In brief: Botha efforts not enough
IRELAND lost a high-scoring match to Canada by just four runs in Sri Lanka yesterday as coach Phil Simmons juggled his options ahead of next week's Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers.
In the second match of a quadrangular tournament, Simmons gave an outing to back-up bowlers Phil Eaglestone and Gary Kidd but neither staked a claim for a regular start as Canada charged to 176-3.
Andre Botha took all three wickets but in the absence of Alex Cusack and young left-arm spinner George Dockrell, Ireland probably conceded 20 more than they would have liked.
An imposing target of nearly nine an over looked well within the scope of Niall O'Brien, though, as the opener raced to 50 from 34 balls, taking his side halfway to their goal in only nine overs.
The 17th over was to prove pivotal with Gary Wilson, Botha and Trent Johnston all departing for the addition of only three runs.
Ireland play Sri Lanka 'A' today in the final match of the tournament before moving onto Dubai for the qualifiers.
The National Indoor Hockey Championships take place at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght this weekend.
The sole Ulster side to enter, Belfast Harlequins, failed to make the cut for the finals, leaving the Dublin clubs to monopolise.
National coach Paul Revington is a big believer in the indoor game, with its high intensity, high scores and high skill levels.
Pembroke Wanderers, Three Rock Rovers, Clontarf, YMCA, Monkstown, Railway Union, Avoca and Glenanne will contest the spoils.
Meanwhile, Revington sprang no surprises with the announcement of his Ireland squad for the year ahead.
The only wonder is that he has no immediate goalkeeper cover in the event of injury to either David Harte or Iain Walker.
All eyes were focused on Nicolas Roche's debut for the 2010 season yesterday in the five-day Etoile de Besseges in France. But, it was the An Post/Sean Kelly's Belgian team member Niko Eeckhout, who finished second to winner Borut Bozic, who stole all the plaudits.
Roche finished in the main group along with the Irish pair of Conor McConvey and Paidi O'Brien.
DERRY middleweight John Duddy will meet Mexico-born Michael "Murder Man" Medina on the Manny Pacquaio v Joshua Clottey undercard at the Cowboy Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on March 13.