Head Coach Andy Farrell at open squad training at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, last week. [Inpho/Laszlo Geczo]

Irish squad heads to Murrayfield

Irish Head Coach Andy Farrell is optimistic that most of his sidelined stars will be fit for selection ahead of the trip to Murrayfield to play Scotland in the Six Nations on Sunday next.

 After France punctured Scotland’s rising hopes in Paris 10 days ago Ireland is now the only country left chasing the Grand Slam, with France  level with Scotland and England on 10 points, Italy has one point, while Wales have lost all three of their games. Captain Johnny Sexton, prop forward Tadhg Furlong, scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and centres Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw were all unavailable for our win over Italy in Rome but they should in the squad on Sunday. All five trained last week and forwards coach Paul O’Connell said it was good to have them back, as apart from being great players, they are great leaders also. Tadhg Beirne, who hasn’t featured so far, is likely to be out for the rest of the campaign while Finlay Bealham, who has started the previous three games, has also been ruled out of the upcoming games again Scotland and England after suffering a knee injury in Rome.

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In recent years we have done well against the Scots in Dublin and Edinburgh. Ireland last went down 27-22 at Murrayfield in the first round of games in 2017, but this is one of strongest Scotland's strongest teams in many years and it will be a tough battle away from home.

Nowadays it’s all about the squad, not just the team. Up until 1968, subs were not allowed in rugby union, but then a new rules stated that if a doctor decided that a player could not continue then a sub was allowed. Tactical subs were allowed in 1996 and now we become familiar with the phrase “emptying the bench” where eight subs can be used in international rugby. Farrell has shown in recent games that he has plenty of options and I think that bench can keep our Grand Slam hopes alive in Edinburgh on Sunday.

Meanwhile Ireland’s opening game in the 2024 Six Nations will be away to France on Feb. 2 next year. The game will not be played at the Stade de France in Paris as the stadium will be getting a revamp ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games. The game will likely be played in Marseille.



The IRFU and Leinster Rugby have confirmed a two-year contract for Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen. He won 221 caps for Leinster as a player, as well as 32 caps for Ireland and has been Head Coach since August 2015. Leinster Rugby CEO Shane Nolan said: ‘‘This is great news for all Leinster Rugby supporters. Since 2015, Leo has done a remarkable job as Head Coach  and securing his signature was one of my top priorities. Cullen who was captain of three Heineken Cup-winning squads, retired from playing at the end of the 2013/14 season. He was initially appointed as forwards coach in the summer of 2014 under Matt O’Connor, before being appointed Head Coach a year later.



Dundalk has confirmed that a possible buy-out by English Championship club Hull City is off the table as club chairman Seán O’Connor admitted that the Lilywhites were taken by surprise over the speed of events. Hull’s Turkish owner Acun Ilicali had made approaches to a number of League of Ireland clubs in recent months about a possible investment which would have seen Hull either take a majority share in a club or else buy them outright. Dundalk were one of their targets and Acun Ilicali visited Oriel Park to inspect facilities and meet club officials. Then a Hull delegation visited Richmond Park in Inchicore last month to see Shelbourne, who they are also reported to be interested in buying, play St Patrick’s Athletic.



Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will house the world’s first in-stadium electric karting facility as part of a new 15-year strategic partnership between Spurs and Formula One. Separate tracks for adults and juniors are set to be built under the Premier League venue’s South Stand and have been accredited by the National Karting Association, making the facility a potential future venue for national karting championship races. There are also plans for a driver academy programme, which will widen the motorsport talent pool and help to identify the next generation of F1 drivers. The new track is due to open in Autumn this year.



An inaugural British and Irish Lions Women’s tour remains on track after a feasibility study delivered positive initial findings. The study investigated key aspects of creating a Women’s Lions tour, exploring rugby, brand, commercial, financial, spectator, logistical and scheduling considerations. Work will continue on areas such as the potential structure and timing of a tour before any final decision is made. Lions chief executive Ben Calveley said: “It is extremely positive that a British and Irish Lions women’s tour is possible in the future. While there is much to be considered, we are committed to taking the finds of this feasibility study and working closely with the unions as well as other stakeholders in the coming months.’’


Former Irish rugby player and women’s international coach Tom Tierney has died suddenly at age 46. The scrum-half, who was capped eight times for Ireland and started four games at the 1999 World Cup, passed away last month. At club level he played with Richmond, Garryowen, Munster, Galwegians, Connacht and Leicester. The Limerick native moved into coaching after hanging up his boots and worked with Garryowen and Cork Constitution before being appointed head coach of the Ireland women’s team in 2015.

In her eulogy to the packed congregation of family, friends, and former teammates at St Nicholas’ Church, Solohead, Co. Tipperary, his wife Mary addressed those players who Tom had devoted so much time to nurturing.

“The last five years of Tom’s life I know with every fiber of my being were his happiest. He finally found his rhythm in a job where he belonged,” she said, according to a report in the Irish Examiner.

“He wanted so badly to see you all succeed and grow as players. He had so many plans and I’m so sorry he won’t have the opportunity to see them through. I know each of you will go on to do great things and if I could ask just one thing for my Tom, remember him with a little wink and a nod when you get there.” 

Tierney stepped down from his position after the 2017 World Cup, but remained with the IRFU and worked with the Irish men’s Under-20 and U-19 teams.

He had most recently been employed as an IRFU national talent coach based out of Munster Rugby’s high performance center in UL since 2021, working with the province’s academy and national talent squad players.

Tierney is survived by two daughters in addition to Mary.


Also the death occurred of former Munster and Ireland team manager Brian O’Brien at the age of 83. He was a big part of the Munster’s success in recent decades, also serving as a player, selector, and coach. As a youngster, O’Brien played at centre in Shannon’s first-ever Munster Senior Cup Final in 1959, ultimately becoming the club’s first-ever  Irish international in 1968. He spent 15 years playing at senior level with Shannon, and went on to coach them to Munster Senior Cup titles in 1977 and 1978. O’Brien later worked on both selection committees for Ireland, and the British and Irish Lions during their 1983 tour.


Three famous GAA personalities left us recently, Kerry footballer Tom Long, Tipperary hurler Mick Burns and Wicklow referee Jimmy Hatton. Long, who was 86, was from Ventry in West Kerry and won all-Ireland medals with Kerry in 1959 and 1962. Prior to becoming an inter-county star Long qualified as a teacher in St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra. He was on the college team Erin’s Hope that denied St Vincent eight in-a-row Dublin senior football titles in 1956. He later played for Dr. Crokes when he moved to Killarney to teach. Tipperary lost a great hurling half-back Mick Burns. The Nenagh Eire Og clubman played in eight All-Ireland senior finals for Tipp between 1958 and 1968 and won four, in 1961, ’62, ’64 and ’65. Wicklow’s Jimmy Hatton was one of the country’s best known GAA referees in the sixties and seventies. Jimmy who was 88, took charge of three All-Ireland senior hurling finals and two All-Ireland senior football finals.

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