David Kelly: The captivating tournament that changed the nation for the better
Euro 88 brought outsiders in from the cold and brought football to the outsiders.
Euro 88 brought outsiders in from the cold and brought football to the outsiders.
June 12, Neckarstadion, Stuttgart (Att: 51,573)
Two years ago today, Paddy Jackson delivered a statement performance in a green shirt as Ireland produced an historic first Test win on South African soil.
The History Channel is currently showing wall-to-wall documentaries on FIFA World Cups through the ages and, appropriately enough, history has helped us shine a light on some of the less revealing...
Even when Jordan Conroy was a small boy, he freighted Olympian dreams.
While Leinster may have completed an historic campaign for Irish provincial rugby by completing a first trophy double, their hooker Sean Cronin also celebrated a notable personal landmark in Saturday's Guinness PRO14 Championship final.
Former Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes may investigate the possibility of signing former Irish international out-half Paddy Jackson following the Kiwi's unveiling as Waikato head coach in New Zealand.
Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson may never be able to close the sordid chapter of a story that engulfed Courtroom 12 of Belfast Crown Court earlier this year.
'What would Isa do?'
Leinster legend Isa Nacewa will captain his province for the final time tonight and has admitted that his second stint at the province has been more fulfilling than the first as Leo Cullen's men stand on the brink of an historic trophy double.
Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward.
Two months ago he'd watched many of the same faces hoist silverware above their heads but it didn't bother him then at all, he wallowed in it.
Munster coach Johann van Graan's quest to dethrone the kings of Europe in their own castle might be undermined by a crisis at tighthead prop.
MUNSTER have set their sights on dethroning the European Champions Leinster at the RDS this...
Twenty-one games and 21 years old and alive-alive-oh.
Phil Orr could pen his name in the annals at the end of this month, never mind James Ryan.
Towards the end of Monday night's friendly, Ireland were awarded a free-kick in bonus territory, routinely the most probable route to goal for a Martin O'Neill outfit these days.
The Meyler family could never be accused of lacking either ambition or motivation.
It seems as if the weight of the world must be resting upon the slight shoulders of Joey Carbery. Or, at the very least, the weight of the World Cup.
Mark McCall remains, unquestionably, the most successful overseas coach in the history of Irish rugby.
LEINSTER coach Leo Cullen has said that retiring Kiwi legend Isa Nacewa will leave an 'unbelievable' hole in the province as he prepares to captain the side for the last time in their quest to win an historic double.
Jonathan Sexton is expected to be passed fit to lead all-conquering Leinster's assault on an historic trophy double when head coach Leo Cullen unveils his side for tomorrow's Aviva Stadium Guinness PRO14 decider against Scarlets.
What to do next after the "perfect fit" proves itself to be about as imperfect as a pair of ill-fitting, crotch-chafing polyester trousers?
Difficult to pick holes in Leinster right now but, as surely as they have unlocked so many complicated combinations this season, you can be assured they know their limitations as well as anyone else.
Munster have sent back 1,000 tickets for this Saturday's Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Leinster having failed to sell out their allocation for the RDS encounter.
Leo Cullen hailed his Leinster side's resolve and composure after becoming the first man in European competition history to both play for and coach a winning side.
LEINSTER coach Leo Cullen hailed his side's resolve and composure after becoming the first man in European competition history to both play and coach a winning side.
At times when the turmoil takes hold, he knows that the safest place for him is to simply let its waves engulf him. There can be peace there, too.
Racing 92 coach Laurent Travers has hailed the impact of former Munster man Donnacha Ryan as his side bid to win their first European title at the expense of Leinster.
Tadhg Furlong never had to go looking for Mike Ross when he first entered the Leinster Academy. Mike Ross went looking for Tadhg Furlong.
The dissolution of the Heineken Cup in 2014 prompted many to issue panicked predictions that the recent dominance of the Irish provinces would, at a stroke a pen, disappear forever.
Chance can determine a life's path but only choice decides how far one travels it. The road rises ahead but, still, you must walk to meet it.
In the same sentence, Munster captain Peter O'Mahony summed up both the yearning need for his side to bridge a seven-year title itch but also the intense difficulty his side continue to have in trying to scratch it. "It would mean a lot," he says, before adding plaintively, "but we have to go and play."
Farewell to Limerick, then, Simon Zebo. And Ireland, too, a rugby nation who embraced but never fully appreciated him.
Racing 92 coach Laurent Labit has hinted that Puma flyer Juan Imhoff could stake a late claim to feature in next weekend's Champions Cup final in Bilbao against Leinster.
Munster coach Johann van Graan admits that Simon Zebo will be sorely missed after his moment of magic helped his side book a PRO14 semi-final date against Leinster in two weeks' time.
MUNSTER squeaked their way past Edinburgh to book their place in a Guinnnes PRO 14 semi-final against Leinster at the RDS in a fortnight's time.
Time to roll the dice then as Munster face their last chance to scratch a seven-year title itch.
AS Connacht fans continue to reel from the sudden departure of coach Kieran Keane after completing just one year of a three-year deal, Ireland international Kieran Marmion has insisted that the players should be blamed for the loss of the highly-regarded Kiwi coach.
Leicester may be the home of the Tigers but there is barely enough room to swing a cat in the press room.
Let us play 'Spot the Difference'.
John Muldoon had no need to apologise for his final, defining act on the rugby field.
As it happened, Leinster didn't even need the solitary match point required to guarantee a home semi-final.
John Muldoon had done many things but never in his 15 years had he scored in an interprovincial match. You can imagine the pre-match chatter. "Lads, if we're hosing them, let's make sure we give Mul a chance to score!" They couldn't let him down; nor he, them.
John Muldoon enjoyed a fairytale farewell, kicking a conversion, the 47th point of a record inter-provincial win for his side, and a clean home sweep in the series for the season, in his 327th and final game for the province.
Two years ago this week, the decision of Cian Kelleher to leave Leinster and join Connacht would usually have passed relatively unnoticed but two years ago Connacht and Leinster seemed to be moving in quite different directions.
Paddy Jackson may become a target for English Premiership outfit Sale Sharks with sources in England indicating that the out-half may even be unveiled before this weekend.
Slightly less than three years ago, the Irish Independent was offered the chance to interview Isa Nacewa in Auckland, where he had returned as a coach with the Blues following his retirement from Leinster.
You presume of all the places Keith Earls would rather be, nowhere near the top of the list would his choice be a Monday morning press gig, dungeon-deep in a Dublin Georgian house surrounded by the serried ranks of middle-aged media types hungry for spicy sausages and snappy lines.
So no All-Ireland final, then.
Munster-bound Tadhg Beirne hailed his one-time club team-mate James Ryan after the Leinster man continued his remarkable unbeaten run in professional rugby with his 20th win from 20 games with club and country.
EUROPE'S form side maintained their relentless charge towards a fourth crown, Leinster securing their May final slot by totting up the second highest points total in the competition's history.
Carl Frampton insists his journey is far from over and he can leave behind a golden, lasting legacy.
Twelve months ago Leinster put themselves in a great position to win silverware but were simply not good enough to finish the job.
Leo Cullen, Leinster player: "Losing to Perpignan was dark a day as I had ever experienced with Leinster."
When Leinster announced the signing of Scott Fardy just over a year ago, they were at pains to state the case for his recruitment.
French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne have joined English Premiership outfit Exeter Chiefs in distancing themselves from a potential swoop for Paddy Jackson.
Keith Earls is on track to face Racing Metro in Munster's Champions Cup semi-final in Bordeaux on Sunday.
In the immediate aftermath of Leinster's quarter-final victory over Saracens, Jonathan Sexton spoke glowingly of man of the match Dan Leavy.
Perhaps it's his upbringing on the family farm in Yorkshire, because Stuart Lancaster never strikes one as a person who laments what he cannot have.
Leinster have not conceded the hope that Sean O'Brien may still be available for this weekend's Champions Cup semi-final against Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium.
Seán O'Brien has been cleared for a return to action in Leinster colours ahead of this weekend's Guinness PRO14 clash against Treviso, with an eye to featuring in next week's Champions Cup semi-final against Scarlets.
Perhaps age and experience may colour your view but, for all the excitement engendered by a clutch of seemingly nerveless young Irish stars this season, it has been just as rewarding to witness several so-called veterans defiantly immune to the sands of time.
Ashton Gate in Bristol has seen a variety of celebrated visitors this season, from Pogba to Zlatan, Pep to Aguero.
For Ulster Rugby, this has been a season which feels as if it has no ending.
Leinster may be keen to move on from the weekend triumph that confirmed their status as Champions Cup favourites but there are some loose ends to tie up.
On the field, Irish rugby would seem to be in the rudest of health, with a Grand Slam in the bag and the enticing prospect of a second ever European final between two Irish provinces.
SEAN O'BRIEN will be assessed this week before it can be confirmed whether or not he is available for selection for this weekend's Guinness PRO14 clash against Zebre, according to Leinster.
Leinster are not just the best team in Europe right now but they have proven time and again this season that they are also the smartest.
Mathieu Bastareaud scans the turf in confusion as if trying to find the slingshot which has slain his goliaths.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen hailed the impact of young guns James Ryan and Dan Leavy after booking their place in a Champions Cup semi-final at home to Scarlets, where they will seek to avenge their PRO 14 semi-final defeat in Dublin last season.
Munster coach Johann van Graan revealed he was convinced that Francois Trinh-Duc's late clearance was destined for the stands before being gathered by Andrew Conway who scored Munster's magical winner.
Munster are where they want to be on their European journey - a record 17th quarter-final, on home soil, too - but are they equipped with the necessary ingredients to continue towards their desired destination?
Transition is a dirty word in any sport. It smacks of an excuse culture. Of a desire to offset blame for current failures by lamenting a golden past and the vague anticipation of an even brighter future.
Thomond Park has welcomed its fair share of cartoon villains down the years.
Ian Keatley turns 31 this Sunday but even as the years advance and the clocks move forward, it seems to those watching as if the out-half is growing ever more capable of catching time in a bottle.
Familiar territory for Munster, this. A 17th European quarter-final - a tournament record - yet, for all their pedigree, a well-thumbed narrative will preface the challenge which starkly outlines their current difficulties.
It never rains but it pours, especially in Limerick, and it seemed such a pathetic fallacy that as Munster began training, the heavens began to weep.
Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway remain 50-50 for Munster's Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Toulon at Thomond Park this Saturday but there is optimism that both can take their place in an injury-shattered back-line.
Professionals regularly speak of taking one game at a time but, a week out from crucial European quarter-finals, such niceties are hurled out the window.
If any passionately parochial Leinster supporters were fretting about whether their legion of international stars might have sufficiently sated by Grand Slam success, a Tuesday morning snapshot in Dublin may have calmed any fears.
Grand Slam winner Johnny Sexton has expressed the hope that Joe Schmidt might be persuaded to stay in Ireland beyond the 2019 World Cup.
As Ireland wallowed in the top-table acclaim of their third Grand Slam last Saturday evening, one of our northern friends decided that it was the appropriate time to keep the good-news agenda flowing.
For a moment, it is as if the forbidding eminence of Twickenham has been transformed into a wondrous snow globe. As the lights are dimmed to reveal a dismal dusk beneath a charcoal sky, artificial fireworks illuminate a success showered by a snow flurry.
Ireland captain Rory Best believes that the second-best side in the world are "greedy and competitive" as they aim to kick on from their Grand Slam triumph.
IRELAND captain Rory Best believes that the second-best side in the world are "greedy and competitive" as they aim to kick on from their Grand Slam triumph.
Destiny awaits Joe Schmidt's side in Twickenham. Three times this century, they have denied England a Grand Slam; now the football boots are on other feet as the English seek to do unto the away side what was visited upon them in 2001, 2011 and 2017.
The last - and only - time Tadhg Furlong was in Twickenham, you could say he didn't know his a**e from his elbow.
Joe Schmidt refused to get drawn into a war of words across the Irish Sea with counterpart Eddie Jones after the Australian's “scummy” comments.
Ivan Stockdale was 13 years old when Jack Kyle helped Ireland win their first Grand Slam in 1948.
The last time Ireland had secured a championship title before having a tilt at a Grand Slam was in 1982; the priorities were slightly different back then.
England's only chance of beating Ireland this weekend will be based upon their attempts to focus on the one glaring weakness that has been regularly exposed, and occasionally punished, in the course of Joe Schmidt's championship-winning campaign.
Paradise postponed; a coronation delayed.
Jonathan Sexton says he is determined to win a Grand Slam next week in Twickenham to ice the cake of a third Six Nations title in five years under Joe Schmidt.
IRISH coach Joe Schmidt lost his voice before Ireland 's 28-8 win against Scotland but he was still able to roar out a defiant message as his side head to Twickenham looking to secure a Paddy Slam.
What about ye big man?" The familiar Borders burr booms, bear-like.
As a fall from grace, it was quite the precipitous plunge for one seemingly so favoured by Joe Schmidt.
IRELAND coach Joe Schmidt has insisted his side are capable of offering much more than a route one approach as he unveiled his side to face Scotland ahead of the fourth leg of a potential Grand Slam.
Grand Slam D-Day may still be some time away for an Ireland squad seeking to tread the same footsteps as their predecessors from 2009 but still nobody dares to speak of it.
Tadhg Furlong has declared himself fit ahead of Saturday's fourth leg of a potential Grand Slam against Scotland.
"If only we could train like this all the time, we'd be a very dangerous squad." Brian Ashton, January 29 1998.
He won't admit it publicly but privately there is at least one Irishman who won't be mired in dire despair should his native land slip up against the Scots next Saturday.
Connacht take centre stage this weekend as the only two surviving Guinness PRO14 fixtures, as luck would have it, are staged in the competition's novel South African territory.
As Sam Arnold takes his leave, it is a wonder that he doesn't pivot on the spot while clutching a rabbit's foot in one hand and thwacking the wooden dais with another.
The weather has claimed another PRO 14 fixture after Edinburgh announced the postponement of their fixture against Munster.
AS the green shirts flocked to greet Cian Healy's bonus-point try for Ireland, one of them spotted a desultory figure in red sheepishly trudging towards his posts.
Shaun Edwards knew there was something special the first time he saw Andy Farrell with a rugby ball in his hand.
Even now, though he is 18,000km away in another hemisphere, Bundee Aki cannot escape from the teachings of the omnipotent Hercules.
There is no substitute for hard work and no substitute who works harder than Seán Cronin.
IRELAND will not take risks with any of their walking wounded ahead of this Saturday's crunch NatWest Six Nations clash with Wales at Lansdowne Road.
Two days after Shane Williams had scored his ninth World Cup try, and his 57th in all Tests, against Ireland at the Westpac, the 34-year-old knocked on Warren Gatland's Wellington hotel room door.
Andrew Conway has quashed any potential doubts about his desire to feature for Ireland at the 2019 World Cup by inking a new deal which will see him stay in Ireland until 2020.
The two best sides in the Guinness PRO14 meet twice in the space of three weeks but, sadly, the shadow of the Six Nations looms large.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen is confident that Garry Ringrose could do a job against Wales next week – despite being left out of his side to face Scarlets tomorrow.
Wales have vowed to move on from last Saturday's TMO farce and target Ireland aerially when the sides meet on Saturday week after World Rugby apologised for denying Gareth Anscombe a try in their 12-6 defeat by England at Twickenham.