Munster Loses Leinster Wins


Munster had the consolation of a bonus point as they lost 25-19 to Clermont Auvergne in France in the Heineken Cup on Sunday.

A late Ronan O'Gara's penalty ensured Munster left France just a point behind group leaders Sale Sharks at the halfway point of the pool stage.

Captain Paul O'Connell said afterwards, "Clermont is a difficult place to come and sometimes the bonus point is the most important thing in a group as tight as this, especially after Sale got a bonus-point win this weekend to get them right back in it.

"But we're still disappointed to lose because things were going well for us in the first half. We had a poor first 20 minutes before Marcus Horan scored his try but we showed great resilience to get in position to earn the bonus point and at the end we were pushing hard for the win."

Meanwhile, Leinster expect to have captain Brian O'Driscoll fit for Friday night's Heineken Cup return against Castres in France.

The Ireland skipper suffered a slight hamstring strain in Saturday's 33-6 win over the struggling French side at the RDS as the Blues stayed top of Pool Two.

"He felt a slight twinge in his hamstring and I wasn't about to take any chances," said boss Michael Cheika. "He was happy to stay on but I wanted him off!

"But the game was won at that stage and I'm happy that Brian will be good to play on Friday."

Felipe Contepomi, Isa Nacewa and Shane Jennings could all make their respective returns from injury at the Stade Pierre Antoine.

Harte's Series

Tyrone football boss Mickey Harte, currently in San Francisco with the all-stars, has again called on the GAA to establish a world series to promote Gaelic games around the globe.

A critic of the Compromise Rules series, Harte told the Irish Mirror: "If we continued to promote the whole idea of internationalizing Gaelic games it would be brilliant. I hope to one day see that.

"The all-stars is a catalyst to awaken the imagination of what is possible for Gaelic games. I think when you realize how many clubs exist around the world, a series amount of clubs promoting Gaelic games, I think we have to create the Feile type of idea of a world series at a club level.

"That is where we begin to give it that international dimension and bring people together from all parts of the world to actually compete for a world title in Gaelic games.

"If it was at club level, even at junior club level to begin with, then I think that would be great.

"That would start the process of opening our minds to this possibility that some day down the line we can raise it to a higher level, to a still further higher level, and eventually make it international in the fullest sense of the world, playing Gaelic games in their purity."

Cork Rumpus

Beleaguered Cork boss Gerard McCarthy held trials for his senior county team on Sunday as the 2008 squad who are refusing to play for him again trained on their own.

A total of 29 players attended McCarthy's trials as he prepares for the start of the Waterford Crystal tournament in January. "I was delighted the way things went," McCarthy told the Evening Echo.

"The effort and application of the players was admirable and we had a good game which ended with one side scoring 23 points and the other 22.

"We will have another trial on the first Sunday in January and then it's into the Waterford Crystal competition."

GAA Shorts

The Ulster club SFC replay between Crossmaglen Rangers and Ballinderry, postponed last weekend because of ice, will now be played in Enniskillen next Sunday . . .

New Galway hurling boss John McIntyre has dropped Alan Kerins and Eugene Cloonan from his provisional squad for 2009 . . .

Tyrone captain Brian Dooher will be unavailable until late February at the earliest after undergoing a groin operation . . .

Darragh O Se has confirmed that he has yet to make a decision on his future with the Kerry football team . . .

Veteran midfielder Colin Lynch is to carry on with the Clare hurling squad for at least another year . . .

Michael Fennelly has been nominated to take over from James Fitzpatrick as Kilkenny captain.

Armstrong for Ireland?

The American cycling legend Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he could compete in the Tour of Ireland next year when he makes his comeback to the sport.

"We are seriously looking at the Tour of Ireland," the seven time Tour de France winner Armstrong said.

"Ironically enough I did that race in 1992, which makes me feel very old. The timing works out really well.

"Ireland has been very progressive with regard to this issue of public health. I'd love to be back there, 17 years later."

Soccer Shorts

St. Patrick's Athletic manager John McDonnell could appoint Curtis Fleming as his new assistant while Stephen Paisley has been offered a new deal by the club . . .

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he will not allow Irish midfielder Darron Gibson out on loan in the January transfer window . . .

Birmingham City have offered Sligo's young defender Seamus Coleman a trial at St Andrews after signing midfielder Keith Fahey from St. Patrick's Athletic . . .