Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Northern Ireland's aging stars should learn from Aaron Hughes' example, urges O'Neill 

Michael O'Neill wants his veteran players to learn from Aaron Hughes' experience of international retirement. The Hearts centre-back called time on his Northern Ireland career seven years ago after 79 international appearances. Fast forward a reversal of that decision and Hughes has topped the tonne of games for NI. The older members of O'Neill's current squad, such as Gareth McAuley (38), Chris Brunt (33) and captain Steven Davis (33), maintain a significant influence over the team. It's little surprise then, that the manager sought their thoughts on their futures before committing his own to the IFA with a bumper six-year deal.

Watch: My Northern Irish fans carried me to Masters win, says Mark Allen 

Mark Allen says the Northern Irish supporters gave him the edge to win the 2018 Dafabet Masters. It's the 31-year-old's first Triple Crown title and one that has caught the imagination of his fans. A large crowd turned up at the Belfast International Airport to welcome the star home on Monday afternoon and once he touched down back on Northern Irish soil, it was those supporters that were at the forefront of Allen's mind. "It means everything to me. I appreciate the support I've always had," he said. "They're the noisiest fans you could ever wish to meet and that spurs me on when I'm out there. "You feel like when you're struggling at times, that's the extra few per cent you need. They definitely carried me over the line last night."

Watch: Your BBC Sports Personality of the Year votes would mean so much to me, says Jonathan Rea 

Triple World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has called on Northern Ireland to get behind him during Sunday evening's BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. The Ballyclare man is now third favourite to win the top accolade and make it a trophy-laden weekend, adding to his International Recognition award from the Mary Peters Trust at a star-studded Legends Lunch yesterday, co-hosted by the Trust and Sports Changes Life charity. But if Rea is to pip odds-on favourite, boxer Anthony Joshua, and F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton at the Liverpool Echo Arena, he needs your backing. The winner will be decided by public vote during Sunday evening's live show between 6.45pm and 9pm. Voting will take place either by phone or online.

Watch: I want to be King of the Jungle, says world champion boxer Ryan Burnett 

Ryan Burnett has two big targets as he looks ahead: to remain as World champion and to claim a second sought-after crown. The Belfast boxer says he's itching to get into the jungle on ITV's hit-show I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Watching fellow boxing star Amir Khan in action Down Under has given Burnett a taste for it. And now he's determined to prove he can become the King of the Jungle. "I would love it," he smiled. "I think it's an amazing thing. I would love to go and eat camel ass and things like that. I think it's right up my street. I'd love to give it a go. I think I'd be able to smash any task they put in front of me. I could be King of the Jungle definitely."

Watch: Why Ulster are going in the right direction, explains Rory Best 

Ulster captain Rory Best has assured supporters that his team are moving in the right direction. The fear amongst supporters was that the trajectory of Ulster performances was going in the opposite way after recent less than impressive displays in the wins over Southern Kings and Benetton followed by last weekend's collapse to a draw with Dragons. Best will miss Ulster's trip to take on Harlequins in the Champions Cup on Sunday with a foot infection, although international trio Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale and Robb Herring all return to start.

Watch: Joe McCready is out to seal a permanent starting spot for league-leading Coleraine 

Coleraine forward Joe McCready is out to prove he's worthy of a starting spot - and not just when injury strikes. The 27 year-old has deputised for the injured Eoin Bradley in the last two outings and netted his first Premiership goal for the club on Saturday, a second half winner to sneak past Cliftonville 2-1. As he admits himself, it wasn't the most stunning of goals but a few more just like that and Bradley's place in the line-up could be under threat, even when the ex-Glenavon man returns from his knee ligament injury that is expected to sideline him for around two months. "It was just a ricochet and I was in the right place at the right time," said McCready, reflecting on his Solitude strike. "Jamie (McGonigle) was hustling the centre-half and I was there to tap it in with a toe-poke. I'll take those every week. "We're struggling injury-wise," he continued. "It's been a strange one. We're down to the bare bones at the minute but Oran (Kearney - manager) keeps pumping it into us that we've a squad there for a reason. Everybody's fighting for a jersey - as soon as they come on they have a chance to keep it. That's what I'm trying to do now myself as well."

Watch: I can't wait to be part of 'buzzing' Windsor roar against Germany, says Jonathan Rea 

The three-time world superbike champion is sure to get a top reception from the GAWA just five days after he secure his latest crown. But it's the match itself that he's most looking forward to. "Without anything going on from my side, it's just going to be so cool to be in the stadium for such a big game," he said. "I know that a lot of motorcycle fans are going to be there because they love football; there's a big crossover. "Last night I was speaking to Michael  (O'Neill) and some of the players in the hotel and the atmosphere is good. It would be really nice to scalp a point of we could. Who knows? The atmosphere will be buzzing." So what if Northern Ireland were to topple their opponents - could it match his title victory? "It wouldn't come close but it would be nice," he laughed. "The atmosphere would be better because you're in a small space with thousands of people but nothing can replace the feeling I had crossing the line, one wheel in the air knowing I was world champion - not even Northern Ireland beating Germany at Windsor Park."

Ulster Rugby Round-Up podcast E3: The aeroplane made them drop the ball - honest! 

With the third offering of our Ulster Rugby Round-Up podcast, Gareth Hanna once again picks the brains of rugby reporters Jonathan Bradley and Adam McKendry. They discuss the catastrophic defeat to Zebre - taking absolutely no responsibility for unintentional scuddery. Also on the agenda is a preview of the first interpro of the season, Les Kiss' contract and a look at the latest All Ireland club action. This week, we hear Kiss' explanation for the great Zebre debacle of 2017 and Connacht's John Muldoon explores his side's abysmal record in Belfast. As usual, the guys also answer some of your questions. Do you have any you would like discussed in the next edition? Let us know via the Belfast Telegraph Sport Facebook page or @BelTel_Sport on Twitter. We are endeavouring to have the podcast available for download ASAP but the busyness of the greater sporting world is making time for that difficult as yet.

Watch: Jonathan Rea explains why he could have a chance of winning BBC SPOTY 

Jonathan Rea isn't normally one for a flutter but he might make an exception after his third successive World Superbikes title. He didn't make the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year in either 2015 or 2016, despite grabbing the world crown. So will the judges include him this time round, now that he's bagged his third successive title? We asked Betfair what the chances are. They rate him at 5/1 to be nominated and a long-shot at 200/1 to win the title. Rea? We'll he thinks it's worth a small punt.

Ulster Rugby Round-Up: A tour of the City of Love 

As we continue to hone our fledgling Ulster Rugby Round-Up podcast, Gareth Hanna once again picks the brains of rugby reporters Jonathan Bradley and Adam McKendry. They discuss the 'slaying of the Dragons' (quote taken from every report written about the game), how Banbridge helped Nick Timoney and wonder if lightning can strike twice at Zebre. We also hear Les Kiss reviewing Rodney Ah You's performance. In the club section, Malone captain Ross Todd explains his side's bright start to the season and the lads tip Rainey to enjoy Ulster derby success this weekend. Any questions or feedback? Let us know via the Belfast Telegraph Sport Facebook page or @BelTel_Sport on Twitter.

Wayne Rooney takes part in Everton training following nasty cut 

Wayne Rooney looked to have been healing well as he took part in Everton's training session on Wednesday morning ahead of their Europa League Group E clash with Apollon Limassol. Rooney was left with a cut above his left eye and a bloodied face after being caught by the arm of Simon Francis in an aerial challenge during Saturday's 2-1 victory over Bournemouth. But there were no major signs of damage on the former England captain, who came off just after half-time in that game, as he trained in front of the media on Wednesday.

Video: Brendan Rodgers: Celtic played like under-12s against PSG 

Boss Brendan Rodgers claimed his Celtic side played like under-12s at times in their 5-0 thumping by Paris St Germain at Parkhead. The world's most expensive frontline did the damage in the first half of their Champions League Group B opener as Brazilian star Neymar opened the scoring in the 19th minute, 18-year-old French sensation Kylian Mbappe added a second in the 34th minute before Edinson Cavani netted with a penalty before the break.


From Belfast Telegraph