A stunning season opening competition saw Natalya Coyle win a Modern Pentathlon Silver medal at World Cup 1 in Cairo, Egypt. Coyle was 15th fastest in the pool after a 200m swim of 2min 19.58sec, but it was in the fencing arena that she catapulted herself into medal contention. A return of 23 victories and 12 defeats gave her 238 points.Typically, Coyle went on to be one of 11 riders to enjoy a clean ride on an unfamiliar horse, and the resulting 300 points moved her into 3rd place overall. A solid Laser Run time of 12:42.20 saw her hang on the shoulder of gold medallist Uliana Batashova of Russia, eventually finishing 11sec behind the champion but comfortably ahead of former world champion Sarolta Kovacs of Hungary.
Joy Neville was back in the middle for Pro 14 action in Cardiff Arms Park for the game between Cardiff Blues and the Kings. It was a free flowing game with Joy almost unnoticeable, which is what you want as a referee.
Connacht were the in-form side this weekend as they easily disposed of the Ospreys 46-5. As ever the irrepressible Matt Healy found himself on the score sheet. Tom Daly entered the fray for the final 15 minutes at out-half, showing his versatility at this level.
Ulster continued their push for the Guinness Pro14 play-off spots with a vital 28-15 bonus-point victory over the Dragons. Marty Moore put in a good 50 minute shift and was full of energy in the set-piece and the loose, which saw him power over for a try. The ever industrious and dynamic backrow of Jordi Murphy & Nick Timoney were involved in everything for Ulster. Jordi opened Ulster’s try scoring on the 24thminute.
Munster had a disappointing 10-6 defeat away to Scarlets in horrific conditions. Munster’s points all came from the boot of starting outhalf Bill Johnston. The back-line also featuring Ronan O’’Mahony & Darren Sweetnam looked like they had all the potential to fire but the conditions didn’t give them the opportunity. In the pack Fineen Wycherley continues to grow and impress as a blindside flanker and he was joined in the backrow for 55 minutes by the dynamic Conor Oliver. Darren O’Shea was brought on for the final quarter to try and add some energy to a tiring Munster pack.
Leinster confirmed their home Pro 14 semi-final spot with a 19-7 win over the Cheetahs. Rhys Ruddock returned to captain the side for 60minutes. Fergus McFadden shipped a heavy tackle in the opening exchanges but showed his resilience to shrug it off and get back in the game. Ross Molony’s leaderships skills continue to develop as he takes control of the lineout. Caelan Doris continues to look like a seasoned pro in this Leinster backrow. Bryan Byrne had a good 55 minute shift before being replaced by James Tracywho continued in the same vein. Andrew Porter came on in the second half and goes about his business with little fuss but is very effective. Noel Reid came on for the final quarter to help steer Leinster home.
In the Championship Ealing Trailfinders have had 7 wins in a row and are sitting 2ndin the table. They got an early scare from Hartpury and had to fight back from an early 14-0 deficit. To the fore of this fightback were Dave Johnston playing at outside centre and Peter Lydon at fullback. Lydon also provided a conversion and a huge 77th minute penalty to seal the win. Jersey Reds led by their ever-reliable captain Jerry Sexton were in fine form to disperse of Doncaster Knights 41-21, Sexton was also on the scoreboard. Mark Flanagan and Tadgh McElroy were both involved for Bedford Blues in a scintillating game of rugby against Yorkshire Carnegie where they lost 45-44.
It was a bittersweet night for Sarah Rowe and her Collingwood team-mates. They produced their best performance of the league so far but came away narrow losers to Carlton. Week by week Sarah’s performances are improving and she put away her first ever goal in impressive style.
Mags D’Arcy and her young club side St Martin’s made the march to Croke for the AIB All Ireland Club final against Slaughtneil, who were aiming a historic 3rdtitle. Conditions did not allow for the free-flowing game that you would expect from these two teams. Slaughtneil’s experience won out in the end .
Dublin Ladies GAA continue to welcome back some of their key players after pre-season with Sinead Goldrick being brought on at half time which helped Dublin to a 1-8 to 1-3 win over Westmeath.
Richie Sadlier continues his role as RTE analyst for the Champions League, bringing great insight and discussion points to the panel.