Huge boost for the Republic of Ireland as Shane Duffy declares himself fit for pending qualifiers

Shane Duffy will fly to Georgia with the rest of the Republic of Ireland squad tomorrow after being declared fit for Saturday evening’s Euro 2020 qualifier.

The 27-year-old defender was not named in Mick McCarthy’s initial 24-man squad as he attempted to work his way back from a calf injury at his club Brighton, but was due to head for Dublin on Wednesday afternoon after being given the all-clear.

Striker David McGoldrick will miss the trip to Tbilisi as he continues his recovery from a groin problem, but still has a chance of being involved in Tuesday’s Group D clash with Switzerland in Geneva.

Duffy’s fitness represents a significant boost for McCarthy, who has already lost his central defensive partner Richard Keogh to a knee injury and left-back Enda Stevens to suspension for the game at the Boris Paichadze Arena.

McCarthy told FAI TV: “I’ve just had a text from him saying he’s been given the all-clear this morning. He’s trained with the lads, so he must have done some football work, so that’s good news.

“He’s on a flight this afternoon and he’ll be with us to travel to Georgia tomorrow. All along, he’s been pretty confident he’d be okay.

“It wasn’t as bad as they thought so he’s been running all week, and he said he’s trained with the team this morning so if he’s done full training, he’s fine.”

Duffy is likely to line up alongside either John Egan or Kevin Long on Saturday, while James Collins, Scott Hogan, Callum Robinson, Seáni Maguire and uncapped teenager Aaron Connolly will hope for a chance to fill McGoldrick’s boots.

Ireland women overcome throwing away two goal lead to beat Ukraine

Vera Pauw has gotten her reign as Republic of Ireland women’s manager off to a winning start thanks to a 3-2 win over Ukraine at Tallaght Stadium tonight.

A player-of-the-match performance from Rianna Jarrett who also scored her first international goal on the night helped see the Girls in Green secure a vital win over the Ukrainians with Natiya Pantsualya’s own-goal proving costly for the visitors.

The Irish took a two-goal lead inside the opening half-an-hour, thanks to captain Katie McCabe and Jarrett, before being pegged back by Ukraine. The three points however were secured through an unfortunate own-goal in front of a record attendance at Tallaght Stadium for a women’s international.

After an unconvincing home win against Montenegro last time out, Vera Pauw opted to make four changes from Tom O’Connor’s sole competitive game in charge as Megan Connolly, Heather Payne, Keeva Keenan and Megan Campbell all returned to the starting XI.

Visitors Ukraine made the same amount of alterations from their 8-0 hammering away to Germany – with manager Nataliia Zinchenko attempting to secure the Eastern European’s first qualifying win of the campaign.

Long throw-ins were causing considerable danger to the visitors – both Diane Caldwell and Louise Quinn very nearly profited from some indecision in the Ukrainian six-yard box – just heading wide from a Campbell delivery into danger.

Despite missing a golden chance, she kept working and in the 25th minute her invention and drive teed up McCabe at the near post who made no mistake to give the home side a deserved lead after a strong start to the game.

It got even better for Ireland minutes later, when Jarrett got finished McCabe’s corner to head home the second on 28 minutes.

However, disaster struck just after the half-hour mark when Lyubov Shmatko took advantage of a goalkeeping error from Marie Hourihane.

Hourihane snatched at a set-piece by Olha Basanska and centre-back Shmatko was on hand to turn home with ease inside the penalty area.

Just before the break Ukraine were inexplicably level – with Hourihane once again being punished for some elementary mistakes as Olha Ovdiychuk made the scores level at the short whistle.

Ireland reacted well after the break and soon retook the lead through an own-goal from Natiya Pantsulaya.

Jarrett got on a loose ball on the wing, before taking it under control and crossing it into the box. Denise O’Sullivan saw her rebound crash off Shmatko, before the ball ricocheted off Pantsulaya and snuck into the back of the net.

The game petered out in the final quarter of an hour, with the Republic of Ireland content with their lead, and Ukraine being unable to grab an equalizer given a lack of opportunities up front. A positive night overall for the Girls in Green and a solid start to Vera Pauw’s reign as manager.

Republic of Ireland Women: M Hourihan; L Quinn, K Keenan, M Campbell, D Caldwell; D O’Sullivan, N Fahey, M Connolly; He Payne (L Kiernan 71), K McCabe, R Jarrett.

Booked: McCabe (38).

Ukraine Women: K Samson; T Khimich, O Basanska, D Apanaschenko, N Pantsulaya, L Shmatko; T Kitayeva, I Andrushchak (N Kunina 86), V Andrukhiv , O Ovdiychuk; Y Kalinina (T Romanenko 69).

Booked: Andrukhiv (12), Pantsulaya (68).

Player of the Match: Jarrett (Republic of Ireland).

Referee: Desiree Drundbacher (Switzerland).

Attendance: 5,328.

Celtic beaten for the first time ever by Livingstone

 Ref Willie Collum immediately brandished the red card

Ryan Christie was red carded for a crazy lunge on Livingston midfielder Scott Robinson as Celtic slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The 24-year-old’s moment of madness came in the 25th minute, leaving his team-mates having to battle with the combative Lions a man down for most of the match.

And fittingly it was Robinson himself who dusted himself down to give Livi the lead two minutes into the second half.

Lyndon Dykes 73rd minute effort then ended Celtic’s hopes of getting back into the game and sealed a famous victory for Gary Holt’s side – their first ever triumph over Celtic.

Sky Sports pundit Kris Boyd was scathing in his assessment.

He said at half time: “Scott Robinson is lucky he’s still out on that pitch.

“It’s out of character but for me it’s frustrating. Celtic haven’t got going in this game at all and full credit to Livingston.”

Connolly called up to senior Irish squad for upcoming UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers


Aaron Connolly, having netted two goals on his full Premier League debut as Brighton beat Tottenham 3-0 today, has been called into the Republic of Ireland. Blackburn defender Derrick Williams has also been added to Mick McCarthy’s squad for the pivotal UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches away to Georgia and in Geneva against Switzerland.

With Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick a serious doubt and Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis now ruled out of the upcoming international matches with a hamstring injury, McCarthy has brought in Connolly.

The 19-year-old Galway native was in contention for a call up to the senior Ireland squad before today with his chances linked to those of McGoldrick, who has been injured for a few weeks.

Williams meanwhile comes in after Greg Cunningham and Darragh Lenihan suffered knee injuries today.

“Aaron and Derrick will join up with the squad on Sunday after injuries to Ronan, Greg and Darragh,” McCarthy said this evening. “I have spoken to Aaron and Derrick and they are looking forward to meeting up with us. Aaron enjoyed his full debut for Brighton and we have been keeping a close eye on his progress this season.”

Connolly said he was expecting a sleepless night after his goal-scoring exploits against Spurs and that the performance was the “proudest moment,” of his career so far, something made all the more special because his father had flown over from Ireland on the basis that the teenager might start the game. “I looked up to celebrate with him when I got the second goal,” said the happy teenager after today’s game.

Other Irish scorers in the Premier League today were Cork native Conor Hourihane who netted for Aston Villa in the Villains’ 5-1 win over Norwich City and Jeff Hendrick who scored the only goal in Burnley’s 1-0 win over Everton, with the Toffees having Ireland captain Séamus Coleman sent off with the score still 0-0 some 11 minutes into the second-half of that game.

Cork Constitution just about get defense of AIL title off to a winning start

Between them, Cork Constitution and Garryowen have won nine of the 29 AIL titles with Con the reigning champions. They got the defense of their title off to a winning start, but only just at Temple Hill this afternoon.

There was little in the way of try scoring opportunities in the wet conditions in the first-half, though Con centre Greg Higgins always looked dangerous when he got the ball in hand and he made a few excellent line breaks.

It was from one of those Higgins’ line breaks that Con opening the scoring today. Garryowen were whistled for offside and Aidan Moynihan slotted a relatively easy penalty.

The Limerick side would go in 6-3 up at the break however with Jamie Heuston slotting two straightforward penalties.

The real drama was reserved for the second half however as the weather conditions improved.

A poor clearance from just outside the Garryowen 22 found the waiting arms of the electric Higgins and he sprinted the 35 metres to score the opening try in the corner on 53 minutes with Moynihan narrowly missing the conversion for Con.

Moynihan then converted an easy penalty for hands in the ruck on 58 minutes.

A late tackle then yielded a penalty for the Limerick side. They went for touch on the Con five-metre line. From the resulting lineout The Light Blues proceeded to go through the phases and Tommy O’Hara got in on the opposite flank for the try with Heuston landing the extras. Cork 11-13 Garryowen with 76 minutes played.

Con then won a penalty at the death for a high tackle on Joseph McSwiney. They went for touch. The resulting maul yielded a scrum for Con. A few resets led to a penalty for the Cork side and with the last kick of the match, from 30 metres out and at a slight angle to the posts, Moynihan gave Con the win by the minimum.

Full-time at Temple Hill: Cork Constitution 14-13 Garryowen




Cork City lose to freak goal but result elsewhere means safety is virtually secure

Bohemians’ Derek Pender celebrates scoring his side’s first goal during their Airtricity League clash with Cork City. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Cork City and goalkeeper Tadgh Ryan in particular can consider themselves unlucky to lose 1-0 to Bohemians at Dalymount Park tonight.

Bohemians moved a step closer to securing a Europa League spot when a speculative ball from man-of-the-match Derek Pender was caught a yard out from his goal-line by the City netminder.

He was however backpedaling at pace and fell over the goal-line. Unfortunately he had also nudged the ball over the goal-line as the Dublin side’s players reeled away in celebration.

The big match of the night elsewhere went Cork City’s way however. The battle of the bottom two finished scoreless as Finn Harps couldn’t break down University College Dublin. The closest either side came to scoring was midway through the second-half when Harps should have had a penalty for a trip on Rafael Cretaro.

The Students, as they have for some weeks, look doomed to relegation, six points adrift of the relegation play-off place with just three games left to play.

Harps meanwhile look set for the relegation play-off. The Donegal outfit are six points adrift of Cork City – and safety – also with three games left to play this season.

Waterford deservedly won for the second time in Inchicore this season to dent St Patrick’s Athletics’ hopes of qualifying for Europe.

Having threatened twice very early on, Waterford deservedly took the lead on five minutes. Pat’s didn’t deal with a corner which resulted in Dean Clarke clumsily tripping Rob Slevin in the area to concede a penalty which Michael O’Connor confidently dispatched.

Matthew O’Connor made amends for earlier profligacy and wrapped the game for The Blues nine minutes from time with a towering header from Sam Bone’s diagonal cross.

Daniel Kelly’s 13th goal of the season proved decisive as champions Dundalk extended their unbeaten domestic run to 31 games with a 1-0 win over Derry City at Oriel Park.

It might have been expected that Lilywhites’ boss Vinny Perth would experiment with his starting line-up considering that the double is already secure and the Cup final is a few weeks away. That did not prove to be the case however as Dundalk fielded their strongest possible starting XI.

The only goal of the night came in the 64th minute. Substitute Lido Lotefa played the ball out for Seán Gannon whose cross was swept home at the far post by the incoming Daniel Kelly.

The Candsytripes almost snatched a point in the last few minutes but substitute Grant Gillespie saw his drive come back off the post.

Derry now drop to fourth in the league table but are still very much in the hunt for European qualification.


Rugby World Cup: Ireland unconvincing in win over Russia

Ireland remain on course for a World Cup quarter-final after easing to an uninspiring 35-0 win over a toothless Russia in Kobe.

Rob Kearney, Corkman Peter O’Mahony and Rhys Ruddock scored first-half tries before Andrew Conway secured the bonus point in the 62nd minute.

Garry Ringrose’s late score put a final exclamation point on an otherwise flat second half performance.

Another five-point win over Samoa would guarantee a place in the last eight.

Ireland now have nine days before their final Pool A assignment in Fukuoka against the Samoans.

Five days on from their already famous defeat by Japan, Ireland knew there was little they could do to change the narrative of their World Cup campaign to date against a side as unfancied as Russia.

The best they could hope for was to secure all five points in a performance that exposed the chasm of quality between the two sides and showed signs of a team with the skill-set to match any side in the tournament.

While the victory was never in doubt from the moment Kearney opened the scoring with his fifth try in six World Cup matches inside two minutes, moments of real quality were notable by their absence, particularly in an error-strewn second half.

Captaining the side from the start for the first time on his 86th international appearance, Johnny Sexton returned to Ireland’s line-up having missed the Japan match through injury.

HIs half-time withdrawal only served to further underline how vital the 34-year-old remains to this Ireland side.

With the result of the game beyond doubt, Joe Schmidt wasted no time in ensuring his star man left Kobe unscathed as he handed Jack Carty the reins for the second half.

After Kearney raced over off the back of a neat set-piece move, O’Mahony added Ireland’s second after 12 minutes as he latched onto Sexton’s grubber-kick.

A first half that began in the manner that Ireland would have hoped began to stagnate as Ireland struggled to maintain a fluency against a side who offered so little with the ball.

As the strong Irish contingent in the crowd began to grow restless, Ruddock bulldozed over the the help of John Ryan to send Schmidt’s side into the interval with a spring in their step.

Although the first half was by no means dazzling, it was certainly a more controlled display than the 40 minutes after the break, in which the break-down in fluency could once again be correlated with Sexton’s absence.