Donal Lenihan - Columnist - IRISH EXAMINER

DONAL LENIHAN: As Leinster target ageing Toulon, Munster fire up new-look offence

The capture of Francis Saili could be the final piece in an exciting Munster backline for next season. The problem, ironically, could be in the tight five, writes Donal Lenihan.

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PASSION PLAY: Munster prop David Kilcoyne is put through his paces during a training session at CIT yesterday.

DONAL LENIHAN: Reasons for Ireland to be fearful in rugby World Cup

With that tantalising World Cup clash between Ireland and France cemented in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but watch the respective performances of Clermont Auvergne and Leinster over the weekend in the context of that crucial Pool D encounter.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Leinster limping but there’s more in them

Saturday’s quarter-final was Leinster’s 19th knockout game over the last four seasons... the fact they won 15 of those shows their understanding of what’s required on these occasions, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Sean O’Brien’s return tips scales for Leinster

The three areas where Leinster will be challenged by their English visitors today:

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Jerry Murray

DONAL LENIHAN: Farewell to braveheart Jerry Murray, a true giant of Munster rugby

On a week when Paul O’Connell worked wonders for the reputation of grizzled second-row forwards, another great presence in Munster rugby passed away peacefully after a long period of illness.

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DONAL LENIHAN: A lot achieved, a lot still left to be done

After last weekend, the World Cup just can’t come soon enough. 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Twists and shout: Medley of memories on special Six Nations Saturday

THE Six Nations championship has never witnessed a day like it. 221 points scored, 27 tries, 12 in that breathtaking game in the tournament finale at Twickenham. It was riveting stuff, writes Donal Linehan.

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Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne have the power and stepping ability to create big opportunities.

DONAL LENIHAN: Let’s unleash impact players earlier

To avoid the desperation of chasing a score, Ireland need to focus on three key goals at Murrayfield today, says Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Ireland v Wales: With all systems, you still need a spark

If the adage that you learn more in defeat holds true on this occasion then this reversal could well serve Ireland’s World Cup cause better in the long run.

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Ireland's Simon Zebo, left, and Rob Kearney joke around during yesterday's captain's  run in the Millennium Stadium.

DONAL LENIHAN: Welsh believe they have Ireland sussed

Wales have the attributes to turn an Irish strength into a potential weakness. Here are the three key areas of combat. 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Paul O’Connell deserves a special Irish performance on a very special day

In sport it’s always about the next game. 

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Joe Schmidt

DONAL LENIHAN: Joe Schmidt shows brain can defy brawn

Sunday’s magnificent win over England ensures Ireland will now have two bites at retaining their Six Nations championship title won in dramatic circumstances in Paris last year. 

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Ireland's Jared Payne gets to grips with England's Alex Goode during the Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium. Picture: Stephen McCarthy

DONAL LENIHAN: Time to pause for breath. And then the hard part.

In the context of where Irish rugby is heading over the next nine months, this Six Nations triumph was a hugely significant result, writes Donal Linehan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Ronan O’Gara: ‘JJ Hanrahan? I think he has the capability to be really special’

THE DONAL LENIHAN INTERVIEW
Ronan O’Gara chats about Dan Carter, George Ford and JJ Hanrahan with Donal Lenihan at yesterday’s Irish Examiner Rog and Ruby Breakfast in Cork city.

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KEY ROLE: The loss of Mike Brown, who is an  outstanding in the air, is a massive blow.

DONAL LENIHAN: England’s hungry pack presents massive threat to Ireland tomorrow

England won’t lack for confidence when they arrive in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow, says Donal Lenihan.

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Johnny Sexton: Checked for concussion against France.

DONAL LENIHAN: High intensity game takes heavy toll rugby players

We used to have a call amongst the forwards long ago, in the heat of an international battle, when we needed to slow the pace down a bit, says Donal Lenihan.

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Simon Zebo is tackled by Guilhen Guirado, left, and Pascal Pape, France. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

DONAL LENIHAN: Size and scale of Ireland’s next challenge self-evident

After only two rounds of action, this year’s Six Nations championship has already taken on the appearance of a two-horse race — notwithstanding Wales’ right to dispute that.

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton, centre, watches team-mate Paul O'Connell in action during squad training.

DONAL LENIHAN: England emerge as greatest threat to Ireland in Six Nations championship

England appear to have stumbled on the missing ingredient of a cutting edge that has eluded them for years.

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DONAL LENIHAN: A good day for those looking to prove themselves

GAMES Against Italy tend to go exactly to type, especially when you play them in Rome. Always dogged and difficult to break down, they excel in dragging teams down to their level.

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Ian Keatley's  tactical kicking game allied to his more fluid relationship with Conor Murray helped him get the nod at out-half.

DONAL LENIHAN: Joe Schmidt will have Ian Keatley well versed for opener in Rome

1 Authority at half-back.

After those confidence-boosting wins over South Africa and Australia last November, Ireland’s half-back combination of Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray was correctly lauded as best in class.

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PEAK PERFORMANCE: Isaac Boss lets out a pass during Ireland squad training at Carton House.

DONAL LENIHAN: Six Nations will be decided at 10

You suspect Schmidt wants Sexton back as soon as possible and will throw him inat the deep end against the French, says Donal Lenihan.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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