Barbarians too strong for Ireland

first_img The Leinster loosehead was sin-binned by referee Greg Garner after a video review in the first half of Ireland’s non-cap international clash at Thomond Park. Ireland slumped to defeat in Limerick with Alex Cuthbert claiming two tries and Leinster full-back Zane Kirchner landing the Barbarians’ killer blow over many of his club-mates. Craig Gilroy and the returning Chris Henry claimed scores for a scrappy Ireland outfit. Paddy Jackson’s late converted try handed Ireland a sniff of victory, but the BaaBaas held out. Fly-half Ian Madigan escaped censure for stamping on Georgia lock Mikautadze when a maul collapsed in the 32nd minute, but McGrath was handed a yellow card for his actions at the same breakdown. The 25-year-old front-rower could face further retrospective punishment, however, and any eventual sanction could threaten his World Cup participation. France lock Pascal Pape was handed a 10-week ban for kneeing Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip in the back during this year’s RBS 6 Nations. Any suspension for McGrath would not start until Ireland’s World Cup warm-up games in August. There is no suggestion McGrath’s actions equate to those of Pape, but a ban of four or more weeks would leave his World Cup participation in doubt. Ireland boss Joe Schmidt showed his immediate feelings on the matter by choosing not to send McGrath back into the fray at the end of his 10-minute sin-bin. While the BaaBaas entertained, Ireland were meant to be experimenting, blooding the young and untested and ushering experienced men requiring matches back towards full steam. Jack McGrath could be facing a ban to jeopardise his World Cup participation after kneeing lock Konstantin Mikautadze in the back during Ireland’s 22-21 defeat to the Barbarians. Uncapped centre Colm O’Shea, with just four Leinster appearances to his name, struggled but never folded, while flanker Henry impressed in his first international outing since November. The Ulster openside scragged and scrapped at every breakdown, exhibiting all the tenacity that drove him into Ireland’s starting side before his mini-stroke in the autumn. The 30-year-old even claimed a second-half try, and must surely have done enough in Limerick to convince head coach Schmidt he is ready for the World Cup. The Barbarians launched into free-spirited custom from the off, Wales wing Cuthbert coasting home after Ireland debutant O’Shea drifted too far infield. Ireland levelled the scores through Craig Gilroy’s smart finish, the Ulster wing cutting a tight line off a five-metre scrum. Madigan’s conversion handed Schmidt’s men a two-point lead, but probe as they might, Ireland could not increase that advantage before the break. McGrath’s yellow card stymied solid build-up at the death of the half, allowing the BaaBaas some respite, though the world-famous invitational outfit did suffer a sin-binning of their own. Prop Roberto Tejerizo was given his short-term marching orders at the end of the half, for persistent scrum infringement. The Barbarians reclaimed the lead after the turnaround, former All Blacks wizard Joe Rokocoko always to the fore with a flick here and a trick there. Leinster’s Zane Kirchner outsmarted O’Shea before chipping the cover to slide home in style. Jimmy Gopperth converted before slotting a penalty – with the crowd booing the pragmatism – to set the BaaBaas 15-7 to the good. Ireland rallied through Henry’s driving-maul score, but even with Madigan’s conversion still trailed by a point. The Barbarians fired another riposte, Cuthbert burrowing home with a good flanker impression for his second score of the night. Ireland pulled a last-gasp try out of the hat thanks to replacement fly-half Paddy Jackson, and Madigan slotted the drop-goal conversion to allow the game to restart. Ireland again trailed by one point, with the game sliding into its final minute as the Barbarians restarted the action. The BaaBaas were able to run out the clock, however, and claim a victory as much morale-boosting for their part as galling for Ireland. Press Associationlast_img read more

Hughes wants regular football

first_img With Michael O’Neill’s side currently second in their Euro 2016 qualifying group and on course for their first major tournament in 30 years, Hughes knows he cannot afford another bit-part role next term. He will hope to feature again in a non-cap international against the Republic of Ireland next week, before the crucial Group F clash against Romania on June 13. But after that, Hughes will begin searching for the right deal. “Right now I’m just focused on the upcoming games and then in the summer it’s about finding a club which will enable me to come back for the internationals,” he said. “The focus leading into this week was just to come back fit and get through this game, and the one behind closed doors before the big one against Romania. “Once that is out the way I’ll really be concentrating on it but I don’t want to let it concern me or distract me now. “The move has to be right for me. I’m getting to the back-end of my career now so I’d like to go somewhere I will probably play a few more games than I have this year. “At this stage of my career I don’t want to be sitting watching games tick past. I want to play football, it’s what I train every day to do. Aaron Hughes became Northern Ireland’s most capped outfield player against Qatar but needs regular football next season to keep his European Championship dream alive. “It has to be somewhere I’ve got a chance of playing. You can never walk in somewhere and expect to play every game, your performances and fitness have to be good, but I’m looking for somewhere with a realistic chance. “It’s about staying in contention for Northern Ireland but also for my own enjoyment too.” With competition stiff at the heart of defence – Hughes was left out against Finland as O’Neill preferred Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans – Hughes might also need the Euros to achieve his long-awaited century of caps. “The record hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’ve been lucky enough to hang around this long and get there. “It’s something I’m proud of and when it starts to sink in I’ll realise what an achievement it is. It’s the same with the hundredth, it hasn’t happened and there’s a lot of other things I need to focus on first. “But if we got to the Euros that would take care of the 100, it would come at some point during that, so the Euros is the big thing at the moment, and if I got there then fantastic.” Press Association The 35-year-old captained the side in a 1-1 draw in Crewe, his 96th international appearance taking him past David Healy and leaving him behind only goalkeeper Pat Jennings in the country’s history books. But the centre-half managed just 13 games for Brighton last season, the last of which came in January, and has now been released. last_img read more

Syracuse tries to replicate game plan for lethal Washington scorer Kelsey Plum

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 2, 2016 at 9:15 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds INDIANAPOLIS — Before Syracuse’s first-round game against Army, the Orange used its prior experience against Washington to prep for the Black Knights point guard. The Black Knights’ Kelsey Minato, the seventh-leading scorer in the country, was a dynamic scorer just like UW’s Kelsey Plum, the third-leading scorer in the nation.Two weeks after beating Army by 17, Syracuse will face Plum and Washington again. Except this time, it’s in the Final Four with a trip to each teams’ first-ever title game on the line.And defending an evolved Plum, who is averaging 25 points in seven postseason games, is right at the top of the Orange’s game plan.“You can say, ‘Hey it’s nothing new,’ but players get better throughout the season,” SU guard Brittney Sykes said. “She has been coming in really really clutch for her team, as she should being the player that she is.”No. 4 seed SU (29-7, 13-3 Atlantic Coast) faces No. 7 seed Washington (26-10, 11-7 Pac-12) on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Plum scored 19 in the first meeting between these teams, but the rematch comes as both teams are playing their best basketball of the season. The Orange’s full-court press and half-court zone defensive combination has flustered opponents throughout the first four games of the tournament while Plum has capitalized on teammates spacing the floor better.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhile Cornelia Fondren said the game plan to defend her is still the same as it was for the first game, which the Orange won by four, SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said he would consider going to a box-and-one or even a triangle-and-two to defend Plum if her shooting stroke heats up.“Defending Kelsey Plum, that’s it,” Hillsman said of the biggest challenge defending Plum. “She’s an amazing scorer. You have to find her early in transition and you have to really stay in front of her. She’s a really crafty guard.”Similar to Minato, who SU held scoreless in the first half, Plum can be deceptive. The point guard can score from anywhere on the court, Fondren said, and being a lefty, too, adds in another wrinkle to remember on defense.Despite her impressive scoring ability, the 5-foot-8 Plum doesn’t stand out much.“That kid looks like 90 percent of the other kids walking down the mall,” UW head coach Mike Neighbors said. “If you saw her shopping, you wouldn’t know she was Kelsey Plum. … She just looks like every kid else that’s out there.”Plum said playing teams later on in the season that use their athleticism to pressure ball-handlers like Arizona State and UCLA has given the Huskies some prep for Syracuse. But this week, UW hasn’t been able to use the men’s practice players it uses when practicing at home.Since the Orange’s defense is different than most teams and it can’t be simulated in practice, it’ll come down to in-game adjustments, an area Neighbors said he lost to Hillsman the last time they played.And Hillsman knows how much that coaching matchup could come down to Plum.“She’s just a really good player and you have to make sure you have someone guarding her at all times,” Hillsman said. “When she’s in the shooting area, she’s a threat.” Commentslast_img read more