Donal Lenihan - Columnist - IRISH EXAMINER

Ian Keatley needs to be more assured in his game management.

DONAL LENIHAN: Ian Keatley needs to be Munster’s special K

Three key issues to decide the Pro12 final
1. O’Connell’s last stand
2. Who deals better with conquering mental demons?
3. Half-backs will decide this one


DONAL LENIHAN: Glasgow Warriors stand in the way of fitting farewell to the ultimate warrior

How appropriate the two sides finishing first and second in the regular season contest the Guinness Pro 12 final in Belfast next Saturday. Like the league, both semi-finals went to the wire with a single score separating the teams after two great clashes over the weekend.

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DONAL LENIHAN: A bit of proper shoeing never did anyone any harm

Saturday’s Champions Cup final proved a far better game than anticipated in advance. 

Michael Cheika

DONAL LENIHAN: Wallabies see writing on the wall, so they adapt to try and change it

Before looking forward to the inaugural Champions Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday, I feel compelled to examine the implications of an announcement last week that attracted minimal attention on this side of the world.


DONAL LENIHAN: Why overburdened Leinster need helping hand from IRFU

Leinster will be burdened by massive regrets this week as they somehow attempt to patch themselves up for an unforgiving five-day turnaround with the season-defining outing against Ulster in Belfast on Friday night. 


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.

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.


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.


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

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

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.


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

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


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.

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.


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.

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. 


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

In sport it’s always about the next game. 

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. 

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.