keena (Hearts), Obafemi (Southampton). 

Two South African Rugby World Cup winners are set to join Munster

World Cup winners Damian de Allende and RG Snyman are poised to join Munster next summer on two-year deals.

De Allende, 27, played a crucial role at inside centre in South Africa’s triumph in Japan, their third in nine tournaments and first in 12 years.

His signing is a massive boost for the Reds and the Stormers star will join up with the province ahead of next season after spending the next six months with Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan.

De Allende, who has 45 caps for the Springboks, scored a try in the quarter-final victory over Japan and again in the semi-final win against Wales.

Snyman, a 24-year-old second row, was on the bench for the final as one of Rassie Erasmus’ ‘Bomb Squad’ that was deployed to serious effect in the latter part of games during the tournamen.

He replaced Eben Etzebeth with 21 minutes remaining in the convincing victory over England.

The Bulls lock is also plying his trade in Japan, with Honda Heat, before he is expected to join up with Munster next summer.

Denmark name strong squad for decisive UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers v Gibraltar and Ireland

Denmark head coach Age Hareide has named a strong 20-man squad for the crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers versus Gibraltar at home (November 15th) and against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin three days later.

Denmark are as good as guaranteed to comfortably beat Gibraltar in Copenhagen which will leave the Danes three points clear of Ireland at the top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group D.

Switzerland are a point behind both Ireland and Denmark at the moment. The Swiss will be expected to beat both Georgia and Gibraltar which will mean that Ireland will need to beat Denmark in their only remaining qualifying game so as to secure one of the automatic qualifying spots for Euro 2020.

In Denmark’s squad for the upcoming qualifiers, Nice striker Kasper Dolberg is the only really notable absentee, while uncapped Brentford midfielder Christian Norgaad (aged 25) is included. High profile stars such as Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Lasse Schöne are all fit and selected.

The injury-hit duo of Chelsea centre-back Andreas Christensen and Udinese full-back Jens Stryger Larsen are the most notable absentees, while Feyenoord forward Nicolai Jørgensen also misses out.

Age Hareide will name three more players this week to complete his 23-man final Denmark squad, which is a stark contrast to the Irish system of naming a 40-man provisional squad before whittling it down to the final 23 a few weeks later.

Denmark squad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ireland women’s hockey team beat Canada on penalties to qualify for Olympics for the first time

Ireland Womens HockeyIreland's womenIreland’s women have qualified for the Olympics for the first time, courtesy of a highly dramatic penalty shootout win over Canada at Donnybrook.

After the second leg finished in a 0-0 draw as the first leg had done, Irish hopes hung in the balance having missed two of their first three penalties.

Ayeisha McFerrin then made two saves to force the shootout into sudden death.

After Roisin Upton scored for Ireland, Amanda Woodcroft failed to convert, sparking jubilant home celebrations.

On another cold and wet night in Donnybrook, the game itself followed a similar pattern to the first leg.

Although Ireland began with more purpose they were unable to take control of proceedings as both sides struggled to find rhythm to their game.

Anna O’Flanagan saw her first-quarter effort slide narrowly wide of the post before Brienne Stairs nearly deflected the ball beyond McFerrin, but again the ball drifted past the goal.

With the deadlock unbroken after four quarters, it was Canada who took the ascendancy in the shootout.

Stephanie Norlander, Woodcroft and Sara McManus converted for the visitors while Nicci Daly was the only one of Ireland’s first three penalty takers to find the back of the net.

With Canada needing to score only one of their two remaining penalties to qualify, and Ireland needing to score both of theirs in order to force sudden death, all the momentum was with the visitors.

However McFerrin, so often the hero during Ireland’s run to the 2018 World Cup final, made two saves from Stairs and Shanlee Johnston while Bethany Barr and Chloe Watkins held their nerve to score.

Upton, who had missed her first penalty, stepped up for Ireland’s first sudden-death penalty and scored, surviving a video referral which revealed that the eight-second shot-clock had not been set before the penalty was taken.

Then Woodcroft failed to get her shot off before the eight seconds were up, sending Ireland through to Tokyo 2020.