A Grade Three winner over hurdles last season and placed at the highest level at the Punchestown Festival in the spring, Paul Fahey’s charge was the 5-2 favourite for his third chasing start. With Paul Townend in the plate for the first time, Lots Of Memories jumped well, but had Jarry D’Honneur and Fine Rightly for company at the second-last. Lots Of Memories got off the mark over fences with a dominant display in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Navan. The latter threatened to make a real race of it for a moment, but Lots Of Memories powered away on the run to the final fence and galloped 11 lengths clear. Champagne James stayed on for third. Fahey said: “This was two miles and four furlongs at the original stage (in the racing programme) but I missed the text when it was changed back to two miles and one. “We said we’d let him take his chance as if we wanted to run at Christmas he needed a prep run. He’s in the Topaz (Grade One, Leopardstown) over three miles, and he’s not done anything to suggest we shouldn’t go there. “Paul said he was on his head a bit but his jumping carried him through, and he said he got away with the trip, but back up in class he won’t.” Jerry Cosgrave’s stable star Mount Colah cruised to victory in the Foxrock Handicap Chase under Noel McParlan. Placed in the Poplar Square Chase on his seasonal reappearance before another good effort over hurdles at Thurles, the consistent eight-year-old was a 9-1 shot on his return to handicap company. Mount Colah travelled within himself throughout and was the only horse still on the bridle at the top of the home straight. Fever Pitch and Aupcharlie both gave generously under pressure, but Mount Colah was well in command jumping the final fence and safely negotiated the obstacle to cement his 11-length success. Fever Pitch beat Aupcharlie to the runner-up spot, while favourite Abbey Lane was disappointing, eventually pulling up. McParlan said: “He’s a smashing little horse, and the best I’ve ridden. We’ve been trying to get him to settle and the hood has helped this season. That’s as good as he’s ever felt.” Press Association
Former Leicester striker Gary Lineker, now host of BBC show Match of the Day, saw the early reports and thought Pearson was on his way out. Lineker wrote on Twitter: “Not overly surprised that Nigel Pearson has been fired by Leicester, given they’re bottom, but he’s been a very good manager of the club. “Not sure if yesterday’s bizarre touchline behaviour had anything to do with Pearson’s exit, but certainly shows how the job gets to ’em all.” However forecasts of Pearson’s demise proved inaccurate, and on he continues in his job. Pearson began his second spell as Leicester manager in November 2011, less than 18 months after departing for Hull. His side amassed 102 points last season as they dominated the Championship, but the step up to the top flight has been difficult. A stirring 5-3 home win over Manchester United in September augured well for their prospects, but it was followed by a distinctly lean spell and Leicester’s next victory did not arrive until Pearson’s charges faced his old side Hull on December 28. A draw against Liverpool and win over Aston Villa followed, but successive defeats by Stoke, Manchester United and Palace cast new doubt over their survival chances. Leicester presently stand four points adrift of 17th-placed Burnley, the last team in a safe position. Pearson is due to hold a routine press conference on Monday afternoon ahead of the Emirates Stadium match. Pearson, speaking before the conjecture over his future began, stressed he has every confidence he is going about his job the right way. “My job and the way I operate is exactly the same as last year, and the year before and the year before that,” said Pearson. “I am a part of a process at the football club, and we are trying to turn the club into a competitive Premier League side, which has been going on since I returned to the club just over three years ago. “As far as I’m concerned I am the same person whether we win, lose or draw.” McArthur, meanwhile, has played down what unfolded with Pearson. Pearson launched a critical attack on McArthur’s old club Wigan and former manager Uwe Rosler after failing to sign him last summer as bids of £5million and £7million were rejected. McArthur, who eventually moved to Palace for £7million, said via Sport Lobster: “Situation with me and Nigel Pearson is getting blown out of proportion.” Leicester have denied manager Nigel Pearson has been sacked by the club. Pearson led the Foxes to the Championship title last season, but his team have picked up just 17 points from their opening 24 matches of the current Barclays Premier League campaign and sit at the foot of the table. Following reports of Pearson being dismissed earlier in the day, Leicester issued a statement to say he remained in charge. Press Association The statement, published on the club’s official website, read: ” Leicester City Football Club would like to clarify its position relative to its manager, Nigel Pearson. “Contrary to media speculation on Sunday evening, Nigel remains the club’s first team manager. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate and without foundation. “Nigel, his staff and the first team squad are entirely focused on Tuesday night’s trip to Arsenal and our continued efforts to secure our position in the Barclays Premier League.” For several hours on Sunday, Pearson’s future at the club looked to be in doubt, but Leicester’s late-night statement put a halt to talk that he had left. The 51-year-old former Southampton and Hull boss was involved in a bizarre incident in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace. He was knocked over on the touchline by Palace midfielder James McArthur after a tackle by Marc Albrighton, resulting in what was initially a friendly exchange between the Foxes boss and Scottish player. Pearson even playfully grabbed McArthur around the throat before helping him to his feet, only to then prevent him from returning to the pitch by grabbing hold of his shirt. That may not have reflected well on Pearson, but there is a lot of goodwill at the club for the man who brought them back to the top flight.
Louis van Gaal set his sights on catching Manchester City after watching his team rip Tottenham apart with their best display of the season. “The performance was very good against a very good team so I am very pleased. “We played like a team and that is nice to see after a defeat to Arsenal (on Monday) “It’s a massively important game after a defeat against a competitor so I am very pleased with the players. “We have to go step by step and the next game is Liverpool. “Manchester United has not won too often the games in Liverpool.” Fellaini drove a low ball past Hugo Lloris to open the scoring and Carrick nodded in a second before Rooney rounded off the win in the 34th minute following a mistake by Nabil Bentaleb. Van Gaal thinks United are finally starting to tick after months of tinkering with selection and tactics. He said: “The first system was I played with three defenders, the second system was this. I played it against Man City, Chelsea and a third one. But we didn’t do this what we have done today. “It is a matter of time and process. Maybe now is the game that gives us a fantastic boost.” Spurs came into the match on the back of successive victories, but they were unable to muster any kind of challenge on Sunday. When asked whether it was Tottenham’s worst performance of the season, head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: “Maybe, yes.” “We made a lot of mistakes. We never find the way we need to play and damage Manchester United. “I think we made a lot of mistakes. This was the key.” Spurs were being tipped to sneak into the Champions League places, but now they are six points adrift and Pochettino is a concerned man. “I am worried about our performance,” the Argentinian said. “You can lose here, but our performance was poor. “We need to try and analyse and fix that. “I think a lot of times today we showed a very poor performance. “I don’t remember when was the last time we had a similar performance. We are all disappointed, not only me, all the team.” For eight months Van Gaal has been promising Manchester United fans everything would soon start to click into place and it finally did on Sunday as United beat Spurs 3-0. Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney found the net in a rampant first half display that had all the hallmarks of the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford. United played with speed, width, aggression and destruction to record a win that puts them within two points of second-placed City, who lead Arsenal by one point. After losing at Burnley on Saturday, City have fallen further behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini’s men are now in Van Gaal’s sights. When asked whether City had been dragged into the “rat race” – a term Van Gaal uses to describe the fight for the top four – the United boss said: “Of course, because Arsenal is one point behind and we are two points behind. “It is good for us and the fans and the media because you can write a lot of things down. “We have to go step by step. It is a rat race and we are now two points from the second position.” Van Gaal thinks the title is as good as gone. “It is too far away,” he said, mindful of the fact that United are eight points behind Chelsea having played one more game. But the United boss hopes the win over Spurs will inject confidence into his team, who have put in a series of unimaginative performances this season, much to the disappointment of their fans. “We have waited a long time for such a victory,” said Van Gaal, who faces Liverpool, Aston Villa, City, and Chelsea in the coming weeks. Press Association
The findings are something of an embarrassment for Hull, whose manager Steve Bruce criticised the Leicester players for their conduct during the nervy 0-0 draw. He was unimpressed by what he perceived to be attempts to persuade Moss to penalise his son. ” I s aw everyone surround Alex (asking) for a red card for his challenge,” he said in the post-match press conference. ”The reason we enjoy the Premier League is its honesty and integrity and if we’re going to go down the route of every other league – jumping around and whingeing and trying to get people yellow and red cards – for me that’s not right.” Hull were handed six bookings in the match, two of which led to Tom Huddlestone’s sending-off. Foxes boss Nigel Pearson tersely described Bruce’s version as “not a fair assessment” and the FA’s independent regulatory commission were in agreement, attributing blame to the Hull contingent. Their statement read: “Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, Hull City have been fined £30,000 after an FA player misconduct charge brought against the club was found proven. “It was alleged that in or around the 68th minute of the game against Leicester City on 14 March 2015, Hull failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. “The club denied the charge which was found proven by the Regulatory Commission.” Hull have been fined £30,000 by the Football Association for failing to control their players against Leicester on March 14, the governing body has announced. City initially denied the charge but were on Friday found guilty of ” failing to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion”. The incident was brought about by the reaction of a number of Hull players after Alex Bruce was booked by referee Jon Moss following a tackle on Riyad Mahrez. Press Association
Aidan O’Brien would like to run dual 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville next weekend. The three-year-old was a late defector from the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood as the ground was not deemed fast enough and any rain in the lead up to the race would see him staying at home. The Galileo colt holds an entry in the 10-furlong Juddmonte International at York but he has not yet raced over anything further than a mile. “We are looking at Deauville (Prix Jacques le Marois) and will be watching the weather forecast this week. If they don’t get rain we will look hard at going there,” said O’Brien. “He was ready to run in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and is in good form.” Press Association
Juve chief executive Giuseppe Marotta was quoted over the weekend saying the Champions League finalists were hopeful of landing the Colombia international on loan. The Turin club have now further declared their interest by releasing a brief clip of the 27-year-old apparently being mobbed by fans on arrival at Malpensa Airport in northern Italy. An accompanying tweet translated as: “Has come! He quickly found an extraordinary welcome ! #WelcomeCuadrado.” Cuadrado, one of Colombia’s star players at last year’s World Cup, has failed to make an impact at Stamford Bridge since moving from Fiorentina for an initial £23.3million in February. He signed a four-and-a-half year contract at Chelsea but it seems the club are already willing to allow him to play elsewhere. Juventus appear to be moving closer to the expected signing of Chelsea’s Juan Cuadrado after releasing pictures of the winger being welcomed in Italy. Press Association
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell wants it to be a case of business as usual when he makes his Dublin farewell as a Test match player on Saturday. O’Connell is guaranteed a rapturous Aviva Stadium send-off, whatever the result, but he has no intention of being distracted. “There seems to be a lot of final everythings for me lately!” he said, speaking at a press conference in Dublin on Friday. “It is my first start (of the summer), and it’s more where I am going to be in terms of my playing and my fitness is where my mind is at the moment. “I have had a good pre-season, but it has been two-and-a-half months since I started a game, so I am just eager to get out and see where I am and put in a good performance. “That side of it (Dublin farewell) hasn’t been big for me this week. “I was disappointed with some of the things I did in the Scotland game (two weeks ago), and I am eager to correct those. It’s about the game, and getting it right.” Reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Ireland have been tipped by many to reach at least the World Cup semi-finals – they have never previously progressed beyond the last eight – and they go into the Wales encounter after beating them in Cardiff earlier this month, before toppling Scotland last time out. England at Twickenham next Saturday will complete Ireland’s competitive World Cup preparation, and then it will be down to business and qualification from a World Cup pool that also features France, Italy, Canada and Romania. O’Connell will bow out of Test rugby after the forthcoming World Cup campaign in England and Wales following a stellar international career that has so far harvested 102 Ireland caps, while he also went on three British and Irish Lions tours. Wales, the country that O’Connell made his Test debut against on home soil 13 years ago, are fittingly the opposition this weekend in what is a last warm-up game for both countries ahead of Ireland boss Joe Schmidt and Wales head coach Warren Gatland announcing their World Cup squads next week. “We are all about preparation and how we train, and training at a certain level and intensity,” O’Connell, 35, added. “You regret a mistake in training almost as much as you regret a mistake in a match, and that’s a great place to be when you are trying to prepare really well for big games. “The way we prepare, we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We just put the emphasis on what is right in front of us. “There are certainly things we would like to do a little bit better from the Scotland game. One of our big things is trying to improve from championship to championship and game to game, and we probably took a step back in some of the things we did in the Scotland game. “We are staying very focused on the short-term, taking these matches really seriously and not looking too far beyond them. It works for us, and we will stick to it. Once the final whistle has sounded on Saturday, though, O’Connell should expect an emotional exit. “It has been a very enjoyable experience playing in Ireland and playing in Dublin at the Aviva in Lansdowne Road. It’s every kid’s dream,” he said. “It has always been a dream of everyone to play for their country, so to play in the Aviva and in Lansdowne Road as many times as I have, and had as many great days as I have, has been brilliant.” Press Association
Alan Pardew singled out Yohan Cabaye for praise after his midfield masterclass guided Crystal Palace to a 2-0 victory over West Brom. Press Association “It was his father’s funeral on Thursday so we didn’t see him,” Pardew said. “I like to think, like when I lost my father, maybe he was looking down on him today so it was a nice moment for Yannick. He has dedicated the goal to his father so it was a nice moment all round. It will be a big boost for him because he wants to score goals.” The victory continued Palace’s impressive start to the campaign and Pardew drew comparisons to some of his more successful times at Newcastle. “The last time we (Palace) had 15 points in the Premier League, we were eating our Christmas dinner and (now) we’ve got it on October 2, so we’ve got ourselves in a great position,” he. “You have periods of form and how long we can keep that we’ll have to wait and see, but I can compare this season to the team I had twice at Newcastle and this is a team that can be as good as that team.” West Brom boss Tony Pulis had a short and successful spell as manager of Palace and won on his first return here last season. But the Welshman was at a loss to explain why the same team he had named in their last away game, a 1-0 win over rivals Aston Villa, had fallen well short of expectations here. “When you pick the same team, I came here with high hopes,” he said. “When Jonny Evans was fit and Gareth McAuley was fit and you’re putting that back four together again – you get that performance and it is chalk and cheese, it is really disappointing. I don’t know if it is confidence or whatever, but you have got to sort it out.” Former Manchester United defender Evans hobbled off after less than half an hour with a hamstring issue, while an ankle knock for James Morrison further depleted Pulis’ options. Both will be hoping to be fit for crunch international fixtures for Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively and Pulis will give them every chance to be involved. When asked if he was concerned by Evans’ injury, he replied: “The concern is obviously for Northern Ireland with the big games they have got. Whether those two (Evans and Morrison) will travel I’m not sure. “The home nations, we want to help them as much as we can so fingers crossed they will be okay, if they are anywhere near it we will give them a chance to play. They will be scanned tomorrow and they will know if they are serious injuries or not.” The France international joined the Eagles in the summer in what was seen as a major coup as he moved from Paris Saint-Germain for a club-record fee. “We approached the game knowing what to expect and we knew we needed to be patient, we played in a controlled manner,” Pardew said. “You need someone like Cabaye to orchestrate that and I thought he was great today in everything he did. “He created the goal at a stage we were starting to worry on the bench and potentially looking for changes. “I know his character and he knew he wasn’t going to be accepting what was happening at PSG, he wasn’t getting a fair opportunity and he needed someone to trust. “He wants to play for his national side at the Euros. I hope everyone in France was watching him today because he was excellent.” Pardew believes Cabaye, should he maintain such form, would make the France squad for next summer’s European Championships in his home country, but there was more to this win than just his performance. Bolasie looked back to his best and capped a superb display with his first Premier League goal at Selhurst Park on what has been an emotional week for the Congo international. With the Baggies having not conceded a goal away from home in the Premier League this season ahead of their trip to Selhurst Park, Palace had to be patient in their attempt to break through a stubborn defence. But Cabaye, who also played under Pardew at Newcastle, held the key as he crossed for Yannick Bolasie to head home before converting his second penalty in six days.
Manchester United forward Memphis Depay has been involved in a spat with former Red Devils striker Robin van Persie during a Holland training session. “Then you talk about it. That’s what happened and then it’s over.” Blind, whose son is Depay’s United team-mate Daley Blind, also stressed the episode had had no role in his decision to leave Van Persie out of his starting XI for the Kazakhstan game. Van Persie – his country’s all-time top-scorer with 49 goals in what is now 100 caps following his late substitute appearance on Saturday – left United to join Fenerbahce in July, a month after Depay’s arrival at Old Trafford from PSV Eindhoven. Press Association Following reports of a bust-up occurring between the pair prior to Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan, Dutch national team boss Danny Blind on Monday confirmed there had been an incident but was keen to play it down. Blind, quoted by www.telegraaf.nl, said: “There are sometimes situations in training where players think different.
Asked about his pride should his team complete the job, O’Neill said: “My pride in the side has been there from the start. I think the players have wanted to play. “There was a feeling beforehand that some players just weren’t that bothered about playing for their country – I haven’t witnessed it and I haven’t experienced it in the two years that I’ve been here. “Obviously, it would be terrific if we could do it, but I have to be very, very mindful of the fact that we are a long way away from doing that. “We have to put things into perspective: Bosnia are capable of scoring, they could wipe that advantage, that away goal that we have within minutes of the game, and then suddenly they are on the front foot. “If we think that we can keep them out for 90 minutes and camp ourselves just outside our own penalty area, that would be a recipe for disaster. “We have to consider being really on the front foot, genuinely, and going and trying to win this game, and that’s it. “If you’d thought that we’d have to win in the Aviva for the final time, you probably would have taken that.” O’Neill will go into the game with Jonathan Walters available after suspension. John O’Shea, who was also banned for the first leg, and Shane Long trained in Abbotstown on Sunday morning as they continue their respective recoveries from hamstring and foot injuries. Martin O’Neill has warned the Republic of Ireland that relying on their away goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina to secure a ticket to the Euro 2016 finals would be “a recipe for disaster”. Press Association For the likes of 34-year-old O’Shea and skipper Robbie Keane, who is a year older, it could prove to be their final appearance in an Ireland shirt if they do not make the finals, but there will be no room for sentiment in the manager’s team selection. O’Neill said: “That’s called tough luck, just tough luck. I’m not going to put players in because it might be their last international game. “I’ll put them in hopefully on merit and hopefully the experience that they have garnered over the last 10 or 12 or 15 years could stand us in a bit of decent stead. That would be the reason. “I think the motivation is there. If we are beaten here, it won’t be through lack of trying. We might lack a few things in our side, but a bit of strength of character I think is there.” Long, who has not played any football since limping off in Poland on October 11, could prove vital with Daryl Murphy, who started in Zenica, sitting out training on Sunday with a calf injury, although O’Neill confirmed that was purely precautionary. However, the Ireland boss will have to come up with a team which strikes the right balance between potency in attack and solidity at the back with right-winger Edin Visca a particular focus following his eye-catching display at the Bilino Polje Stadium. He said: “They raid down the right-hand side because they’ve got a very, very fine right winger. What they want to do is try to get it out to the little lad, who is exceptionally talented. “I think he could cause problems to anybody.” The Republic returned from Zenica on Friday night with a 1-1 draw having come within three minutes of a victory which might have made their task in the second leg at the Aviva Stadium on Monday slightly more straightforward. They nevertheless enjoy a marginal advantage having scored in Bosnia, although their 63-year-old manager has insisted they cannot afford to play for the 0-0 draw which would guarantee a trip to France along with England, Northern Ireland and Wales next summer.