Sunday 26 February 2017

F1: Hamilton off pace in China

Lewis Ham-ilton felt he should have taken pole for today's Chinese Grand Prix as the 2008 champion was left baffled by his lack of pace in the final phase of qualifying.

The McLaren driver had looked quick all weekend and dominated the first two qualifying rounds but struggled for pace in the last segment as he finished half-a-second slower than pole winner Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton lines up sixth on the grid and though that is a marked improvement on his last two qualifying sessions, he was still disappointed with the end result.

"I don't know what to say," he said. "We had done such a good job and were quickest in Q1 and Q2 but in Q3 the car just didn't feel fantastic."

Jenson Button secured fifth place on the grid to out-qualify Hamilton for the third time this season.

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CYCLING: Philip Deignan and Nicholas Roche had to make alternative travel arrangements to get to the start line for yesterday's Amstel Gold Race.

The fall-out from the Icelandic volcano has left teams scrambling to find alternative means of transport so riders can reach Maastricht. "This is force majeure. Nothing can be done against this," race director Leo van Vliet said yesterday.

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HOCKEY: Pembroke Wanderers made up for their double defeat by Corinthian in the Leinster league, with an emphatic 3-0 win in yesterday's Irish League 4th round tie and booked their place in next month's semi-finals.

An early goal from Alan Sothern set Pembroke on their way, with Gordon Elliott and Andy McConnell completing the tally to move top of Pool A.

In the other Pool A match Monkstown beat Banbridge 4-3 but the losers kept their interest of a semi-final spot alive by picking up the bonus point though Corinthian are still favourites to make the last four. Pool B saw Glenanne share top spot with Lisnagarvey after beating them 3-2 at Tallaght yesterday. Meanwhile, Cork C of I and Cookstown failed to make real progress at Garryduff, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw.

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handball: Defending champions and No 1 seeds Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann (both Ballaghaderreen), just edged Seamus O' Carroll (Cappagh) and CJ Fitzpatrick (Broadford) in a hardfought GAA/O'Neill's All-Ireland (40X20) Men's Open Senior Doubles semi-final clash at Moycullen, Co Galway, yesterday.

Keegan and McCann lost the first game on a scoreline of 13-21, but took the second game, on a scoreline of 21-16. In the third game, the Mayomen hit their stride to prevail 21-5 and book their place in this year's final.

In the second semi-final, at Abbeylara, Co Longford, Cavan stars and five-times winners, Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan (both Kingscourt), defeated Meath aces, Tom Sheridan and Brian Carroll (both Kells) over two games 21-14, 21-15.

Meanwhile, legendary Kilkenny handballer, Michael 'Ducksy' Walsh (Talbot's Inch), bagged the Masters 'A' Singles (40+) crown of this year's championships, defeating Cork's Stephen Palmer (Mallow), in the final at Dolla, Silvermines, Co Tipperary, on a scoreline of 21-4, 21-6.

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CRICKET: Ireland must beat at least one of two Test-playing teams if they are to reach the second stage of a top-tier International Cricket Council tournament for the third time in successive attempts.

England and ICC World Twenty20 hosts West Indies have their vulnerabilities, but neither has the look of a soft touch for the Irish in Guyana.

Ireland fell short last nightin their clash with a West Indies XI at Sabina Park. The Irish managed 153 runs in their 20 overs, but couldn't reach the West Indies' target and were eventually beaten by 18 runs at the home of Kingston Cricket Club.

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RUGBY UNION: Young Munster captured their sixth ODM Munster Senior Cup title at Musgrave Park with a des-erved 13-22 victory over UCC.

The students led 10-9 at half-time with Andrew Burke scoring a try, conversion and penalty. Alan Kingsley's kicking kept the Limerick side in the contest and a try by skipper Ger Slattery which Kingsley converted seven minutes from time secured their first Senior Cup in 20 years.

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TENNIS: James McGee suffered doubles final defeat in the ITF Men's Futures event in Angers, France.

The Dubliner, 22, and France's Olivier Charroin came up short against French duo Charles-Antoine Brezac and Vincent Stouff 4-6 1-6 in the indoor clay-court tournament.

McGee and Charroin were the No 2 seeds compared to a No 4 seeding spot for their opponents, and the respective doubles world-ranking positions were 722 and 751.

But Brezac and Stouff had underlined their qualities by dumping out Kamil Capkovic of Slovakia and Romania's Marius Copil 7-5 3-6 10-8 in their semi-final and easily outplayed McGee and Charroin.

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ATHLETICS: Irish Olympic distance runner Martin Fagan managed to beat the volcanic ash and get a flight from New York to meet his commitment for today's Great Ireland Run 10km road race in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

On Thursday, Fagan -- who is attempting to become the first Irish athlete to win the men's event -- had travelled from his training base in Arizona but was then stranded in New York for 36 hours before getting a flight that had him in Dublin by yesterday.

Fagan's arrival came as a great relief to the race organisers, particularly as Irish cross-country champion Mark Kenneally would be a non-starter as he is preparing for a big 10,000m on the track in California in two weeks.

And so while the head-to- head between Fagan and Kenneally is no more there is still enough top runners in the field to make it an interesting race.

Sunday Independent

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