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Martin Clarke: Conor Laverty says Down ‘exploring’ keeper option for former All-Star

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Down’s impressive win over Clare sets up a Division Three Final meeting with Westmeath at Croke Park next Saturday, with the likely prize a place in this year’s Sam Maguire Cup, as opposed to having their summer in the second-tier Tailteann Cup where the Mournemen lost last year’s final against Meath.

“There was a pressure on this game after last weekend but I felt that there was a massive response from our players,” said Laverty of Sunday’s display.

“There are still a lot of permutations for that Sam Maguire [spot].

“The goal at the start of the year was to get out of Division Two and get to a better standard of football and that’s what this Down team want to be playing week in, week out.”

Down drew with Westmeath in Mullingar last weekend and while the Lake County lost in Sligo on Sunday, Clarke says the Division Three decider will represent a “massive game” for the Mourne County.

“We spoke to the boys in the changing rooms that the preparation switches to that straight away and the job isn’t done because the prize of the league title is big this year in terms of putting yourself on the front foot in terms of the Sam Maguire competition.”



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Deontay Wilder: Ex-WBC world champion confident of Anthony Joshua fight

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Former WBC world champion Deontay Wilder tells BBC Sport he is “90%” sure a fight with Anthony Joshua will happen in the future, as he prepares to face Zhilei Zhang on 1 June.

READ MORE: Wilder says Joshua fight will be revived with big win over Zhang



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Taulupe Faletau: Wales number eight set for Cardiff return

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Taulupe Faletau back in training with Cardiff
Taulupe Faletau has played 14 games for Cardiff after joining from Bath in 2022

Cardiff and Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau is set to return to action after a six-month injury lay-off.

Faletau, 33, suffered a broken arm in Wales’ World Cup victory against Georgia in Nantes in October 2023 before missing this year’s Six Nations with a calf injury.

The British and Irish Lions Test star has since returned to Cardiff training.

Faletau is available for the United Rugby Championship (URC) trip to face Ulster on Friday night.

Faletau, who has played 104 times for Wales, returns to action with the summer tour to Australia on the horizon.

Head coach Warren Gatland has lost senior figures in Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, George North, Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb to international retirement in the last 12 months.

In Faletau’s absence, Cardiff back-row duo Alex Mann and Mackenzie Martin have been capped by Wales, while Aaron Wainwright has filled the national number eight role.



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Ross Molony: Leinster locks signs for Bath Rugby on three-year contract from 2024-25

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Ross Molony
Ross Molony has won four league titles and the European Champions Cup with Leinster

Bath have announced the signing of Leinster lock Ross Molony on a three-year contract.

The 29-year-old will join up with the Somerset club ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Molony has made 177 appearances for Leinster and has won four league titles and the European Champions Cup with the Dublin club.

Leinster are currently five points clear at the top of the United Rugby Championship table.

They face Premiership leaders Northampton Saints on Saturday, May 4, for a place in a third Champions Cup final in a row.

“Ross is a true professional and his journey in rugby is a testament to this,” director of rugby Johann van Graan told the club’s website.external-link

“His work ethic and leadership are some of his key characteristics and I believe he will play a huge part in our journey in the next number of years.”

Bath are currently second in the Premiership, five points behind Northampton.



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