Donal Lenihan - Columnist - IRISH EXAMINER

DONAL LENIHAN: Champions Cup a qualified success

News last week the appointment of a chairman and a director general have had to be put on hold for the time being offered a timely reminder of the difficulties faced in satisfying the diverse interests of the stakeholders on the board of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), says Donal Lenihan.

Munster's Paul O'Connell in action against Sale Sharks. Pic: Inpho.

DONAL LENIHAN: Munster would be delighted to have Leinster’s problems

There were different agendas at play for Leinster, Munster and Ulster approaching their final pool games in the inaugural Champions Cup over the weekend, writes Donal Lenihan.

Gerhard van den Heever: Could have star potential for Munster.

DONAL LENIHAN: Reality check for Munster rugby

IT’S difficult to escape the feeling that Munster’s comprehensive defeat at the hands of Saracens was an accident waiting to happen, says Donal Lenihan.


DONAL LENIHAN: A long way back to the top for Munster

As if things weren’t bad enough, Saracens finished on a high with their third try of the day accompanied by that despicable Chris Ashton swan dive.

JJ Hanrahan

DONAL LENIHAN: The system has failed JJ Hanrahan

IT’S been a testing week for the Munster set-up despite that bonus point win over Zebre, writes Donal Lenihan. 

LEADING ROLE: Beating Munster is another significant step in the right direction for Connacht under the leadership of coach Pat Lam, given that it has only happened twice in the last 42 encounters. Picture: Inpho

DONAL LENIHAN: Connacht going in right direction

Nothing ever comes easy for Connacht. Their constant battle for recognition and the right to sit as an equal partner with the other three provinces in the eyes of the IRFU has raged for over a century.


DONAL LENIHAN: Ireland ready to prove the perfect host for World Cup

Sitting in the stand in Semple Stadium as Cork and Tipperary contested a wondrous draw in an electric atmosphere back in 1987, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if rugby was the number one sport in Ireland, writes Donal Lenihan.


DONAL LENIHAN: Munster’s unsung heroes rise to the challenge

The international contingent get all the breaks. With Joe Schmidt hosting a pre-Christmas camp in Carton House early in the week, the onus fell on the supporting cast in the provinces with Gordon D’Arcy the only player who started in Ireland’s last outing against Australia asked to play in the festive derbies in Limerick and Belfast yesterday.


DONAL LENIHAN: Huge year ahead for Connacht rugby

If you needed any more confirmation that the rugby landscape has changed immeasurably with the advent of professionalism, then look at the demands placed on our provincial squads over the festive period.


DONAL LENIHAN: Tries hold key to Munster’s rugby destiny

The difference in the perceived challenges facing Munster and Leinster over the weekend is reflected in the fact that Leinster find themselves roundly criticised despite their win over Harlequins, while Munster have received a very positive response for their achievement in rescuing a bonus point in defeat from a game that could have run away from them at one stage, writes Donal Lenihan.


DONAL LENIHAN: Monumental Munster effort secures Euro rugby lifeline

Munster have built a reputation on delivering big performances when they’re least expected, and to survive the type of examination they were to get yesterday at the Stade Marcel Michelin, nothing less than a season’s best would suffice, writes Donal Lenihan.

A dejected Johne Murphy following Munster's loss to Clermont Auvergne. The Reds must get something out of their return trip to France next weekend.

DONAL LENIHAN: Time for another Munster rugby miracle

WITH home games against Munster and Saracens to come, Clermont Auvergne have grabbed Pool 1 by the throat and are firmly in control of their destiny, writes Donal Lenihan.


DONAL LENIHAN: Mighty Clermont pack a deadly punch as Irish rugby gets a dose of reality

After the high of the autumn international series and the feel good factor attaching to the confirmation during the week that Ireland will bid to host a World Cup in 2023, it was inevitable that Irish rugby would be dealt a dose of reality some time soon, writes Donal Lenihan.

Munster training

DONAL LENIHAN: Munster rugby is facing a stiff Clermont challenge

I’m not sure how long it’s been since Munster sat on top of the Pro 12, but there must be a feeling of quiet satisfaction within the squad as they head back into European action, writes Donal Lenihan.

CHASING PACK: Gordon D'Arcy attempts to break the tackle of Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper and Ben McCalman. Picture: Colm O'Neill

DONAL LENIHAN: Ireland must learn from 2007 meltdown

So where do we stand after the autumn interntionals, asks Donal Lenihan?

Michael Hooper's impact has been such that he was handed the captaincy of Australia at the tender age of 23 and has already accumulated 40 caps. Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

DONAL LENIHAN: How Ireland can blunt Hooper’s impact

Rhys Ruddock and Peter O’Mahony will have to workin tandem to negate the influence of Michael Hooper

MATCH READY: Australia star Kurtley Beale during squad training at Blackrock RFC ahead of Saturday's Test against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

DONAL LENIHAN: Wounded Wallabies a dangerous proposition

Despite all the upheaval, history has shown the Aussies are a resilient bunch.

Ireland's Dave Foley offloads to Tommy O'Donnell during yesterday's Autumn International against Georgia at Aviva Stadium. Picture: Brendan Moran

DONAL LENIHAN: Plenty of positives in trial run

Every November series carries a game fraught with danger or opportunity, depending on your state of mind.

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt backs himself and that unwavering belief and clarity of action rubs off on all around him.

DONAL LENIHAN: The Joe Schmidt you don’t know

Saturday’s stunning win over the Springboks was all the more pleasurable given that few saw it coming in the wake of a very difficult period on the injury front, writes Donal Lenihan.


DONAL LENIHAN: Sexton must show Pollard who’s boss

The visitors hold all the aces in terms of recent form, preparation, settled combinations and the confidence that stems from beating New Zealand last time out.

Handre Pollard: The 20-year-old is set to play a pivotal role for South Africa.

DONAL LENIHAN: Why Schmidt needs to Boks clever

A genuine treat awaits. Notwithstanding the fact New Zealand will be giving Dublin a skip this month, some of rugby’s standout performers are coming to town in November, writes Donal Lenihan.