DONAL LENIHAN: Anyone up to the challenge of lassooing Leinster?

In a PRO14 final of real quality, illuminated by nine smashing tries, Leinster turned on the class in their final appearance of the season to achieve what even their stellar side that dominated Europe between 2009 and 2012 found beyond them — a European and domestic double.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Testing summer awaits Munster and Johann van Graan

Taking and giving a five or 10-metre pass is a fundamental part of the game yet the skills required to deliver under pressure are often overlooked, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Ignore the scoreline. Munster still have a long way to travel

The opposing mindsets coming into this game served to set the ground rules. Munster’s quest for silverware for the first time since 2011 stood in stark contrast to Leinster who were fresh and, in all probability, still recovering from parading their latest European conquest a short distance down the road in Donnybrook, only six days earlier, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Why Leinster’s key numbers all stack up for future dominance

The target on Leinster’s back has just got bigger. That’s the way it has always been for champions. First up, it’s Munster gunning for a win over the newly crowned European champions that would propel them into a third Guinness Pro 12/14 final in four seasons.

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DONAL LENIHAN: The scary thing? Leinster capable of getting better

The fact that Leinster were made fight much harder than had been anticipated to prevail in a pulsating Champions Cup final that went right down to the last kick off the game will, you feel, stand to their exciting young squad in the years to come.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Have Racing 92 erred with their selection?

Donal Lenihan examines the decisive factors today at the San Mamés Stadium

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DONAL LENIHAN: There’s a steel to this Racing side that will have Leinster on edge

Every sports person has experienced those god-awful days when you wish the ground would swallow you up, when you’d prefer to stick you head in the sand or become invisible to all and sundry.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Should Leinster be pressured into diluting their resources because another province is struggling?

Once again, the professional model that pertains in Ireland is being hailed as the best in class. That’s what comes with success. Everyone looks at what you’re doing in an attempt to close the gap, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Airport frustrations and European disappointments, we knew thee well

There’s nothing worse than the chaotic airport scenes that invariably follow these painful European exits.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Ryan and Rog inflict further semi-final pain on Munster

The heartache continues. This is six semi-final defeats in European competition since Paul O’Connell lifted the Heineken Cup in Cardiff ten years ago, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: If defencewins trophies, Munster are in a good place=

It will be Sunday evening before we know for sure which two of the four sides left standing in this season’s Champions Cup got their preparations spot on for the semi-finals, but at this juncture it would be a surprise, notwithstanding they are playing in France, if Munster isn’t one of them.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Rassie Erasmus fosters Springbok renaissance

After only spending 18 months immersed in the Irish game, newly appointed Springbok director of rugby and head coach Rassie Erasmus has already begun to implement many of the structures he encountered in a similar role with Munster to influence change in his country, writes Donal Lenihan

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DONAL LENIHAN: Dan Carter as a reserve? You know Racing 92 mean business

What Munster achieved against Toulon was staggering, says Donal Lenihan. But whether it will prove enough to topple a Racing 92 side that seems to be getting better as the season progresses remains to be seen.

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DONAL LENIHAN: The dramatic day the young fellows rose up

How special it was to witness a Munster side prevail, once again, against a team packed with serial game-breaker, writes Donal Lenihan

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DONAL LENIHAN: Why Keatley is Munster’s key man for Toulon test

The challenges facing the three Irish provinces in European quarter-finals this weekend.

 

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DONAL LENIHAN: Oh for some of Leinster’s strength in depth in Munster

The enormity of the challenge facing Leinster and Munster in their respective Champions Cup quarter-finals this weekend is capably captured by the fact their opponents, Saracens and Toulon, have won the last five Heineken/Champions Cups between them, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Joe Schmidt is the best thing to ever happen to Irish rugby

Just watching the positive energy Joe Schmidt brings to proceedings is infectious, writes Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: The Grand Slam class of 2018 stands alone

I would wager right now that it will be a long time before a team wins this tournament again by such a wide margin, says Donal Lenihan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Eddie’s ‘strongest’ England selection is a concern on Ireland’s day of destiny

Donal Lenihan looks at three challenges that will decide Ireland’s day of destiny.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Who else could have seamlessly fed in eight new players to Six Nations cauldron?

The Joe Schmidt era just gets better and better. So many boxes ticked as the clock ticks towards the 2019 World Cup.

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