Winners and losers in the Irish local and European elections

So what are the long term trends in Irish local election results? Much has been written about the Irish local and European election results, but mostly from a very partisan perspective. There is nothing much wrong with that except that it is very prone to wishful thinking: people see what they want to see and emphasize those aspects which favour their preferred party or political perspective. Thus, David Moane delighted in Sinn Féin’s disappointing results and suggested it heralded the …

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The Ireland squad for the tour to South Africa has been named

black elephant walking on brown sand

Six Ulster players included Forwards: Ryan Baird, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Cormac Izuchukwu, Oli Jager, Ronan Kelleher, Joe McCarthy, Peter O’Mahony, Tom O’Toole, Andrew Porter, Cian Prendergast, James Ryan, Dan Sheehan, Nick Timoney, Josh van der Flier Backs: Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Ciaran Frawley, Robbie Henshaw, Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Stuart McCloskey, Conor Murray, Calvin Nash, Jimmy O’Brien, Jamie Osborne, Sam Prendergast, Garry Ringrose, Jacob Stockdale   The …

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URC Semi-finals: A disastrous day for Irish rugby.

Live Blog: Bulls 25 Leinster 20 Leinster live on on the edge in the early stages of this match with the Bulls moving the ball wide quickly with some accurate cross-kicking and with a Bulls try disallowed for Ross Byrne being taken out off the ball. Leinster are then lucky to get a penalty at the breakdown but Ross Byrne misses from distance. Petersen is yellow carded for a deliberate knock on and Lowe scores down the blind side. Byrne …

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URC Quarterfinals: Munster and Leinster progress.

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Ireland have three representatives in the Quarter finals (seeded 1,3, and 6), South Africa two (2 and 5), and Scotland (4), Italy (7) and Wales (8) one apiece. That counts as a good season for Irish rugby even if it is a step down from last year, when all four provinces qualified for the last 8. I’m sure the URC organisers are pleased that at least this season Italy and Wales have one representative in the last 8, having had …

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Leinster 33 Connacht 7; Munster 29 Ulster 24

Leinster 33 Connacht 7 Not surprisingly, after a 100 minute marathon against Toulouse 6 days ago, Leo Cullen made 14 changes to his starting XV, retaining only Osborne at 13 instead of 12. Osborne may relish the opportunity to have a quick recovery from a less than stellar display against Toulouse. Elsewhere, Cullen gives departing players Ruddock, Ed Byrne, Molony, Ala’alatoa and Ngatai a chance to shine one last time before the fans at the RDS. That’s a lot of …

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The United Rugby Championship End Game: The provinces Collide

Leinster need Munster and the Bulls to slip up against Ulster and Challenge Cup winners Sharks to have any chance of topping the table and retaining home advantage to the final. This seems unlikely, as the Sharks have nothing to play for and Munster are in top form. Given their exertions against Toulouse, a win against Connacht can’t even be taken for granted. Leinster will be overtaken by Glasgow if they fail to win with a bonus point as Glasgow …

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European Rugby Cup Final: Leinster Versus Toulouse

European Cup Final: Leinster Versus Toulouse There seems to be an assumption doing the rounds in some quarters that Leinster are more or less entitled to win the European cup, and that any failure to do so will represent a monumental failure of character, coaching, and squad management. There have already been calls for Leo Cullen’s head should Leinster fail to lift the trophy and thus replicate the failure of recent seasons. Not only is this disrespectful of the achievement …

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The end is nigh! Crunch time in the United Rugby Championship

The penultimate round of the URC has some intriguing match-ups and little room for error. The match previews below will be updated with Live Blogs on each of the matches by Sunday morning. Refresh page for updates. Preview: Edinburgh versus Munster: Friday 7.35PM; TG4, Premier Sports Both Edinburgh (7th.) and Munster (3rd.) are in the hunt for the Champions Cup rugby next season and trying to get as high as possible in the play-off seedings with home advantage the big …

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Do the IRFU unfairly promote Leinster dominance in Irish rugby?

One of the hardy annuals which comes up all the time when other club fans discuss Leinster is the unfairly favourable treatment Leinster allegedly get from the IRFU. The main complaint is that while Leinster will have 10 centrally contracted players from next season, Ulster, Munster, and Connacht will only have one apiece. But let’s get real here: You have to be world class to get a central contract if you are at Leinster, while Henderson, Murray, and Earls (prior …

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Ulster, Leinster, Munster, Connacht locked and loaded, plus transfer news.

Match previews and latest transfer news in this post will be updated with match reports later today. All four provinces have picked near full strength sides, allowing for injuries, in preparation for their third last regular season matches in the United Rugby Championship. The table is spectacularly tight right now, and every last point could be crucial in determining who ends up in the 8 play-off places. If the Sharks beat Gloucester in the Challenge Cup final, only the top …

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European Cup Semi-Final Leinster 20 Northampton 17 F/T

Match Preview, with Match Live Blog updates. Once again, Leinster are putting all their eggs in one basket, putting home advantage in the URC knock-out stages at risk for the sake of giving their front-liners a good rest and a good preparation time for their European Cup semi-final against English Premiership leaders Northampton. The squad they sent to South Africa for matches against the Lions and Stormers was made up of squad back-up and academy players and they struggled against …

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Rugby: Irish Provinces close in on URC Quarter Final places.

Once again it’s three bonus point wins out of four for the Irish provinces, with a very much weakened Leinster side once again the odd man out losing to the Stormers in Cape town. Ulster, Munster, and Connacht all played well to gain their hard fought victories in high scoring and entertaining matches. The Leinster set piece was destroyed by the Stormers who did not have to play well to beat a callow Leinster side. Leinster fall back to second …

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Till debt do us part: How goes the Irish Economy in 2024?

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It is generally recognised that the IDA has been one of the most successful state agencies charged with attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world. Less attention has been paid to the outstanding role played by the NTMA in managing Ireland’s national debt. The agency avoided any threat of a sovereign debt default in the 2009-2012 financial crisis and banking crash, thus giving Ireland a very high debt rating and low risk profile as far as creditors were concerned, …

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URC Round 14 Review: Wins for Ulster, Munster, and Connacht; Leinster domination under question.

Ulster 19 Cardiff 17: Ulster win by a fingertip Ulster won this match when a 78th. Minute hat-trick try for Cardiff winger Theo Cabango was ruled out for a fingertip knock on by Cardiff prop Rhys Carré who was yellow carded for his troubles. Cooney nailed the penalty to give Ulster the lead for only the second time in the match. The match itself was an error strewn affair between two distinctly average sides enlivened only by two excellent tries …

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Getting Real about Northern Ireland

On several occasions now I have written an OP in response to one by Andy Pollak. I hope he takes it as a sort of back-handed compliment: no one better espouses what I call the conventional approach to reconciliation than he. According to this view, reconciliation must happen before, during, and after any border poll and is to be arrived at by nationalists and unionists talking to each other, and arriving at some sort of compromise down the middle, with …

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European Club Rugby Quarter Finals

Live Blog: Challenge Cup: Clermont  53 Ulster 14 F/T.   Ulster’s form has been patchy this season, resulting in their Head Coach and Chief Executive being shown the door. Key players are set to leave at the end of the season, so it’s now or never if Ulster are to have any chance of winning a trophy any time soon. A difficult mini-tour to South Africa was a baptism of fire for new interim head coach, Richie Murphy, but there …

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Chris Heaton-Harris: Border Poll to be called within a year

Following on from recent polls which showed a majority would vote for a United Ireland if the Irish Government set out clearly how Northern Ireland would be better governed under Irish Sovereignty, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has announced that “the minimum threshold for a border poll has been met” and that “accordingly, I am announcing that a border poll will be held not later than March 31st. 2025”. Unionist politicians have criticised the decision, saying that government policy should …

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Reconciliation or Conversion?

Andy Pollak has written another impassioned plea for reconciliation in Northern Ireland as a precursor to any border poll. In an ideal world that is obviously very desirable. But there is also a danger that we confuse political reconciliation with social, community, and or religious reconciliation. For many nationalists, division was caused by partition, and reconciliation can only begin when partition has ended and that scar has healed. For many unionists, division was caused by Irish independence, and reconciliation can …

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England, Wales and Scotland all now in favour of Irish unification

The Good Friday Agreement gives the majority in Northern Ireland the right  to decide whether Northern Ireland should remain in the Union with Britain or become part of a united Ireland. It gives no say on the matter to the people of Britain whatsoever, beyond mandating the Secretary of State to call a border poll in Northern Ireland, should he form the view that such a poll is likely to be carried. However, in any true democracy, all major decisions …

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Ireland defend their Six Nations Rugby Crown successfully.

Six Nations Super Saturday Italy 24 Wales 21 Italy recorded a well deserved victory over a callow Wales side in Cardiff and condemned Wales to the wooden spoon. In truth the score line flattered Wales who scored two late converted tries to add some respectability to the result. With George North now also retiring Wales are bereft of experience and international class and it will be some time before they can rebuild a side capable of challenging for titles in …

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