Football: Corkery's unlucky break for Ireland

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The Independent Online
The luck of the Irish? Don't mention it to David Corkery, the red-blooded blind-side flanker who slipped his challenge for a place on this summer's Lions tour of South Africa into overdrive with an uncompromisingly effective display in his country's victory over Wales at the weekend.

Although Corkery completed the match in Cardiff, it soon transpired that he did so with a broken bone in his right hand. He is doubtful for the match with England in Dublin on Saturday week - he expects a definitive opinion from his specialist tomorrow - and may also miss the date with Scotland at Murrayfield on 1 March.

The Bristol forward was so focused on the rough and tumble with the Welsh that he remained unaware of any problem until, by chance, he looked at his hand and realised that the ring finger was at 90 degrees to the rest of it.

"I thought at first that it was a bad dislocation, so I pulled the finger back into shape myself," said the 24-year-old fitness instructor from Cork yesterday. "I did that to make sure of staying on the field - I had no intention of going off - but as it turned out, I did the right thing from a medical point of view. I've been told that by acting immediately, I minimised the damage. I'd like to think I was 50-50 for the England game, but I suspect I'll be very fortunate to make it."

Ireland will curse their misfortune if their outstanding big-hit tackler is forced to withdraw, but they have room to manoeuvre. They could recall Eddie Halvey or Anthony Foley, or gamble on a debut for Kieran Dawson, the London Irish short-side specialist.

A still more attractive option might be to relocate Eric Miller from No 8 to No 6, thus creating space for Paddy Johns to shift from second row to back row with Gabriel Fulcher restored in the engine room. But Johns is playing the best rugby of his life at lock and with Miller in equally inspirational form, the selectors might prefer to leave well alone. The Irish announce their side on Sunday.

n Thomas Castaignede will miss France's Five Nations' match with Wales in Paris on Saturday week because of a broken jaw. The centre may also be absent for the game against England at Twickenham on 1 March. He was replaced in the squad by Bourgoin's Laurent Leflamand.