Qualifying for the 2020 European Championship starts on Thursday. And what makes this tournament unique is that it will be the first Euros in 44 years where the hosts must qualify. As a result, some will miss out. This is because the tournament finals will be spread across 12 cities - London, Glasgow, Dublin, Rome, Baku, St Petersburg, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Bilbao, Munich and Budapest - and among the big-name hosts, Italy and Germany need to shake off poor recent form to reach the competition proper. England are the main hosts with seven games at Wembley, including the 2020 semi-finals and final. So what are the chances of one of the favourites failing to qualify? And how are the Home Nations looking? ENGLAND Upcoming fixtures Friday, March 22: England v Czech Republic, 7.45pm Monday, March 25: Montenegro v England, 7.45pm What are England's chances? England manager Gareth Southgate is relying on young players even more than usual as … [Read more...] about Euro 2020 qualifying guide: How are Home Nations looking and which of the big teams might struggle to make it?
Luck of the irish meaning
The two six-strong groups are based on where counties finished in Divisions 1A and 1B this season. In theory, that should deliver fairly balanced groups but it hasn't done so. Bizarrely, it has also led to a situation where the winners of next Sunday's Kilkenny v Cork 1A play-off will be in the tougher group. Effectively, there's a bigger prize for losing a game which, under the system that applied in recent years, would have been a relegation play-off. The make-up of Division 1 in 2020 will be as follows: GROUP A: Limerick (1st 1A), Tipperary (4th 1A), Cork or Kilkenny (5th or 6th 1A), Waterford (2nd 1B), Galway (3rd 1B), Westmeath (Div 2A champions). GROUP B: Wexford (2nd 1A), Clare (3rd 1A), Cork or Kilkenny (5th or 6th 1A), Dublin (1st 1A), Laois (4th 1A), Carlow (1B relegation play-off winners). Current betting for this year's All-Ireland title illustrates the sharp difference between the two groups. Galway 11/4; Limerick 4/1; Tipperary 5/1; Cork 11/2; Kilkenny 6/1; Clare 15/2; … [Read more...] about Martin Breheny: ‘Luck of the draw ensures inequality will be rampant in next year’s hurling league’
His decision was neither dishonourable nor surprising. Any player would prefer to play for his own national team, especially when it's world class and the other side vying for his services is not. There's no need to complicate things with waffle about the conflicted soul of the emigrant, no need to try and find someone to blame. Good luck to Declan Rice. I hope he's spared the treatment inflicted upon Jack Grealish, whose every misstep and misfortune after opting for England was greeted by a jeering Irish chorus which can only have confirmed his conviction that he'd made the right decision, even if he never wins a cap for his own country. This time it would be good if we behaved a little more honourably. A lot of the talk about Rice over the last year was seriously OTT. If he stayed with Ireland we could build a team around him, he'd win 100 caps, he'd be captain for many years. This was all wildly previous for a 20-year-old who, however gifted, is at the start of his senior career. … [Read more...] about Eamonn Sweeney: ‘If arrogance is the English national vice, sneakiness may be the Irish one’
I don’t know if this is the worst it’s been with Ireland - but it’s getting there. In the past we have had one-off performances that were terrible but you could always recover. But this is a consistent period of bad performances and that didn’t happen with previous teams, that’s why a win in Denmark, something that is possible, especially if the Danes rest players as they’ve already won the group, will not make everything better all of a sudden. What worries me now is that I don’t see a way out of it. You can’t say we are going through a bad spell and need a bit of luck to turn things around, there’s no sign of things getting better. You don’t go into a game thinking that the team will score and win, you go into every game hoping for an improvement but you don’t get that. What upsets me most about the state of the game, and the state of the national team right now, is that people don’t even want to watch any … [Read more...] about Richard Dunne: ‘Nobody even wants to watch the Irish team anymore
Martin Vander Weyer 10 November 2018 9:00 AM 10 November 2018 9:00 AM Share Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Email Whatsapp We may or may not hear news soon of a settlement of the Irish border issue that will allow Brexit to proceed without the calamity of ‘no deal’. Word this week was that Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar might offer a compromise ‘review mechanism’ for the ‘backstop’ which might otherwise leave the UK locked in a customs union — but like me, you’re probably none the wiser as to what that actually means. History will judge this episode as a disgraceful example of politicians bluffing in the face of tough choices rather than explaining complexities or acknowledging hard facts — set out, in this case, in a Northern Ireland Affairs select committee report in March 2018 that said, among many other interesting things, ‘we have had no visibility of any technical solutions, anywhere in the world, … [Read more...] about History will judge UK ministers harshly for the Irish backstop