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Sexton set for Wales showdown

first_img British and Irish Lion Sexton has been widely hailed as the world’s form fly-half as Ireland have swept to a record-equalling run of 10 consecutive Test victories. The 29-year-old limped out of the closing stages of Ireland’s 19-9 victory over England in Dublin on March 1, with Irish bosses admitting only on Monday that he still had to prove his fitness. Joe Schmidt’s side can take a giant leap towards a first Grand Slam in six years with victory over Warren Gatland’s Wales in Cardiff this weekend. Sexton’s return to fitness hands Ireland a huge boost in the quest for back-to-back Six Nations titles for the first time since 1949. Ireland skills coach Murphy admitted Sexton is yet to go through goal-kicking drills at full tilt, but backed the peerless playmaker to ease through the rest of the week. “He’s dealing with the rehab guys really, so they have him on a programme bringing him through that,” said Murphy. “He kicked a couple of balls on Sunday, did a little bit more yesterday and more again today. “So he’s in a good place, he trained fully and was running at 100 per cent today. “He will be ready for the weekend. “His kicking drills, he’s probably not hitting them 100 per cent yet, but today’s Tuesday, Saturday is a long way away. “And he’ll be ready to go.” Gordon D’Arcy has been overlooked for Ireland’s 36-man training squad to close the Six Nations, but Murphy backed the stalwart centre to force his way back into the World Cup reckoning. The 35-year-old Leinster centre chose to press on when long-term partner Brian O’Driscoll retired last summer, in a clear bid to feature in the 2015 global battle in England. Ireland coach Murphy insisted Schmidt would continue to monitor the 81-cap midfielder’s form with Leinster closely, leaving an open route back into the Test squad. “I think Gordon has had a little bit of a broken season through the odd injury and this and that,” said Murphy. “He’s a fantastic player and he’s been brilliant for Ireland and Leinster over something like 15 years, so the door is definitely not closed. “He’s a class act and a guy that we’re going to keep a very close eye on towards the end of the season to see where he’s at.” Number eight Heaslip has been on the comeback trail after suffering a fractured vertebrae in his back, while O’Brien and Payne have both proved their fitness after concussion. “Johnny took full part in training this morning, he has done all the team stuff and trained well,” said Murphy. “Everyone else has come through, Jamie trained Monday and Tuesday so he’s fit and healthy and ready to go. “And the two boys, Jared and Sean O’Brien both passed their return to play protocols. “They have done contact today so as long as there’s no reaction over the next 24 hours they are both fit and ready to go. “It looks like a full deck to pick from, and everyone is very upbeat. Everyone enjoyed that session this morning, the intensity was right up there. “Having everyone fit and healthy is a massive thing for the squad because it puts pressure on everyone. “The environment gets a nice little buzz off that.” Johnny Sexton has been passed fit for Ireland’s pivotal RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. Assistant coach Richie Murphy confirmed that Ireland’s lynchpin fly-half trained fully on Tuesday, after recovering from hamstring trouble. Murphy said Ireland now have “a full deck to pick from” with Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and Jared Payne all cleared to face Wales this weekend. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Former Jets coach Walt Michaels, architect of Super Bowl 3 upset, dies at 89

first_img Redskins’ Josh Norman runs with bulls in Pamplona, Spain: It was ‘crazy’ “Walt never wavered in his belief that Don Shula was responsible for the uncovered field,” longtime Jets beat writer Rich Cimini tweeted in the wake of Michaels’ death.That turned out to be Michaels’ final game with the Jets; he resigned under pressure a short time after the loss.He  would go on to coach the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1984 and ’85, going 25-11 in two seasons. Walt Michaels, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and former Jets head coach who was a key figure in one of pro football’s biggest upsets, died Wednesday, his daughter confirmed (via the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader). He was 89.Michaels, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, became a coach after his retirement as a player and was the Jets’ defensive coordinator in their stunning victory over the Colts in Super Bowl 3, the first time the AFL defeated the NFL in the young championship. Hue Jackson hopes to be an NFL head coach againcenter_img A native of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s coal country, Michaels never forgot his roots, as a player or coach.”His work ethic did come from this area,” said his daughter, Mary Ann. “My father understood what hard work was. He never missed work — no sick days and no personal days. He never forgot his roots.”Teammates and players alike respected that in Michaels.He spent most of his playing career with the Browns and was part of two NFL championship teams with Cleveland, which made it to the NFL title game five times during his stint with the team.Michaels left the Jets to become the Eagles’ defensive coordinator before returning in 1976 to New York, where he was promoted to head coach the next year.In six seasons as the Jets coach, he went 39-47-1 and presided over a “Gang Green” team whose defensive line grew to fame as “the New York Sack Exchange.” During his tenure, the Jets advanced to the AFC championship one time, after the strike-shortened 1982 regular season. New York suffered a controversial loss to the Dolphins, 14-0, in a game dubbed “The Mud Bowl.”The controversy sprung from the fact that the Dolphins never covered the Orange Bowl field during a 72-hour rainstorm that hit Miami ahead of the game. Field conditions limited Jets star running back Freeman McNeil and put the offensive onus on inconsistent quarterback Richard Todd as New York was held scoreless.Nearly four decades later, the Jets remain winless in AFC championships (0-4) and haven’t reached a Super Bowl since their historic win in January 1969. Ironically, Don Shula was the Colts coach in that game, and later as the Dolphins coach he’s the man Michaels blamed for the sloppy conditions in Miami in the ill-fated AFC title game. His defense held the 13-1 Colts to a lone touchdown in what became a 16-7 victory for Joe Namath and the Jets, who entered the game as 18-point underdogs.Michaels’ defenses — as a coordinator and later the Jets’ head coach — were a reflection of the man himself. Related Newslast_img read more