Sports News in Brief: Whoever said the Irish aren’t lucky?

In other news, the Danes will be willing Wozniacki and their handball team to have the rub of the green over the next four days

Somebody call the Irish pub landlords down from the rooftops. But then again, you can understand why they’re celebrating, as they’ve only gone and won the lottery … again.

Another St Patrick’s Day beckons
When the Republic of Ireland visited in November for the 2018 World Cup playoff, most pubs sold a St Patrick’s Day’s amount of booze during the build-up and aftermath.

And today they have learned the Irish will be visiting again – this time next autumn to play Denmark in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Denmark has also been drawn in the same group as Wales, and the three teams will play each other home and away over a ten-week period, with the winner getting promoted to the top tier and the bottom team getting relegation to tier three.

Shorter qualifying periods for major tournaments
The four top tier group winners qualify for a finals in the following June, with the winner qualifying directly for Euro 2020.

As a result of the new tournament, the qualifying period for major tournaments will be shorter. Qualifying for Euro 2020 will take place in just eight months from March to November 2019. Previously it would have lasted 14 months.

Elsewhere, Sweden landed Sweden and Russia, also in tier two, while the group of death is without a doubt the top tier pairing of Netherlands, France and Germany.

Denmark reaches handball semis with game to spare
Denmark has reached the semi-finals of Euro 2018 in handball, and they’ve done so before their final secondary group stage game. Denmark are through because their two nearest competitors, Spain and Macedonia, were both surprisingly beaten by upstarts Slovenia and Czech Republic. Denmark still face Macedonia in their final group II match and need to at least draw to be assured of winning their group. It’s all up for grabs in Group I, meanwhile, with France, Sweden and hosts Croatia  vying for two semi-final spots. It’s so tight in Group I that there is a distinct possibility that Sweden and Croatia will have to flip a coin to see who progresses.

Wozniacki two games from immortality
Denmark will wake up on Thursday to the news of whether Caroline Wozniacki has made it through to the final of the Australian Open. Her opponent, Elise Mertens from Belgium, may be the world number 36 but she has yet to drop a set so far, accounting for the number four seed Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals. In fact, following a tournament win in Hobart, she is undefeated this year. Wozniacki is in the second match scheduled to take place in the Rod Laver Arena, with proceedings due to start at 01:00 with a mixed doubles match, which is unlikely to last more than two hours. So set your clock for 03:00 if you want to watch the game live on Eurosport.

Second round of ice hockey tickets starts next week
Single game ticket sales for the IIHF 2018 World Championship, which will be co-hosted by the Danish venues of Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning and the Royal Arena in Copenhagen from May 4-20, go on sales on February 2 at 10:00 at Already there has been high interest in the specific team packages among fans of the 16 competing nations, which have been on sale since September 1.

Nissen snapped up by Ajax
From Søren Lerby and Michael Laudrup, to Michael Krohn-Dehli and Kasper Dolberg, the Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam have long had a penchant for Danish players. Now there’s more Danish heading to Amsterdam as the Dutch side has forked out an estimated 40 million kroner for FC Midtjylland’s young right back Rasmus Nissen. The 20-year-old, who is seen as the future right back of Denmark, is already a seasoned player in Denmark, having played over 80 games for the Wolves. Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund starlet Jacob Bruun Larsen has been loaned out to fellow Bundesliga side Stuttgart for the rest of the season. The 19-year-old winger/striker, who has scored loads of goals for Dortmund’s youth side, is going on loan to experience some playing time in the Bundesliga. Larsen already has five caps for the Danish under-21 side and is seen as one of the biggest Danish talents.

Thor now with fourth NFL club
Andreas ‘Thor’ Knappe is now training with the Denver Broncos – his fourth NFL club as he continues with his bid to become the first Dane since Morten Andersen to play pro ball in the States. First he failed with the Washington Redskins, and then then Atlanta Falcons, and most recently the Indianapolis Colts. As a practice squad player the 26-year-old offensive tackle can only be signed by another NFL team if that team adds the player to their 53-man active roster.