WATCH – Darren Clarke on his Ryder Cup coronation

Clarke proud to be Europe's captain

Clarke proud to be Europe’s captain

New European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will put his much publicised dispute with outgoing skipper Paul McGinley to one side after he confirmed he consult his Irish colleague for advice ahead of the 2016 event at Hazeltine.

Even though Clarke has endured a turbulent relationship with McGinley in recent years, the latter showed he could ignore their spat as he was involved in the process that led to the selection of the next European captain.

Clarke, 46, who played in the Ryder Cup five times and was a vice-captain in 2010 and 2012, was unanimously chosen ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn by a five-man selection panel at Wentworth.

McGinley admitted last year his conversations with Clarke were now ''short and sweet" but Clarke will consult McGinley after the Dubliner's leadership at Gleneagles received widespread acclaim.

"It would be very foolish for me not to follow the same formula," Clarke said.

"With everything that came out of Gleneagles and the unbelievable job that Paul did there, I would be foolish not to speak to Paul and all the other captains before that.

"The team bonding and spirit they had at Gleneagles is obviously something I would love to replicate.

"I will try to pick off as much information as I can from all the previous captains. I think it would be very remiss of me if I didn't do that to try and pick out the bits that they thought worked best for the teams.

"At the end of the day it's not about me, it's about the players and to try and make sure the team has an enjoyable week, which is quite difficult in a stressful atmosphere that the Ryder Cup is. But if the guys are relaxed and enjoy themselves that always helps a little bit more.

"Certainly with the teams that I have been involved in, both as a player and vice-captain, that has been a huge factor.

"To be captain of the European Team is a huge honour that ranks up there with anything I've achieved in the professional game. It's right up at the very top."

McGinley reiterated that he would not act as vice-captain to Clarke, or anyone else, but added: "I will give him any support he needs. At the same time it's important I step away too.

"Darren's now at the front and let him go ahead. It's not necessarily about following me or following Jose or following Monty or anybody who has done it before and won. It's about doing what's best for him and how he sees it."

Clarke said he has a "few people in mind" for his vice-captains and indicated he was likely to copy McGinley and have five of them at Hazeltine, where he is set to come up against good friend Davis Love.

Love is set to be confirmed as United States captain next week and Clarke added: "If so that would be wonderful. We've played many practice rounds together and are very good friends. He is a gentleman and there isn't a nicer man in our sport."

Love was captain in 2012 when Europe produced the 'Miracle at Medinah' to recover from 10-4 down on Saturday afternoon and win by a single point.

Last year's win at Gleneagles made it three in succession and six of the last seven, something that Montgomerie believes will make Clarke's job all the harder.

Montgomerie told Sky Sports News: "It's an unenviable task; America want it back badly and he will have all our support. They do want revenge, they set up their task force and had their own internal wranglings about what they can do to win it back.

"We have selected a captain that I am convinced will retain the Ryder Cup and bring it home. I think he will be a very good communicator with the players individually, which is most important as a captain. He has the respect of the players."

The last of Clarke's five appearances as a player was an emotionally-charged affair at the K Club in 2006, when he somehow won all three of his matches just weeks after the death of his first wife Heather from cancer.

Peter O’Mahony signs new Munster deal

Peter O'Mahony commits to Munster

Peter O’Mahony commits to Munster

Flanker Peter O’Mahony is the latest Ireland star to reject a move to France after signing a new three-year contract with Munster.

The 25-year-old club captain has committed to Thomond Park until June 2018, in a clear boost to the Irish province and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt.

Toulouse and a host of French Top 14 clubs were understood to have monitored O'Mahony's situation, but the talismanic back-rower has opted instead to stick to his roots.

O'Mahony's new deal to stay with his home province is also a decisive strike from Munster, who had been left reeling after losing promising fly-half JJ Hanrahan to Northampton Saints for next season.

Leinster stars Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien rejected the lures of Toulon last season, with Munster scrum-half Conor Murray also turning his back on French interest.

British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster from Racing Metro this summer – and now O'Mahony's new deal effectively secures all Ireland's frontline talent on home soil ahead of the World Cup.

Jamie Heaslip accepts Pascal Pape’s apology

Jamie Heaslip injury is a blow for Ireland

Jamie Heaslip injury is a blow for Ireland

Jamie Heaslip has accepted Pascal Pape’s Twitter apology for the crude knee to the back that could end the Ireland number eight’s RBS 6 Nations campaign.

France lock Pape faces a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday where he could be banned for the remainder of the tournament after kneeing Heaslip in the back during Ireland's 18-11 victory in Dublin.

The 34-year-old Les Bleus star will discover his fate at a disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday, and put in an advance move to curry favour with the panel by apologising to Leinster's Heaslip on social media.

Heaslip suffered three fractured vertebrae in his back from the challenge that earned Pape a yellow card at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Pape tweeted: "Sincerely sorry to have injured @jamieheaslip in this action of the match, not at all my intention to do him any harm #objectivityforsome", on Tuesday night, just hours before his disciplinary hearing.

Heaslip responded with this message:

@pascalpape thanks for your message. It's a physical game that we play and these things happen. I fully accept your apology.

— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) February 17, 2015

Irrespective of whether the Stade Francais second-row's move was designed to edge the independent panel towards leniency in his hearing, Leinster's loose forward Heaslip accepted the apology wholeheartedly.

Heaslip replied by tweeting a message in France, which translates as: "@pascalpape thanks for your message. Rugby is a physical game and one accepts that can happen. I accept your apology completely".

Heaslip will be sidelined for the next month, already leaving him a doubt for Ireland's final Six Nations clash, in Scotland on March 21.

The influential 31-year-old will be a loss to Ireland's bid to retain their title, especially in the pivotal England clash in Dublin on March 1.

France boss Philippe Saint-Andre has already claimed Pape's challenge was an accident. Referee Wayne Barnes ruled the contact deliberate, but only awarded a yellow card.

The Six Nations' independent citing team deemed Pape still has a case to answer though, and if found guilty he could miss the rest of the competition.

Irishman Clarke favourite for Ryder Cup role

Clarke has a winning history in the Ryder Cup

Clarke has a winning history in the Ryder Cup

Darren Clarke is being tipped to be named as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain on Wednesday, as he vies to succeed fellow Irishman Paul McGinley in the prestigious role.

Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn are the contenders to succeed Paul McGinley at Hazeltine in September next year, when Europe will be looking to maintain their recent dominance with a seventh win in the last eight contests.

McGinley is part of the five-man selection panel who will each have a vote when they meet at European Tour headquarters in Wentworth, with predecessors Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie joined by European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and players representative David Howell.

Sources close to Clarke are understood to be quietly optimistic that the Northern Irishman has enough support to get the nod, although the 46-year-old is understandably said to be not taking anything for granted.

Clarke was forced to deny a newspaper report in October 2012 that he had been offered the captaincy for 2014, a role which eventually went to McGinley as the relationship between the former friends became significantly strained.

Clarke had sent McGinley a letter in 2011 supporting the latter's bid to become captain in 2014, but later changed his mind and also put himself forward for the role.

And when Tom Watson was named US captain in December 2012, Clarke suggested 2010 captain Montgomerie should also be considered as ''whoever it is standing on that stage opposite Tom Watson needs a huge presence''.

With the public backing of players such as Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, McGinley subsequently won the day, but admitted last year that his conversations with Clarke were now ''short and sweet'' and amounted to little more than passing pleasantries.

Graeme McDowell has urged Clarke and McGinley to put their differences aside for the sake of the European cause and immediately after his highly-praised role in the five-point win at Gleneagles, McGinley insisted his relationship with Clarke would not cause any issues in the selection process.

"Absolutely no problem whatsoever," McGinley said. "I'm going to be very professional in my input.

"I'm going to get opinions from a lot of players and a lot of people before I put my opinion forward as to what it will be. Just like I was very much pushed over the line by the players, I want to get the opinion of the players.

''I think we're very fortunate in Europe, a little bit like the Liverpool soccer team and the boot room, I think a lot of us have benefited hugely from being vice-captains. Darren has been a vice-captain along with many other guys. We will see where that all evolves and I'll make a professional decision based on the views of people that I respect.''

Whoever is chosen on Wednesday can expect their opposite number to be 2012 captain Davis Love, who will be given a chance at redemption after being on the wrong end of the 'Miracle at Medinah' according to reports in the United States.

Love, whose side led 10-6 going into the singles in Chicago only to lose by a single point, was part of the 11-man task force created to examine all aspects of the United States Ryder Cup process after the defeat at Gleneagles, but was thought to be behind 2008 captain Paul Azinger and Fred Couples in the pecking order.

Cricket legend calls for Ireland promotion

John Mooney hit the winning runs for Ireland at the World Cup

John Mooney hit the winning runs for Ireland at the World Cup

Ireland’s World Cup victory over West Indies has convinced cricket legend Michael Holding they deserve to be granted immediate Test status.

International Cricket Council constitution, updated last year, provides a pathway for Ireland and other aspiring nations to play Tests in the foreseeable future.

Even so, there remain those who fear a 'glass ceiling', not least for a country like Ireland who – without Test status – continue to run the risk of losing their best players to neighbouring England.

They nonetheless began their World Cup campaign with a four-wicket win over the Windies in Nelson on Sunday, a performance former pace-bowling great Holding believes is stronger evidence than ever that Ireland should be fast-tracked.

Holding, part of the Windies' much-feared seam attack in their glory days during the 1970s and 80s, told Wisden India: "Ireland need to be recognised now.

"It's about time … if they continue to linger around the lower regions of world cricket they'll continue to lose good cricketers.

"(Eoin) Morgan left Ireland to play for England because he saw brighter prospects."

Ireland's next match in the cricket World Cup will come against United Arab Emirates next Wednesday.

Wales edge out Scotland in thriller

Wales' Jonathan Davies runs through to score a try against Scotland

Wales’ Jonathan Davies runs through to score a try against Scotland


Wales claimed an eighth successive victory over Scotland as they revived their Six Nations title hopes following a thrilling 26-23 win at Murrayfield.

Nine days after being silenced on home soil by England, the dragon rediscovered its roar to an extent as tries by scrum-half Rhys Webb and centre Jonathan Davies consigned Scotland to a second Six Nations defeat in a row.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who delivered an immaculate performance in attack and defence, kicked 16 points, while Scotland replied through a breakaway Stuart Hogg score and substitute lock Jim Hamilton's late touchdown, plus three Greig Laidlaw penalties and a conversion, and a Finn Russell conversion.

The Scots again showed obvious signs of their improvement under coach Vern Cotter, yet Wales looked a more dangerous team with ball in hand and possessed outstanding runners in Webb, Davies and Halfpenny.

Wales, though, still have to do it the hard way if they have any realistic aspirations of Six Nations silverware.

Sam Warburton's men know they cannot afford another defeat, and their next two games are against France in Paris and at home to reigning Six Nations champions Ireland.

For Scotland, it is far from a case of going back to the drawing board, as they again displayed some high-class rugby to confirm a feelgood factor that has surrounded them since Cotter took charge last year.

Both sides showed two changes from contrasting opening round Six Nations defeats as they faced a make-or-break game.

Sean Lamont replaced injured Scotland wing Tommy Seymour and prop Geoff Cross took over from Euan Murray, who does not play on Sundays for religious reasons.

Wales, meanwhile, opted to rest powerful wing George North, who took two heavy blows to his head during the 21-16 defeat against England last week, so Liam Williams deputised, with Ospreys forward Aaron Jarvis replacing concussed tighthead prop Samson Lee.

And the visitors made a bright start, moving deep into Scottish territory through some precise phase-play. Halfpenny opened their account with a short-range penalty after six minutes.

Wales, though, pressed the self-destruct button just three minutes later when Scotland lock Richie Gray stole turnover possession 10 metres inside his own half, and Hogg outsprinted a shell-shocked Welsh blindside defence to claim an opportunist try that Laidlaw converted.

Scotland should have punished Wales again shortly afterwards when Russell broke with menace, but centre Alex Dunbar's pass failed to find his midfield partner Mark Bennett and a glorious chance went astray.

A Laidlaw penalty then put Scotland 10-3 ahead, but that strike was quickly cancelled out by Halfpenny's second successful kick as Wales cut their arrears at the end of a breathless opening quarter.

Wales continued to look dangerous with ball in hand, and it looked as though Halfpenny would complete his penalty hat-trick from inside Scotland's 22, but skipper Warburton opted for a kick to the corner and an attacking lineout instead, only for his team to then be penalised.

There was no obvious pattern to the match, but Wales gained a numerical advantage nine minutes before half-time when Russell received a yellow card after a mid-air challenge on his opposite number Dan Biggar.

And Scotland were punished almost immediately as Wales launched a flowing attack highlighted by Davies' surging run, before Webb collected Williams' inside pass and posted his second try in successive Six Nations games this season.

Halfpenny landed the touchline conversion attempt, taking Wales into a 16-10 lead, but the numbers were then evened out when Davies saw yellow for a poor tackle on Scotland number eight Johnnie Beattie.

And that was a cue for Scotland to put Wales on the back foot as half-time approached, with the visitors requiring some frantic last-ditch defending to preserve their advantage and troop off six points clear at the break.

Scotland immediately cut the gap after Russell returned through another Laidlaw penalty when Wales centre Jamie Roberts was punished for not releasing, but a more ominous-looking sign for Wales was a scrum that creaked with worrying regularity.

Halfpenny's fourth successful penalty then made it 19-13 to Wales, before a Laidlaw strike cut the gap, but Wales should have moved clear when they broke Scotland's defence midway through the second period.

Williams dived gleefully to score in the corner, yet referee Glenn Jackson consulted the television match official and then rightly ruled out the try following obstruction by two Wales forwards during the immediate build-up.

But Wales were not to be denied, and they effectively made the game safe 16 minutes from time when Davies crashed through a couple of weak tackles, touching down between the posts for a try that Halfpenny converted.

Hamilton touched down with the game's final attacking phase, with Russell converting, but Wales prevailed and collected two vital points.