Donal Lenihan - Columnist - IRISH EXAMINER

DONAL LENIHAN: The last place a Lion wants to be? Sitting in a corporate box

There is nothing worse for a player, having to answer questions about a game that you had visualised playing in for months and yet find yourself surplus to requirements, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: How All Blacks hit the Lions where it hurts

The opening test of a Lions series is a journey into the unknown. Everything the Lions coaching staff have done in the last five weeks, since the earliest arrivals introduced themselves for those pre-tour camps at the Vale of Glamorgan and Carton House, has been geared towards this moment.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Half-back gold on show at Eden Park

With little preparation time, the opening test of a Lions series can often be decided by poor selection.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Pressure is on for the All Blacks who dare not lose Test opener

Hard to believe that, given the incessant pre-tour hype that started out months in advance, this Lions tour has already passed the halfway point, with six games played.

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DONAL LENIHAN: The latest Gatlandgate could linger for a while

The one constant with Warren Gatland over the years is his ability to generate controversy. It is something that doesn’t bother him unduly, even if you can be assured of some tetchy press conferences over the days and weeks ahead.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Next seven days vital for Lions as selections for first test will be nailed down or squandered

With four games played this Lions squad now fully appreciate the severity of the task ahead of them in the test series, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Party piece is over. From now on everybody wants Lions’ scalp

Tana Umaga, the centrepiece of one of the most contentious incidents in Lions history, wants to be the first New Zealand coach on this tour to claim a Lions scalp, and that will to win will continue everywhere the tourists travel, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Lions brand has become a huge cash generator since first tour

For the financial viability of the international game in particular, there is far more riding on a competitive Lions series than many appreciate, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Time for Munster to assess and move forward

A chastening end to what has proved one of the most horrifically demanding and challenging seasons any group of players and management has ever had to endure.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Red alert as Munster on mission to scratch a seven-year-itch

Across a season of 31 competitive games, Leinster registered 23 wins, a single draw and only seven defeats, writes Donal Lenihan

Donal Lenihan

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DONAL LENIHAN: Sarries’ Lions have proved their mettle to Gatland. Can Munster and Leinster Lions do likewise?

The lack of an Irish presence may have dampened our enthusiasm in the buildup to the Champions Cup final but, in the end, worthy finalists Saracens and Clermont Auvergne produced a captivating spectacle.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Ireland already casting an eye towards Rugby World Cup 2023

You might be forgiven for thinking this is a bit of a down week, rugby wise, but you would be wrong, with a few significant events looming on the horizon.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Seriously IRFU, it’s long past time to give club game respect

Joey Carbery and Darren Sweetnam played in last year’s Ulster Bank final before going on to great things this season, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Buzz is back but Munster must address shortcomings in attack

On a monumental, if ultimately disappointing, weekend for Irish rugby, one hopes valuable lessons will be learned by all concerned, including those responsible for running the club game in this country.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Painful lessons learned as Euro bubble well and truly burst

From boom to bust in the space of 24 hours. 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Munster won’t put up with any lip today: 3 areas that will shape today's semi-final

The odds are stacked against them but Munster wouldn’t have it any other way. Donal Lenihan looks at three areas that will shape today’s semi-final.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Leigh Halfpenny lucky to get the nod at Simon Zebo’s expense

The British and Irish Lions squad announcement followed the usual pattern — a majority of predictable selections, a few left field picks, some surprise omissions along with the customary bolter. Warren Gatland was always good for a few of those and in Ross Moriarty, Ben Te’o and Ireland’s Jared Payne, he didn’t disappoint.

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DONAL LENIHAN: The 2009 Lions squad announcement unsettled Munster. The lesson must be learned

I have always believed that the announcement of the 2009 Lions squad to tour South Africa, eleven days before that epic Heineken Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster in front of 82,000 people at Croke Park, played a key role in the southern province’s demise that day, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: My Lions squad: Getting the chemistry right is key

Given all the other challenges Warren Gatland faces, getting the balance to the squad right is one of the few totally within his control, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Munster’s biggest battle off the field as they need Rassie Erasmus to stay

Munster’s squad needs stability and another two seasons under the watchful eye of the former Springbok, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Munster and Leinster savour sweet scent of two Champions Cup semi-finals

It will be a cause of much celebration, not least in the Neuchatel offices of the Champions Cup organisers, that the Irish are back at the summit of European rugby.

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