Sport Rugby

Wednesday 22 November 2017

O'Driscoll risks strife and limb for decider

A week in which Denis Leamy became the third Munster international forward to retire recently from the game because of recurring injury brought to mind some decidedly prescient remarks by Brian O'Driscoll. Speaking at this time in 2009 about the physical demands of the professional game, he said: "We don't yet know how long a career a player can have, but the demands on the body are increasing all the time.

"A career could last seven years, or 10, or maybe 12, if you're lucky enough," he added. "But with the hits getting bigger and the speed of the game getting faster, you're going to need more rest-time between games, especially the big games.

"You can't play a big game and then have a big training session a couple of days later, when you're bashing one another. Smart coaches are realising this. And you have to speak up for yourself. If you feel you're not up to it, you've got to say so, otherwise you're only going to damage yourself, with inevitable consequences for the team."

All of which illustrates how desperately he wanted to play in last Saturday's Heineken Cup final, only eight days after keyhole surgery on damaged knee cartilage.

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The new square-ball rule claimed its first victim last weekend and it wasn't a member of the refereeing fraternity. At the end of Laois's defeat to Longford, Michael Duffy's decision not to allow Kevin Meaney's injury-time goal from a free to stand for Laois caused massive confusion in RTÉ Radio's Sport on Sunday studio.

Neither commentator Pauric Lodge, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Con Murphy nor analyst Ross Carr could understand why the Sligo referee chose to disallow the goal as they believed it wasn't a square ball. Murphy asked, "Is there any theory there as to why . . . ?" "The square ball is very much up in the air as to what the precise rule is. That was the suspicion here but it's very hard to tell what the referee's reading was on it," was Lodge's punning reply.

What they didn't realise was that the old square-ball rule still applies to free-kicks and several helpful listeners texted in to enlighten them. At least the referee knew the rules.

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MISFORTUNE struck twice in UCD's pre-match warm-up sessions in the last 10 days. The first casualty occurred before the Friday game at Turners Cross, with midfielder James Kavanagh forced to cry off. It was a bad blow for the Students, who lost 4-2 to Cork City, but a double blow for Kavanagh, who had just been called up to the Irish under 19s for their UEFA elite qualifying phase.

Then on Monday at Belfield, Mark Langtry had to cry off before the game with Sligo Rovers. This had a happier outcome, as Tyrone McNelis came in for his debut and contributed handsomely to UCD's 1-0 win over the league leaders.

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GER SIGGINS, co-author of Lansdowne Road, the Stadium, the Matches, the Greatest Days, looks like he has another winner on his hands with a rugby-themed children's novel.

Rugby Spirit tells the story of Eoin Madden, a boy from Tipperary who comes to boarding school in Dublin where he is introduced to the oval ball. His talent for Gaelic games comes in handy, but it's his encounter with a slightly strange rugby player at the Aviva Stadium which really sparks his progress.

And there's a twist too which we won't spoil, but suffice to say there's a link to real-life which young readers will find fascinating. Rugby Spirit is a brilliant story for rugby-mad youngsters, and its simple approach ensures it can be enjoyed just as much by those new to the game.

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A host of Ireland's top athletes descended on Limerick last night for a unique reunion of Limerick's Olympians. The gathering coincided with the launch of an initiative by Limerick City of Sport to encourage running.

A series of Olympic trails are set to be developed around the city and county and each run will be named after a Limerick Olympian. Three of the county's most famous athletes, Frank O'Mara, Mick O'Shea and Niall O'Shaughnessy, all returned from the USA to help launch the project.

Dermot Gilleece, Aisling Crowe,

Seán Ryan, Fergus McDonnell

and Marie Crowe

ssport@independent.ie

Sunday Indo Sport

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