Donal Lenihan

Rugby Columnist

Donal Lenihan: Around the world, rugby was never in greater need of progressive people

Donal Lenihan: Around the world, rugby was never in greater need of progressive people

With no rugby action for the foreseeable future, I’m about to park my pen for the summer. With the professional game facing its biggest financial crisis since ...

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Donal Lenihan: Rugby chiefs must solve problem of sluggish scrums

Donal Lenihan: Rugby chiefs must solve problem of sluggish scrums

A simple adjustment, made without fuss, for the betterment of the game. The decision last week to ban the practice of scoring a try against the pads surrounding ...

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Donal Lenihan: Irish rugby's roadmap to return taking shape

Donal Lenihan: Irish rugby's roadmap to return taking shape

Confusion reigns. Whether it was the Leaving Cert exams, the intercounty championships or the resumption of collective training for a variety of sports, the ground ...

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Donal Lenihan: Why the future looks bright for Munster in 2021

Donal Lenihan: Why the future looks bright for Munster in 2021

In normal circumstances we would be reviewing the Champions Cup semi-finals this Wednesday but with the quarter-finals postponed a few weeks ago, Leinster and Ulster ...

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Donal Lenihan: Memories of afternoons spent following Cork Hibs have lasted a lifetime

Donal Lenihan: Memories of afternoons spent following Cork Hibs have lasted a lifetime

Y OU have to be of a certain vintage for the recent passing of Dave Bacuzzi to register in your conscience.

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Donal Lenihan: Crisis shows the importance of clubs outside their sporting sphere

Donal Lenihan: Crisis shows the importance of clubs outside their sporting sphere

The coronavirus has set challenges for sports clubs and organisations across the spectrum. From a rugby perspective, the professional game is already in turmoil ...

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Donal Lenihan: Whoever said ‘time is a great healer’ never lost a Lions series

Donal Lenihan: Whoever said ‘time is a great healer’ never lost a Lions series

The plethora of re-runs of great games from the past — All-Ireland hurling and football finals, memorable matches in Test rugby, glorious nights on the European ...

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Donal Lenihan: The afternoon I discovered my dad was a Kerryman

Donal Lenihan: The afternoon I discovered my dad was a Kerryman

My first sporting memory

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Donal Lenihan: Rugby’s biggest challenge won’t be on the pitch — but in the boardroom

Donal Lenihan: Rugby’s biggest challenge won’t be on the pitch — but in the boardroom

If a week is a long time in politics, a month has proved an eternity for professional rugby, writes Donal Lenihan.

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Donal Lenihan: A win that changed the course of Irish rugby

Donal Lenihan: A win that changed the course of Irish rugby

A recent request for a personal auction item to benefit a most deserving cause found me checking the whereabouts of a unique Irish jersey. After a brief search, ...

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Donal Lenihan: Andy Farrell must prepare to jump from famine to a feast activity

Donal Lenihan: Andy Farrell must prepare to jump from famine to a feast activity

They say a picture paints a thousand words. That certainly rang true when studying the crestfallen appearance of new Ireland coach Andy Farrell, writes Donal Lenihan. ...

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Donal Lenihan: Match postponements a huge headache but they can lead to lasting memories

Donal Lenihan: Match postponements a huge headache but they can lead to lasting memories

A S if the sense of anger felt by the Irish players after the 24-12 defeat to England wasn’t bad enough, those emotions paled in comparison to the frustration ...

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Donal Lenihan: Dark days but next generation offers chink of light for future

Donal Lenihan: Dark days but next generation offers chink of light for future

THERE’S a quiet revolution taking place in the background to this season’s Six Nations that could have huge repercussions for Irish rugby.

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Donal Lenihan: Losing by 12 a minor miracle

Donal Lenihan: Losing by 12 a minor miracle

THE journey takes less than a minute but it’s the moment you know you’ve arrived at one of the best arenas in world rugby.

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Donal Lenihan: Ireland must exploit England's frailty

Donal Lenihan: Ireland must exploit England's frailty

TWO defeats against England in 2019 mean Andy Farrell faces big challenges tomorrow afternoon at Twickenham. So what needs to happen for Ireland to win?

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Donal Lenihan: My Garrett Fitzgerald degree course in rugby and life

Donal Lenihan: My Garrett Fitzgerald degree course in rugby and life

Donal Lenihan gives his personal reflections on Munster’s first CEO and his friend, Garrett Fitzgerald.

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Donal Lenihan: Is Eddie Jones trying to goad RFU into sacking him?

Donal Lenihan: Is Eddie Jones trying to goad RFU into sacking him?

What’s motivating Eddie Jones?

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Donal Lenihan: Why this W does wonders for the confidence

Donal Lenihan: Why this W does wonders for the confidence

It was a bit early in Andy Farrell’s tenure to be talking about a must-win game, but it was hard to escape the pivotal nature of Saturday’s tasty Six ...

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Donal Lenihan: Three key areas where Ireland must improve

Donal Lenihan: Three key areas where Ireland must improve

Ireland must win key battles in the contact zone, writes Donal Lenihan.

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Donal Lenihan: Fabien Galthie has inspired French renaissance

Donal Lenihan: Fabien Galthie has inspired French renaissance

With the nightmare of the World Cup in Japan finally consigned to history as the Andy Farrell era of Irish rugby got underway, it is somewhat ironic that the new ...

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Donal Lenihan: The win is a start. But no more than that

Donal Lenihan: The win is a start. But no more than that

Earlier in the week, new head coach Andy Farrell made the point that he wanted his Irish team to stand for something.

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Donal Lenihan: Time for Henderson to step up and lead Ireland

Donal Lenihan: Time for Henderson to step up and lead Ireland

Donal Lenihan looks at the recipe for opening day success in the 2020 Six Nations.

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Donal Lenihan: Andy Farrell and Gregor Townsend feeling different degrees of strain

Donal Lenihan: Andy Farrell and Gregor Townsend feeling different degrees of strain

Saturday’s Six Nation’s opener between Ireland and Scotland brings together two coaches at different stages of their journey. Both will be feeling the ...

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Donal Lenihan: Saracens may break up squad, but players’ mettle is beyond question

Donal Lenihan: Saracens may break up squad, but players’ mettle is beyond question

Saracens will be visiting clubs such as Ealing Trailfinders, Ampthill, and Hartpury RFC in the Green King IPA Championship next season, writes Donal Lenihan.

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Donal Lenihan: Leinster beware: Saracens may be down but they’re far from out

Donal Lenihan: Leinster beware: Saracens may be down but they’re far from out

On an explosive Saturday that saw Saracens relegated from the Gallagher Premiership on the eve of a must-win Champions Cup pool game against Racing 92, Munster took ...

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Donal Lenihan: Where has Munster's ability to escape tight spots gone?

Donal Lenihan: Where has Munster's ability to escape tight spots gone?

A run of two wins from their last eight games has increased the focus on the squad and management for all the wrong reasons.

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Donal Lenihan: Relying on Racing, Munster’s knockout hopes surely forlorn

Donal Lenihan: Relying on Racing, Munster’s knockout hopes surely forlorn

While a win over Ospreys is well within their compass, the fact that holders Saracens can still advance as a best runner up will suit them just fine.

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Donal Lenihan: Why I'm so enthusiastic about the new Andy Farrell era despite poisoned chalice talk

Donal Lenihan: Why I'm so enthusiastic about the new Andy Farrell era despite poisoned chalice talk

The official changing of the guard from Joe Schmidt to Andy Farrell took place in Abbotstown on the Sunday before Christmas.

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Donal Lenihan: A memorable year when I embraced the Rising Sun and won a cap at 59

Donal Lenihan: A memorable year when I embraced the Rising Sun and won a cap at 59

I thought my days of accumulating caps finished a long time ago, but not so. Thirty-three years after featuring for the British and Irish Lions as part of the IRB’s ...

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Donal Lenihan: Leinster look the part but 2020 could be year of the French

Donal Lenihan: Leinster look the part but 2020 could be year of the French

The Champions Cup is supposed to be the pinnacle for professional club rugby in Europe.

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Donal Lenihan: Munster misadventure hands Saracens the spark

Donal Lenihan: Munster misadventure hands Saracens the spark

It’s just short of four years since Munster last played Saracens in their new home at Allianz Park.

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Donal Lenihan: Larmour ready to be Ireland's starting full-back in Six Nations

Donal Lenihan: Larmour ready to be Ireland's starting full-back in Six Nations

Joe Schmidt appears to be the sacrificial lamb, thrown under the bus not only by Nucifora but later in the day by his captain Rory Best. Long live the king.

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Donal Lenihan: As Munster labour, the Big Blue powers its way to Europe’s No 1

Donal Lenihan: As Munster labour, the Big Blue powers its way to Europe’s No 1

It’s a bit early to be talking about defining games of the season, but it was difficult to avoid that assertion ahead of Munster’s Champions Cup encounter ...

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Donal Lenihan: When Munster traded blow  for blow at Vicarage Road

Donal Lenihan: When Munster traded blow for blow at Vicarage Road

Love them or loathe them, Saracens have played a big part in Munster’s celebrated European journey.

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Donal Lenihan: Leinster hot to trot but Munster can’t get cold feet

Donal Lenihan: Leinster hot to trot but Munster can’t get cold feet

The always pragmatic Leinster coach Leo Cullen summed things up best when describing Leinster’s hard-fought win away to Lyon on Saturday: “It’s ...

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Donal Lenihan: Thomond theatre and thunder but Saracens the ones left smiling

Donal Lenihan: Thomond theatre and thunder but Saracens the ones left smiling

Ireland’s so-called ‘green sweep’ on the opening weekend of the Heineken Champions Cup was always unlikely to be replicated in Round 2 given the ...

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Contenders lining up for their crown, but don’t rule out Sarries too soon

Contenders lining up for their crown, but don’t rule out Sarries too soon

I must admit to feeling a bit ambivalent about the opening round of Champions Cup action last weekend. Maybe I was reading so much about potential World Cup hangovers ...

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Connacht coup the pick of a restorative weekend

Connacht coup the pick of a restorative weekend

Not for the first time, Europe has proved the perfect antidote for pining Irish players looking for solace after the woes of an underwhelming World Cup campaign.

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Sarries saga a cold reminder of rugby realities after World Cup

Sarries saga a cold reminder of rugby realities after World Cup

There was something cathartic about the way Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup. It made you feel good about the sport. The interaction of fans from all over the world, ...

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Christmas dinner in the Farrell household could be enlightening

Christmas dinner in the Farrell household could be enlightening

As if we ever needed reminding, Saturday’s World Cup final highlighted that so much of modern-day sport is played out in the head.

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Four areas that will decide the World Cup final

Four areas that will decide the World Cup final

Donal Lenihan outlines where the game will be won and lost.

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Try explaining to security that a new knee and a pair of replacement hips are reason for alarms

Try explaining to security that a new knee and a pair of replacement hips are reason for alarms

Long tours can be challenging, especially when things don’t go to plan on the field of play. That’s why so many of the large Irish support base that ...

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Brute force won’t be enough for Boks after England’s tour de force

Brute force won’t be enough for Boks after England’s tour de force

With the cream having risen to the top and the four best sides left standing in the tournament providing two contrasting semi-final shootouts, we are left, with ...

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Gatland's Wales can find a way to survive mauling by Boks’ big beasts

Gatland's Wales can find a way to survive mauling by Boks’ big beasts

This World Cup serves to remind us that previous form or results counts for little. The fact that Ireland had won two of their previous encounters against New Zealand ...

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England will be New Zealand's biggest test in the tournament

England will be New Zealand's biggest test in the tournament

This is a contest fit for the final itself with the winner fancied to go all the way.

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The difficulty with rigid systems is players lose the ability to think on their feet, which kills spontaneity

The difficulty with rigid systems is players lose the ability to think on their feet, which kills spontaneity

Once again the wheat has been separated from the chaff at a World Cup and Ireland have been swept away in the clean-up.

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A victory for bravery, a defeat reeking of stagnation

A victory for bravery, a defeat reeking of stagnation

What is it about Ireland and World Cups? Right now it feels like a marriage made in hell.

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Ireland must drive to the finishing line and beyond

Ireland must drive to the finishing line and beyond

Donal Lenihan on the three areas Ireland need to master in today’s World Cup quarter-final

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'In New Zealand, they are predicting a 20-point win. That suits Ireland just fine'

'In New Zealand, they are predicting a 20-point win. That suits Ireland just fine'

It may have taken time to make an impact, but this World Cup has finally captured the interest and imagination of the Japanese public — thanks in no small ...

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This time, Schmidt’s selection posers are mostly good ones

This time, Schmidt’s selection posers are mostly good ones

With qualification for the knockout phase secured after an Ireland performance more in keeping with what we have come to expect from this squad, the only outstanding ...

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