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Attacks might Stoke' goal run

Attacks on his home by demented rival club supporters might be the motivational factor to push Anthony Stokes ahead of Gary Hooper as Celtic's top goal-scorer.

Hooper's hat-trick against St Mirren put him on 12, one goal ahead of the 23-year-old Dubliner. "The two of us want to be top goal-scorer," says Anthony. Knowing manager Neil Lennon is in the transfer market for a top-flight striker doesn't bother Stokes. "It will help the team," he says.

Hopefully, Anthony won't be opening his Christmas parcels with a bucket of water.

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While RTé's Morning Ireland were flagging an upcoming interview with FAI boss John Delaney to discuss Giovanni Trapattoni's contract extension yesterday, the 72-year-old Italian could be heard on Newstalk's Breakfast.

"The famous teams need to have respect for Ireland," he said. "We can have a good position in qualifying ... eh ... the quarter-finals. It won't be easy but with our mentality, we can do well."

Newstalk owner Denis O'Brien will continue to part-fund the Ireland manager's salary.

"The FAI board of management are particularly grateful to Denis O'Brien for his continuing contribution," says John Delaney.

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Kenny Egan's winning performances in claiming gold at the Olympic Test Event in London will be an important morale-booster for the Neilstown boxer as he prepares to win back his Irish national light-heavyweight title from Joe Ward. Kenny's fightback from 7-3 down after the first round in the final against Brazilian Yamaguchi Fiorentino, which he won 22-20, was impressive. But he might look to his semi-final defeat of Australian Damien Hooper for the motivation he needs ahead of the National finals.

Hooper, ranked No2 in the world, is the 2010 Olympic Youth Champion. Egan will no doubt analyse his performance in beating him 15-11 in London and perhaps measure it against Joe Ward's 6-1 victory over Hooper enroute to gold in last year's World Youth Championships in Baku.

Both Irish boxers will be acutely aware that they have yet to qualify for London 2012, something Hooper already achieved when he reached the quarter-finals in the AIBA World Championships in Baku last month.

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"A really wow event" is how Ireland's Pool A group match at Thomond Park in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup is being described by Shannon Region Conference & Sports Bureau development manager Karen Brosnahan.

The finals will be played in four countries -- England, Wales, France and Ireland. With no matches being played in the traditional rugby league heartland of South Yorkshire, questions are being asked about the decision to play in Thomond Park, a rugby union stronghold. "It's important that we remind ourselves that rugby league is played in other parts of Europe," says tournament director Nigel Wood. "Rugby League Ireland have made some significant gains over the past decade, so we wanted to show our support."


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