Gillen reaches final qualifier
MARTINA GILLEN of Team Ireland Golf was the only Irish player to come through the Ladies European Tour pre-qualifying tournament at La Manga yesterday.
The field for the 72-hole event was divided into two groups, with 35 places available in each for final qualifying, which starts at La Manga on Sunday.
All the players competed alternately on the North and South courses at the Spanish resort.
Gillen comfortably finished joint 15th in Group B on seven-over par -- 18 shots behind England's Hannah Burke.
Burke won the Irish Women's Open Strokeplay Championship in 2010 at Newlands.
The previous year she lost a marathon play-off at the seventh tie-hole to Lisa Maguire at Slieve Russell.
Former Curtis Cup player Danielle McVeigh and PGA professional Marion Riordan finished outside the qualifying places.
McVeigh was tied-54th in Group B on 17-over par, while Riordan finished joint 60th on 18-over par in Group A.
KEVIN O'BRIEN has been named vice-captain of Ireland for the World Twenty20 qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates in March, succeeding 37-year-old Trent Johnston, who is nearing the end of his illustrious career.
"Trent has been a fantastic ambassador for Irish cricket but in terms of future success, I believe now is the best time for a seamless transition," said coach Phil Simmons.
O'Brien was clearly delighted with his promotion. "It's a huge honour for me," the big-hitting all-rounder said.
"I've deputised for Trent and William (Porterfield) over the past two seasons, and I've developed a real feel for the job."
Alastair Cook played a near lone and highly-skilled hand to defy the Pakistan Cricket Board XI's pace and spin on day one of England's final warm-up match at the GCA ground.
Opener Cook was last out for 133 in 269-9 declared on an awkward surface, before the PCB responded with 23-0 in eight overs to stumps.
England had faltered to 14-2 against Mohammad Talha (4-43) with the new ball and then 121-5 against the leg-spin of Yasir Shah (5-75).
But Cook stood firm and mostly batted on a different level to his team-mates.
Among his colleagues, there were ducks for Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Dubliner Eoin Morgan, who registered a third successive failure.