Tag Archives: connell

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Heineken Cup: Harlequins 12 Munster 18: Quins European hopes ended by Irish

Harlequins 12 Munster 18: Resurgent O'Connell jumps back into the Lions queue

PUBLISHED:

15:17 GMT, 7 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:09 GMT, 7 April 2013

It may have been basic, but Munster strangled the English champions and were led by Paul O’Connell, who jumped and tackled his way back into Lions contention.

The 2009 Lions captain led a second-half charge which left Chris Robshaw and his Premiership men looking stunned in front of a full house of 15,000.

Munster’s pack won the crucial collisions — paving the way for another rejuvenated Irish master, Ronan O’Gara, to kick six penalties — four in the space of 14 minutes after the interval.

Resurgent: Paul O'Connell (centre) produced a dominant performance that must have put him back in Lions contention

Resurgent: Paul O'Connell (centre) produced a dominant performance that must have put him back in Lions contention

Quins’ previous Heineken Cup quarter-final four years ago, ended in the ‘Bloodgate’ scandal and a 6-5 win for Leinster.

The ramifications will not be as seismic this time, but Quins’ season is now in danger of collapse after three successive Premiership defeats.

They had turned around 9-6 ahead to harbour hopes of reaching a first semi-final at the fourth attempt, but that belief was shattered by Munster’s start to the second half.

O’Gara, shaking off the dis-appointment of being dropped by Ireland during the Six Nations, calmly kicked four penalties to follow his two shots before the interval.

Thin red line: The Munster No 8 steals the ball from Quins No 8 Nick Easter at the lineout

Thin red line: The Munster No 8 steals the ball from Quins No 8 Nick Easter at the lineout

O’Connell led the pack to give watching Lions coach Warren Gatland a firm reminder of his class and strength. On this showing O’Connell, who missed Ireland’s Six Nations campaign due to a back complaint, is a candidate to lead the Lions again following his impressive stint on the 2009 tour to South Africa.

For the moment, the 33-year-old refuses to discuss the prospect. ‘I’ve got a little bit to go in terms of match fitness but this was another injury-free day and I’m delighted to be back,’ he said.
Munster coach Rob Penney believes O’Connell will be ‘humming’ by the time of the Lions’ crucial games in Australia.

Quins director of rugby Conor O’Shea was also full of praise for O’Connell and a Munster pack in which back-rowers Tommy O’Donnell and Peter O’Mahony were outstanding.

Thank Evans: Quins' New Zealand fly-half Nick Evans secures another three points during the home side's rampant start

Thank Evans: Quins' New Zealand fly-half Nick Evans secures another three points during the home side's rampant start

O’Shea said: ‘Paul was absolutely magnificent. They rallied around him and followed him.’

O’Shea now has the task of re-energising his own team. ‘We didn’t play the way we can play because we weren’t allowed,’ was his blunt assessment.

‘Munster bossed the start of the second half and from then on it was a very big mountain to climb.
‘Our job is to qualify for the Premiership play-offs. We will be written off, no doubt, but we will just have to learn.’

Such thoughts seemed unlikely when Quins took charge at the opening scrums.

Pull the other one: Nick Easter drags back Paul O'Connell by his shirt before bringing him down

Pull the other one: Nick Easter drags back Paul O'Connell by his shirt before bringing himdown

The pressure brought a 6-0 lead through two penalties from Nick Evans and it was Munster who looked likely to crack.

But there were no clear try-scoring chances and the match became increasingly nervy as O’Connell and his gang started to win the crucial decisions from French referee Jerome Garces.

A third penalty from Evans helped Quins limp to a 9-6 lead at half-time and Munster turned to play into a stiff wind.

That handicap looked to make them more focused and a brilliant period of pressure rugby was rewarded by O’Gara’s nerveless kicking. He took Munster to a lead of 18-9 after 56 minutes.

Red riding hood: Munster's famous support were out in force at the Stoop

Red riding hood: Munster's famous support were out in force at the Stoop

A fourth penalty from Evans raised Quins’ hopes in the 65th, only for Munster to produce some clinical ‘keep-ball’ rugby and close out the match — much to the delight of their big following.

O’Connell claimed his team had not talked about such tactics, although his smile said something else. ‘The maul worked well and our kicking game was outstanding — you can’t win these tight games without that,’ he said in praise of O’Gara.

O’Shea refused to blame referee Garces for Quins’ demise. ‘Sometimes you have to say that the better team won,’ he conceded.
Smash and grab: England and Quins Mike Brown is wrestled to the ground by Munster's James Coughlan

Smash and grab: England and Quins Mike Brown is wrestled to the ground by Munster's James Coughlan

Sorry, sir: Quins captain Chris Robshaw is lectured by French referee Jerome Garces

Sorry, sir: Quins captain Chris Robshaw is lectured by French referee Jerome Garces

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Bradford 3 Aston Villa 1 match report

Bradford 3 Aston Villa 1: Inspired Bantams on the verge of Wembley after sinking Villa

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 8 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:38 GMT, 8 January 2013

An inspired performance from Bradford moved them closer to a trip to Wembley as they beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg.

Nahki Wells opened the scoring in the 19th minute when he latched onto Zavon Hines’s deflected shot before Rory McArdle’s second-half header had the League Two side dreaming.

Andreas Weimann scored a late away goal for the Premier League side but Carl McHugh's header soon after gave the League Two side a two-goal lead going into the second leg at Villa Park on January 22.

More to follow

Opener: Wells gave Bradford the lead in the 19th minute

Opener: Wells gave Bradford the lead in the 19th minute

Shirty: The Bermudan striker celebrated by revealing a message

Shirty: The Bermudan striker celebrated by revealing a message

Shirty: The Bermudan striker celebrated by revealing a message

MATCH FACTS

Bradford: Duke, Darby, McArdle, McHugh, Good, Hines (Turgott 66), Gary Jones, Doyle, Atkinson, Wells, Hanson.

Subs not used: McLaughlin, Ravenhill, Reid, Ritchie Jones, Hannah, Connell.

Goals: Wells 19, McArdle 77, McHugh 88.

Booked: McHugh

Aston Villa: Given, Lowton, Clark, Baker, Bennett, Agbonlahor (Bent 57, Burke 85), Delph, Bannan, N'Zogbia, Benteke, Weimann.

Subs not used: Guzan, Ireland, Stevens, Lichaj, Carruthers.

Goal: Weimann 82.

Booked: N'Zogbia, Delph.

Att:

Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

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Paul O"Connell doubtful for Six Nations

Ireland's injury crisis worsens with O'Connell doubtful for Six Nations ahead of back surgery

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UPDATED:

14:53 GMT, 30 December 2012

Former Lions captain Paul O'Connell is a major doubt for Ireland's upcoming Six Nations campaign after his provincial side Munster announced that he would be undergoing surgery on a back injury that has blighted his season.

O'Connell has been dogged by injury in recent years and has only played two games for Munster this season with the back injury also forcing him to sit out Ireland's November internationals.

Green giant: O'Connell captained Ireland throughout last year's Six Nations

Green giant: O'Connell captained Ireland throughout last year's Six Nations

A statement from Munster revealed that the 33-year-old lock would undergo back surgery at the earliest opportunity but did not give a time frame for how long his recovery would take.

Ulster wing Tommy Bowe, the country's third highest try scorer of all time, was ruled out of the Six Nations earlier this month with a knee injury. Ireland open their campaign in Wales on February 2.

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Harpsy Cord falls at final fence in Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase at Limerick

No laughing matter at Limerick as Harpsy Cord falls at the last having led from the front

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UPDATED:

17:56 GMT, 27 December 2012

There was agony for backers of Harpsy Cord in the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase as, after leading all the way, he crashed out at the final fence when five lengths clear and seemingly having the two mile three-and-a-half furlong race at his mercy.

That left course specialist Jack Absolute (16-1) in front and he had to be kept right up to his work to hold off Tullintain by a length-and-a-quarter and land the 21,000 prize.

It was not what Harpsy Cord deserved as he had jumped brilliantly in the hands of Keith Donoghue but after pecking on landing at the second-last he got in too tight to the final fence to gift victory to the John Walsh-trained nine-year-old in the hands of Brian O'Connell.

Going... Harpsy Cord clips the final fence at the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Steeplechase

Going… Harpsy Cord clips the final fence at the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Steeplechase

Going... Harpsy Cord clips the final fence at the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Steeplechase

Going... Donoghue is sent flying over the top of Harpsy Cord as he fails to regain his footing

Going… Donoghue is sent flying over the top of Harpsy Cord as he fails to regain his footing

Going... Donoghue is sent flying over the top of Harpsy Cord as he fails to regain his footing

Gone: Both horse and jockey (who were OK after the fall) hit the deck and kiss goodbye to their hopes of winning

Gone: Both horse and jockey (who were OK after the fall) hit the deck and kiss goodbye to their hopes of winning

Gone: Both horse and jockey (who were OK after the fall) hit the deck and kiss goodbye to their hopes of winning

Walsh said: 'That's his eighth win and his sixth around here so it's definitely a case of horses for courses.

'Today was the plan and you can't beat a bit of luck!'

The Earl of Harrington Memorial Maiden Hunters Chase will also live long in the memory for the wrong reasons after the attritional conditions resulted in 13 of the 16 runners failing to complete the course.

The race was won by 11-2 chance Goonyella who slogged through mud best of all to come home a distance clear of Survival, with Thetalkisover (pictured) the only other finisher back in third. The win provided a welcome fillip for trainer Tom Dreaper who had been so luckless earlier in the afternoon with Harpsy Cord.

Conditions took their toll on John Gleeson-trained Thetalkisover who refused to jump the final fence at the first time of asking but finally consented to clamber over and take third place despite being exhausted.

Third time lucky: Thetalkinisover initially refused to jump the final fence in the Hunters Steeplechase

Third time lucky: Thetalkinisover initially refused to jump the final fence in the Hunters Steeplechase

Third time lucky: Thetalkinisover initially refused to jump the final fence in the Hunters Steeplechase

Third time lucky: Thetalkinisover initially refused to jump the final fence in the Hunters Steeplechase

Third time lucky: Thetalkinisover initially refused to jump the final fence in the Hunters Steeplechase

Katie Walsh was feared to have suffered a shoulder injury when Pocketfullapennies came down at the seventh-last but later tweeted she was 'fine just sore!!'.

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Ian Wright says Arsenal fans trusting in Arsene Wenger are deluded

If you trust in Arsene you're deluded! Wright joins other Gunners legends and turns on Wenger

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UPDATED:

17:44 GMT, 14 December 2012

Ian Wright has labelled Arsenal fans 'deluded' if they still support Arsene Wenger as manager, joining a host of Arsenal legends in rounding on the Gunners' boss.

Speaking on Absolute Radio, the former Arsenal striker said: 'There’s a lot of deluded Arsenal fans, who are out in the wilderness, still saying “In Arsene We Trust” and all that.

'It is a unique position that Wenger is in – I think that any other manager in any country, in any world, with a record like this and no prospect of light at the end of the tunnel – they would have been gone by now.

Speak your mind: Ian Wright blasted Arsenal fans who still backed the sentiment of 'In Wenger we trust'

Speak your mind: Ian Wright blasted Arsenal fans who still backed the sentiment of 'In Wenger we trust'

And Wright, one of Arsenal’s greatest ever forwards, has called on Arsenal and their manager to start being honest with their supporters.

'When you hear him do interviews after a game and say that he has a great team with a good spirit – well, hang on a minute, we really are not seeing that.

'He may be seeing something in training that we aren’t seeing but he doesn’t tell the truth and say what is happening. And what I’ve said for years and years is that I want some transparency.

'I just want to know, what is going on Have you (Wenger) got any money to spend or haven’t you Is it the board not giving you the money to spend or is it the case that the board are giving you money to spend but you aren’t spending it

'Is that too hard a question to answer Arsenal, with the size of that club that I love, should not be in the predicament that it finds itself in right now.'

However, Wright does not believe that Wenger will choose to leave the club out of his own volition, telling presenter Christian O’Connell replied: 'No. He won’t step down. I don’t think he’s that kind of person.'

The former England striker is the latest in a series of former Arsenal heroes who have blasted Wenger since Arsenal’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Bradford in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.

Pressure: Arsene Wenger is under the cosh at the moment with fans and former club legends turning on him

Pressure: Arsene Wenger is under the cosh at the moment with fans and former club legends turning on him

Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit, who spent three years at the club in the 1990s, has this morning claimed that Arsenal are now seen as a stepping stone to greater things and fears that the club will struggle to attract top-name signings given their current form.

Petit, 42, said: 'The big worry today is that even if Arsenal have the money who are they going to get to join the club now

'The idea they have been giving off for seven years is that it’s a club which doesn’t win trophies and at the end of the season their best players will leave.

'The feeling is that Arsenal are creating a generation of players who will leave in the hope of going to another club in order to win something.'

Meanwhile, Wenger has also come under fire from former Arsenal boss George Graham, who has criticised the manager and the board for their lack of ambition in the transfer market, and does not believe that the club are capable of winning another Premier League title.

Graham, who also managed Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur, told The Sun: “I don’t think Arsenal are ever going to compete with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Struggle: Emmanuel Petit (left) said big name players might not want to join the club

Struggle: Emmanuel Petit (left) said big name players might not want to join the club

'I thought they could have competed with United because they don’t spend the money the other two do, but Arsenal are not going to compete with them either.

'They have got a structure at the club on transfers and wages. They are very strict on those. They have more or less said to fans that is the way they are going to run the club.

'They can still pick up cups and qualify for Europe, but will they win the Premier League title again I can’t see it.'

However, former Gunners’ midfielder Ray Parlour has defended Wenger, explaining that Wenger will be dealing with the issues behind the scenes.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he explained: 'I played under Arsene Wenger and thought he was a great manager when I was there. He was always one of those managers you could talk to.'

Silverware: George Graham (right) and Tony Adams at the end of the 1990-91 season in which Arsenal won the title and the former picked up the manager of the year trophy

Silverware: George Graham (right) and Tony Adams at the end of the 1990-91 season in which Arsenal won the title and the former picked up the manager of the year trophy

'Arsene Wenger is one of those sort of guys who will always try to stick up for his players.

'We would have meetings after games and it would all come out in the dressing room, which (is how) it should be. It is a private matter between the players, the manager and the staff.

'It was quite embarrassing to lose to Bradford, there is no doubting that, but I think he is one of those guys who does criticise people behind the scenes instead of in the press.'

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Ireland 12 South Africa 16: match report

Ireland 12 South Africa 16: Sexton's points not enough to hold off powerful Sprinkboks

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UPDATED:

21:03 GMT, 10 November 2012

Ireland's hopes of humbling South Africa were picked apart in a one-sided second half of tonight's Guinness Series opener at Aviva Stadium.

Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties as the Irish seized the 12-3 interval lead their dominance deserved, only for the Springboks to then ignite their power game.

Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar crossed for the night's only try in the 45th minute and Pat Lambie kicked 11 points as South Africa, who started as strong favourites, took control.

Turning it on: Ruan Pienaar (centre) scored the only try of the match against Ireland

Turning it on: Ruan Pienaar (centre) scored the only try of the match against Ireland

The result condemned Ireland to a fifth successive Test defeat, which is their worst losing run for 14 years as they failed to claim redemption for a painful 60-0 drubbing by New Zealand in June.

Missing the highly-influential Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Rory Best, Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney to injury, they entered the match unburdened by high expectations.

But despite the absence of six key personnel, they will be disappointed by their inability to dispatch opposition that was lethargic and pedestrian in the first half.

Ireland have won three of their last four meetings with South Africa and tonight was a missed opportunity to improve that sequence.

The absence of Lions captains O'Driscoll and O'Connell saw Jamie Heaslip lead the team for the first time and while he sought to inspire his side, he was sin-binned in the second half.

Full-back Simon Zebo, winning his second cap, passed an early test under the high ball and moments later Gordon D'Arcy launched an intelligent counter-attack that ended with a poor chip kick from Keith Earls.

Just 10 minutes into the game and South Africa had conceded four cheap penalties, two of which were sent between the uprights by Sexton.

It was an encouraging start by muscular Ireland, who were having few problems dealing with the Springboks' route one approach.

All in black: Ireland donned a full black strip so not to clash with the Sprinkboks' green

All in black: Ireland donned a full black strip so not to clash with the Sprinkboks' green

All in black: Ireland donned a full black strip so not to clash with the Sprinkboks' green

Earls knocked on just as he was sent through a gap by Sexton and the fly-half then took time to climb to his feet after halting a bulldozing run by JP Pietersen.

Lambie and Sexton exchanged penalties but Ireland were still playing most of the rugby, showing invention as they worked their way downfield.

D'Arcy was thriving in the absence of O'Driscoll as he welcomed the responsibility of being the senior figure in Ireland's midfield.

Repeatedly tested under the high ball, Tommy Bowe had impressed while man of the match Mike McCarthy and the Irish back row of Heaslip, Peter O'Mahony and Chris Henry were making their presence felt.

South Africa's composure crumbled as first Willem Alberts kneed Sexton in the ribs and then Pietersen was sent to the sin bin for using the shoulder while tackling Henry early.

Another three points from Sexton punished the Springboks' indiscipline as Ireland opened a 12-3 lead they fully merited.

The home side's superiority in broken play and out wide was evident, but they also looked happy to mix it with the bigger South African pack.

Sexton missed his first penalty of the evening and the half finished with Springbok scrum-half Pienaar falling short from long range.

McCarthy cut Eben Etzebeth in half with a bone-jarring hit just moments after Cian Healy had wobbled off to be assessed by a specialist in the concussion bin.

Point scoring: Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties

Point scoring: Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties

But South Africa were finally coming alive and almost crossed through hooker Adriaan Strauss at a line-out drive in a passage of play that saw Heaslip sin-binned for standing offside.

Scenting blood, the Springboks went for the jugular and were rewarded when Pienaar darted over from close range with Lambie converting.

The landscape of the match now look radically different with rejuvenated South Africa just two points behind.

Captain Jean de Villiers bulldozed through D'Arcy and Earls as referee Wayne Barnes offered Lambie another shot at goal which he took.

Ireland responded with a fiery passage of play that ended when Healy, who had passed his concussion test, was penalised for failing to release the ball.

Sexton and Lambie both fell short with a long-range kicks in a pressure-cooker final quarter of the match.
South Africa were now gaining a foothold at the scrum, winning two penalties in quick succession, the second of which Lambie steered between the uprights.

Ireland desperately chased the late score that would nudge them back into the lead, but were strangled out of the game by the canny Springboks.

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David Rudisha plans to break 800 metres world record again

Rudisha plans assault on his own 800m world record set at London Olympics

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UPDATED:

14:22 GMT, 29 August 2012

Olympic champion David Rudisha plans to attack his 800 metres world record when he runs his final race of the season on Thursday.

Rudisha said he will 'try and see if it’s possible' to run faster than the 1 minute, 40.91 seconds he set at the London Olympics when he competes at the Weltklasse Diamond League meet.

'That’s what I’m looking for. This being my last race of the season, I think I just want to give my best,' the 23-year-old Kenyan said.

Lesson: David Rudisha lends his expertise to children in Aarau, Switzerland ahead of the Weltklasse meet

Lesson: David Rudisha lends his expertise to children in Aarau, Switzerland ahead of the Weltklasse meet

Rudisha led throughout his Olympic victory three weeks ago but will use training partner Sammy Tangui to pace him through the first 400 on Thursday.

'The last lap I do it myself,' said Rudisha, whose first appearance since winning the gold medal will be just his 11th competitive race this year.

'Every race is important in our season and we always want to do the best every time.'

Not done yet: The Kenyan spoke at a press conference in Zurich on Wednesday

Not done yet: The Kenyan spoke at a press conference in Zurich on Wednesday

That selective program was designed with Rudisha’s coach, an Irish missionary based in Kenya who has come to Zurich to see the race.

'After what he did in London without a pace-setter, you wonder if he really needs one,' coach Colm O’Connell said.

O’Connell described Rudisha as a 'great student' of the 800m who has analyzed how previous record holders Sebastian Coe and Wilson Kipketer ran their races.

Stealing the show: Rudisha smashed the 800m world record at London 2012

Stealing the show: Rudisha smashed the 800m world record at London 2012

At Zurich in 1997, Kipketer set the second of his three world record times, a 1:41.24 run, just weeks after lowering Coe’s mark of 1:41.73 which had stood for 16 years. Kipketer’s 13-year reign was ended by Rudisha in 2010.

Still, the Swiss weather could harm Rudisha’s chances at the sold-out Letzigrund stadium with rain and 15-degree (61 Fahrenheit) temperatures forecast.

'The weather plays a very big role,' acknowledged Rudisha, who won his two previous appearances at Zurich. 'I have run very few races in the raining and the cold.'

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Scott Sinclair"s brother Martin named in Great Britain squad for Paralympic World Cup

Scott Sinclair's brother Martin named in Great Britain squad for Paralympic World Cup

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UPDATED:

13:56 GMT, 2 May 2012

Great Britain's paralympic football coach Lyndon Lynch has named a strong-looking squad for the forthcoming World Cup.

The party is a man-for-man replica of the one which will head to the Paralympics this summer, and will line-up against Brazil, Republic of Ireland and the United States between May 23 and 26 in Manchester.

Family values: Martin Sinclair

Family values: Martin Sinclair

'Our squad is in tremendous shape and I know that everyone involved with the team is really looking forward to the BT Paralympic World Cup,' Lynch said.

'We've got a great mixture of older and younger players, with a whole wealth of experience between them, so it's just the right ingredients for a successful campaign up in Manchester.

'With the Paralympics just around the corner, the lads will be desperate to put in some top draw performances, performances they can take away with them into the Games.'

Matt Dimbylow is one of four survivors from the last World Cup in 2010, while Martin Sinclair, brother of Swansea's Scott, is also included.

Great Britain squad: Craig Connell, Billy Thompson, George Fletcher, Matt Dimbylow, Blair Glynn, Josh Beacham, Martin Sinclair, Jonathan Paterson, James Richmond, Alistair-Patrick Heselton, Ibrahima Diallo, Michael Barker.

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Paolo Di Canio"s mum dies as Swindon win

Di Canio in tears as mum dies on day Swindon edge ever closer to promotion

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 14 April 2012

Wearing a black armband, Paolo di Canio led Swindon to the point of promotion on Saturday — just hours after learning that his mother Pierina had died.

Incredibly, Di Canio lost his father Ignazio just before they played the same opposition earlier this season.

And in a further emotional twist, Swindon captain Alan McCormack pulled out of the game just five minutes before the warm-up, because his wife had gone into labour. /04/14/article-0-1298D2E8000005DC-332_468x307.jpg” width=”468″ height=”307″ alt=”Winner: Swindon celebrate their goal with manager Paolo Di Canio (hidden)” class=”blkBorder” />

Winner: Swindon celebrate their goal with manager Paolo Di Canio (hidden)

Di Canio, 43, refused to desert his post until another three points had been secured.

And he received a long embrace from matchwinner Alan Connell, who lost his mother three years ago.

Emotional: Paolo Di Canio cries

Emotional: Paolo Di Canio cries

The passionate Italian flew to Italy on Wednesday to say goodbye to his mother for the last time, returning to take training on Thursday.

Yet despite that black armband, few knew what had happened until Swindon chief executive Nick Watkins broke the sad news to more than 10,000 spectators at the County Ground, most of whom had stayed behind to celebrate the fact that their manager has all but secured the club’s promotion to League One.

/04/14/article-0-1298D2E0000005DC-468_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Main man: Di Canio has led Swindon to the brink of promotion to League One” class=”blkBorder” />

Main man: Di Canio has led Swindon to the brink of promotion to League One

‘To achieve the success he has in his first year of management against the
backdrop of losing both his parents is extraordinary and he deserves our love and the love of the fans. We are under no illusions that Paolo will spend his entire career here, because he will go right to the top in management one day.’

Connell, whose goal put Swindon on the brink of promotion, revealed: ‘We
knew his mum was very close to passing away. I lost my mother three years ago and we were very emotional when we celebrated the goal. I understand what he is going through and I’m proud to have offered him some comfort.’

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SIX NATIONS 2012: Ireland desperate to beat England

Ferris determined to lead Ireland to victory against 'arrogant' English

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UPDATED:

18:13 GMT, 14 March 2012

Stephen Ferris has accused England of being 'bad losers' as Ireland prepare to launch their assault on Twickenham.

Losing has become a habit in the fixture for the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions, who have tasted defeat in seven of their past eight championship meetings.

Ireland have also triumphed on three of their previous four trips to Twickenham and Ferris, the destructive Ulster flanker, hopes that sequence improves this weekend.

Up for it: Stephen Ferris (centre) is desperate to help Ireland beat England

Up for it: Stephen Ferris (centre) is desperate to help Ireland beat England

'If you ask any team who do they like beating and it's always the English. Why It's something I can't really put my finger on!' he said.

'We took so many beatings from England at under-age level. Any time we played under-18s, 19s or 20s we always received a thumping. I never beat them.

'They come with a bit of a tag about being arrogant and if you asked any team they'd probably say the same thing.

'They're a good side and are full of winners, but when they lose they don't like it.

'They're bad losers and hopefully they'll be bad losers on Saturday.'

Ferris' Ulster team-mate Rory Best, who will lead the side once again in the injury-enforced absence of Paul O'Connell, insists Ireland's superiority explains their impressive record against England.

'They've always been tough, close games but this Ireland side have been very good over the last 10 years and that's why we've edged it,' he said.

Winning feeling: A rejuvenated England beat France in Paris last weekend

Winning feeling: A rejuvenated England beat France in Paris last weekend

'England are on a high but we're going well as well. It will be mentally challenging. Whoever can start the best will win the game.'

The match falls on St Patrick's Day and while Best acknowledged such an occasion can be motivational, he warned of the perils of becoming too wound up.

'A little bit of emotion in international rugby does no harm as long as it doesn't consume you,' he said.

'Emotion allows you to go to places that your body didn't think you could and you need that to win internationals away from home.

'But we have to make sure we have clear heads so that we can execute our game plan.'

Leinster's Sean O'Brien will start against England despite having spent last week in hospital recovering from a skin infection on his foot.

Munster openside Peter O'Mahony, who impressed on his full debut in Saturday's 32-14 rout of Scotland, drops to the bench to make room for the 25-year-old.