Every morning TheScore.ie brings you the stories you need to know before that first cup of coffee.
1. #RECOVERY Ireland defender Richard Dunne hopes to be able to resume training in two weeks’ time after undergoing a second operation on his troublesome groin injury. The Aston Villa defender – in the final year of his contract at the Birmingham club – initially suffered the problem during Euro 2012 and has not played since. Dunne told the Birmingham Mail: “The last operation I had seems to have really worked so I’m hopeful that I’ll be back soon.
“I’ve set a few targets but I keep missing them. It’s frustrating when I can do all the running and the rehab but not the final bit. But I’m hoping – fingers crossed – that I can start training in a couple of weeks. I’ve got to see the doctor and from there, hopefully it will be the all clear.”
2. #GUINNESS SERIES Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip have emerged as the main contenders to captain Ireland in their upcoming clash with South Africa. Brian O’Driscoll and Rory Best have been ruled out, while it’s looking increasinly like Paul O’Connell will also miss the game against the Springboks.
3. #CONNACHT Staying with rugby, and Connacht have secured their front-row future by tying down props Ronan Loughney and Brett Wilkinson to contract extensions. Tighthead Loughney and loosehead Wilkinson have both agreed new deals to remain at the Sportsground until 2015, the province said on Thursday evening.
“I’m thrilled to have officially committed to Connacht for another two years,” Loughney said. “There’s nothing better than playing for your province and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
4. #PREMIER LEAGUE Arsene Wenger wants fans of Arsenal to be respectful towards former captain Robin van Persie when they travel to Old Trafford for the clash against Manchester United. As a single snowflake bravely made its way down to the fiery pits of hell, the Gunners boss said: “I hope (the reception) is a respectful one because he has played for us for eight years, and he has done very well for us. We campaign against discrimination, it was still the case last week so why should it not be the case this week?”
5. #GOLF Shane Lowry has a share of third place in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China after he shot four-under-par in Friday’s second round, along with American Jason Dufner. Leader Louis Oosthuizen blazed his way to 16-under with a nine-under-par 63, and the South African lies five shots clear of Ernie Els and Adam Scott. Lowry and Dufner are one shot behind the second placed pair.
6. #WEB AWARDS 2012 If our spelling is a little off today, if we misplace an apostrophe here and there, please forgive us – we’re still in celebratory mood after scooping Best Sports site at the Irish Web Awards on Thursday night. Still no sign of those magnums (magna? or magnae?) of champagne in Journal HQ, but we live in hope.