SPORTS COLUMNISTS

ANTHONY DALY: Everyone must face League pressure cooker head-on

In the middle of December, I spotted the story online about your man, Keval Nakeshree, the fella from Gloucester who placed a £5 bet on Leicester at 1000/1 to be top of the Premier League at Christmas. My heart went out to the poor auld devil at the time. ‘Jeez, what a bet, it’s a pity he’ll come up short’. After Leicester defeated Everton 3-2 on Christmas week, Mr Nakeshree picked up a cool £5,000.

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PAT KEANE: New Irish track capable of facilitating racing in winter months needed

The loss of yet another meeting to the weather this week - Limerick on Wednesday - highlighted one of the problems National Hunt racing has in this country.

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LARRY RYAN: Leicester get sneak peek of a different pressure

It’s different now. Maybe they caught the first glimpses even as they trooped back to the halfway line after Robert Huth’s looping clincher at the Etihad.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Three key issues as Ireland seek to capitalise on French weaknesses

1 French leadership void needs to be exploited

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RUBY WALSH: Ballycasey poised to rebound from Thyestes Chase disappointment

I could have gone to Newbury this afternoon, but choosing which horse to ride would have been difficult so I decided to stay at home for what I hope could be easier pickings at Gowran Park.

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BRENDAN O'BRIEN: Cam Newton was a bad loser but is there such thing as a good one?

IT can’t be often that American football kindles thoughts of Shakespeare but watching last weekend’s Super Bowl prompted the unavoidable feeling that it was all, well, much ado about nothing.

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RONAN O'GARA: Paul O’Connell? The guy is different gravy

Paul O’Connell is not short of options in his retirement, writes Ronan O’Gara

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PAUL ROUSE: Why would you be a referee with the insults they get?

A permanent haze shrouds the dividing line between heroism and stupidity – somewhere in that haze live generations of GAA referees.

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BRENDAN O'BRIEN: Coaching looks a natural progression for Paul O'Connell

Paul O’Connell may be in two minds about the prospect of a career in coaching, but there are no doubts among his former team-mates as to whether the former Munster and Ireland captain has what it takes to succeed on the far side of the tramlines. 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Six Nations championship will come down to survival of the fittest

If the opening sequence of games highlighted anything, it’s that the 2016 Six Nations title may well end up in the arms of the team with the shortest casualty list. The ability to close out tight contests is now coming down to having your key players in situ on the home straight.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Paul O’Connell was destined to be a Munster lifer after all

SO everyone's go-to man has called it a day. For a rugby player who gave so much for so long, he deserved to bow out in a gladiatorial manner, writes Donal Lenihan

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JOHN FOGARTY: More to matching Cats than just muscle

This is Kilkenny. Kilkenny win things. Kilkenny lift heavier weights and hit harder than any other team. Kilkenny are smart. Be like Kilkenny.

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KIERAN SHANNON: Coaches realising humility can be true path to greatness

“It begins with humility.”

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DAVID SHONFIELD: Tax furore puts new cloud over Serie A

Rule one of Italian football is that whenever Italy are due to compete in a major tournament, a big scandal will break in the previous six months.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Ireland need Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney back in the mix for Paris

If the opening two contests of this season’s RBS Six Nations disappointed to some degree, yesterday’s amazing clash in Dublin served to restore everyone’s faith in northern hemisphere rugby.

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BRENDAN O'BRIEN: Let’s keep some perspective on Ireland performances

At least that’s Argentina put to bed.

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MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Why true great Sonia O'Sullivan deserves to get her dues

You probably heard about the Chinese women last week — the runners who beat Sonia O’Sullivan out of gold medals in the World Championships held back in 1993, the ones who supposedly subsisted on turtle blood to set astonishing records in distance running.

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PAT KEANE: Limini looks the real deal

Prior to Fairyhouse last Saturday, Willie Mullins had what could be best described as three good things lined up for the Cheltenham Festival, Faugheen, Douvan and Un De Sceaux.

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RUBY WALSH: Improving Some Neck can do business in finale

A great day’s racing at Leopardstown begins with a Grade One Juvenile Hurdle and I hope I’ve picked the right one — Let’s Dance — from Willie Mullins’ three.

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LARRY RYAN: Mayo play a whole new blame game

After their speedy acceptance that the concussed Lee Keegan should have been substituted earlier in last Sunday’s defeat by Cork, the Mayo Gaelic football set-up has been widely praised for a constructive contribution to the player welfare ‘conversation’.

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LIAM MACKEY: All the pressure's on Man City in riches v rags clash against Leicester

In a Premier League awash with money, Manchester City v Leicester is probably as close to a riches v rags contest as we’ll get.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Three tactical challenges Ireland must master in the Six Nations

Donal Lenihan's recipe for Irish success in the first Six Nations game against Wales.

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DARA O'CINNEIDE: Stephen Rochford needs dig out from Mayo players

It is difficult to tell exactly at what point players start to play for their manager as well as for their team. Players know immediately when everyone is pulling in the same direction, but it is that bit harder to figure it out from outside the group.

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