Donal Lenihan - Columnist - IRISH EXAMINER

DONAL LENIHAN: Is this the man who is going to save Irish provincial rugby?

It may have its faults but the Guinness PRO12 has managed to hold the imagination of fans, across the Celtic nations at the very least, as it enters its version of Super Saturday in three days time.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Getting Munster out of the red

Musgrave Park has hosted some of the greatest days in the history of Munster rugby. 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Unlike Munster, Connacht stuck with long-term plan and are reaping rewards

Four lessons that Donal Lenihan learned from his latest trip to Galway...

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DONAL LENIHAN: Pro 12 let down by declining standard of refereeing

After a brief respite, due to the unwelcome failure to qualify for the quarter-final phase of Champions Cup action, Munster and Ulster recommence their quest to join Leinster and Connacht in securing one of the seven slots available to the Guinness Pro 12 sides in next season’s tournament.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Interprovincial rugby is alive and kicking once again

With no Champions Cup rugby on the horizon for Munster, Leinster, and Ulster, the clock is being rewound and the internal warfare that defined the treasured inter-provincial series for over a century is back in fashion.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Pray that Joe Schmidt returns for another run

So there you have it. Another Six Nations championship has come and gone in a never-ending season kickstarted by those World Cup warm-up games back in August.

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DONAL LENIHAN: The Andy Farrell factor can now be of benefit to Ireland

AN England Grand Slam only five months after their rugby world fell apart in their own global tournament just serves to show once again that, in sport, the pain of calamitous defeat can serve to inspire new beginnings.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Three key issues that will decide intriguing Scotland finale

The Hardie boys smell a famous victory... 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Maro Itoje a global star in the making

Such was the reaction of the Scottish crowd at the final whistle in Murrayfield on Sunday you would have thought they had won the Six Nations championship.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Simon Zebo needs some arm around the shoulder encouragement

After what is proving a pretty soul-destroying season for Irish rugby on both the provincial and international front, at last, a bit of respite. An energy-filled, try-fest on a bright and sunny day that even elicited a sustained Mexican Wave in the second half, brought smiles back to the faces of a beleaguered management and a restless rugby public.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Three things Ireland must deliver in Italian job

Patience will be key for Ireland to expose Italy’s limitations...

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DONAL LENIHAN: There’s good reason for Ireland to drop debutants in at the Six Nations deep end

Is there any such thing as the right time to blood a new cap? In exposing a player to Test rugby for the first time, what are the management hoping to achieve? Is the player in question likely to grow into a key front-line performer down the line or are you picking someone with a view to adding to the depth of your squad, increasing the options available in the event of injury?

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DONAL LENIHAN: When enough is enough: How much more can Irish players take?

With just two rounds of Six Nations action to go, it’s time to take stock. To date, I have seen Ireland live in all three contests; England, Wales, and France twice each in the flesh, and Italy once.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Disappointment? Yes, but this was a defeat with difference

Ireland may not have been interested in getting into a war of words with Eddie Jones in the build-up to Saturday’s face-off at Twickenham, preferring instead to launch a war of attrition against the lippy Aussie and his English team where it mattered most, on the field, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Three things Joe Schmidt's Ireland must produce to surprise England

To frustrate England, it is imperative to stop Billy Vunipola from making his trademark big carries, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Time for Ireland to turn pressure into points

If Ireland are to salvage something tangible from this season’s Six Nations championship, then Twickenham is the place to do it.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Joe Schmidt’s Ireland facing tough task keeping up with Eddie Jones's England

The swagger is back. England trooped off the luscious turf of the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday afternoon, happy in their own skin and beginning to feel good about themselves again.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Injuries on top of insult for Joe Schmidt’s walking wounded

Last week, any possibility of a Grand Slam or Triple Crown was eliminated on the first outing. This week the potential for a historic third championship on the bounce has also gone west. With England next up in Twickenham, and the casualty rate rising by the day, Ireland are struggling.

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

Donal Lenihan looks ahead to Ireland's clash with France.

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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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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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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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