Fit-again Sean O’Brien is fit to face the Italians if required, though Ireland may choose not to risk the combative flanker who is finally past 14 months of shoulder problems. Cian Healy remains in line to return from a long-term hamstring injury to face France in round two, with Johnny Sexton expecting the all-clear on Thursday for the Dublin clash with Les Bleus on Valentine’s Day. “Conor Murray trained well on Friday and he progressed to full contact training,” said Kearney. “He has seen a specialist, we had an open training session in the Aviva (Stadium) on Friday and Conor took a full part in that. “There was some minor contact in that session but he came through it really well, and we would expect that Conor would be available for selection.” Munster scrum-half Murray’s fitness will be a clear boost when Ireland launch the defence of their Six Nations crown against the Azzurri this weekend. Only last week boss Joe Schmidt was sweating on injuries to both front-line scrum-halves – Murray and Leinster’s Eoin Reddan – but now both could face Italy. Racing Metro fly-half Sexton will miss Saturday’s tournament opener as he completes his enforced 12-week lay-off after a string of concussions. Conor Murray has been passed fit for Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy in Rome. Ireland bosses expect the Lions playmaker to receive the all-clear in time to train fully next week, in a bid to return against France on February 14. “Jamie Heaslip continues to rehab his shoulder and we are hopeful that he’ll train fully tomorrow,” said Kearney. “I would say there’s probably some small doubt about him, but he’s recovered really well. “Jamie being the professional athlete that he is, he really does look after his body extremely well and would have worked on it over the weekend. “So I suppose the next day or two will tell a lot, but there would be a small degree of doubt about him, maybe, yes. “We are hopeful Cian Healy will return to full training at some stage this week. “Depending on how he goes this week, if he comes through some tests he will be allowed to train fully for the rest of the week. “I suppose if that happens with Cian, given the athlete that he is, I would expect that he would be in consideration for the French game, yes. “Eoin Reddan is making good progress from a knee ligament injury and we’re hopeful that he’ll train tomorrow also. Jonathan Sexton is seeing his neurologist in Paris on Thursday. “I must say he’s been in camp all last week, he’s trained really well, very focused, taking a full part except for the full contact. “So he’ll see his neurologist on Thursday, hopefully he’ll get a clean bill of health and it will be all systems go for the following week.” Wing Dave Kearney is expected to be fit for selection against Italy despite suffering a nasty shoulder injury in Leinster’s 20-20 Champions Cup draw with Wasps on January 24. Lock Mike McCarthy has not been ruled out of the Italy clash despite suffering a heavy concussion in Friday night’s Ireland Wolfhounds match, while Luke Fitzgerald has recovered from illness. Ireland team boss Kearney also confirmed flanker O’Brien came through the Wolfhounds clash unscathed. “Sean came through really well, he’s a little stiff and sore as you’d expect after his first game back in, what, six months and going straight into a pretty competitive international-type match,” said Kearney. “But he came through it really well, he’s in good form and he’s really happy to be back obviously in the mix.” The British and Irish Lions scrum-half has battled neck trouble for the last month but is back in full training and ready to start Saturday’s Stadio Olimpico clash. Ireland team manager Mick Kearney admitted “some small doubt” over number eight Jamie Heaslip, who is carrying a shoulder injury. Press Association
McGrathI have to say, Cupid is a pretty awful judge of compatibility. I mean, this is the cherub who brought you Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra, Andre “Bad Moon” Rison and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, the Benson’s, Mark Wohlers and ball four … the list goes on. Even when the fat, naked archer got it right, it was obviously a mistake … I mean, he was probably hungry.Without question, the best sports couple is Takeru Kobayashi and the hot dog. Do you know what kind of rock-solid foundation of love it would take for you to sit there and swallow 79,000 wieners and still come back with enough lust to want to gobble down 50 at each sitting? That’s dedication. And it’s reciprocal, too. The frankfurters, despite being notoriously cardiac unfriendly, haven’t had a bit of ill effect on Kobayashi to this point, as he is skinner than Manute Bol after a six-month fast. Take one look at the 420-pound Eric “Bad Lands” — that must mean the unfortunate earth that is underneath him at any given point in time — Booker and his physique fit for an oversized bean bag chair, and it is clear that the tube steak is showing the K-man some love.”Take”-out also has become a millionaire for his unique talent for guzzling down wieners like Lil’ Kim does … well, wieners. Meanwhile, Nathan’s hot dogs are still more popular than those stupid floppy-discs of beef served at most fast-food eateries, and dominate the attention of the American public on the most patriotic of days, the Fourth of July. Again, Cupid must’ve been aiming for Mary Kate Olson when he hit the gluttonous Kobayashi, but regardless he created a match made in Roman myth. Point: Hot dogs and Kobayashi. 2.14 PCP — PoppyPoppyThe best couple in the sports world should be one in which each side brings the best out in each other, and what better place to do that than the playing field?With that said, any athlete involving singer Toni Braxton is disqualified. Remember when she tore the Dallas Mavericks franchise apart in the mid-1990s by messing around with Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn?Anyway, the best couple in sports is none other than Ivan Rodriguez and Ugueth Urbina. Not to imply or disrespect anything homosexual, but seriously, the catcher-pitcher duo in baseball is one that requires a strong relationship, and Pudge and Ugi had just that.In 2003, Rodriguez and Urbina hooked up on the unlikeliest of teams, the Florida Marlins, and made history. Pudge had signed a one-year contract with the Marlins in hopes of reviving his career, and Ugi came on board mid-season as Florida found itself in the wildcard race. The battery connection posted solid seasons but made their magic in the postseason.As Rodriguez and Urbina opened the playoffs, they found their cupid in Steve Bartman, who in the single swift of one hand helped the couple on their way to the World Series, and it was there they showed everyone their true affection for one another.As Urbina recorded two saves against the Yankees, he and Rodriguez celebrated the Marlins’ victories with a smooch on the mound. It caused a stir in the sports world, but really it’s just an extension of the butt-smack.Rodriguez and Urbina even had a honeymoon of sorts, jumping ship to the lowly Tigers the next year. Furthermore, the couple had their divorce this past season as Detroit traded Urbina to Philadelphia.Nevertheless, Rodriguez and Urbina are the Best. Sports. Couple. Ever.
One of Ireland’s most-strangely named villages is beating the recession by cashing in on its name.For years people have smirked at the signs welcoming them to the Inishowen village of Muff.But now locals have brushed aside suggestions to rename the village because they like it just the way it is Tara Reddin, chairperson of the Muff Festival, says visitor numbers have never been greater.“There was talk that people wanted to change the name but why would we do that?“I am born and bred in Muff and I never knew the double-meaning of the name until I went away.“Now we all just laugh at it and make the most of it,” she said. Tara revealed that the festival committee has even bought in a range of “I Love Muff” merchandise which is selling like hotcakes around the globe.The merchandise includes t-shirts, keyrings and baseballs with regular orders coming from as far away as America and Australia.Tara says stag parties coming to Donegal often come to the village to have their picture taken by the ‘Welcome to Muff’ signpost.“Muff is a small village and it only has one pub so it’s not a place where stag parties stay.“But they often come here to have their picture taken and might have a quick point or go into the local shops,” she said. She points out that most elderly people in the village aren’t even aware of the double-meaning of the village’s name which is officially referred to in some on-line dictionaries as “a vulgar word for a woman’s private area.”One of its most famous visitors was British comedian Alan Carr who had to have his picture taken beside the village’s sign when he played in nearby Derry.And Tara said that nobody in the village takes offence when people have a snigger at it.“I think we can all take a joke at this stage. If it brings people into the village and they want to spend a pound, then what’s wrong with that. “It’s not every village I Ireland can cash in on its name,” she said.* The Muff Festival takes place on the August Bank Holiday weekend.IT’S ALL IN THE NAME – MUFF IS THRIVING! was last modified: May 30th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:muffMuff Festivalthriving