Thursday 21 September 2017

In Brief: Martin extends Catalonia lead

Cycling: Dan Martin increased his overall lead after yesterday's 178.7km Stage 6 of the Tour of Catalonia from Almacelles to Valls.

A well-timed final acceleration netted Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) the stage victory in the small group bunch sprint but Martin (Garmin-Sharp) finished safely in the front group and snatched a three-second mid-stage time bonus at kilometre 30's hot-spot sprint. He now leads 2010 winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by 17 seconds with Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins fourth overall and 54 seconds adrift.

Today's final stage over 122kms has a notoriously tricky finishing circuit of Montjuic in Catalonia's capital, Barcelona. With eight laps of the circuit for the peloton, time bonuses on offer and the first four riders overall with less than a minute between them, a spectacular finale is all but guaranteed.

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Hockey: Today's line-up for the men's and women's Irish Senior Cup finals at Belfield pits Monkstown against Pembroke Wanderers in the men's and Railway Union v UCD in the women's.

Yesterday's men's semi-finals required extra-time to decide both outcomes, with a silver goal winning it for Monkstown, and penalty-strokes for Pembroke.Three Rock led 3-1 at half time with goals from Michael Maguire, Gavin Bourke and Jody Hosking as they sought to avenge last Sunday's Mills Cup final defeat by Monkstown. But it was Monkstown's turn to show their real form after the break, hitting back with a brace from Andy Ewington, forcing a silver-goal finale, with Ewington finally clinching it with a drag flick winner.

Pembroke's passage was an even closer affair before finally emerging triumphant 5-4 in a penalty shootout against Banbridge, who had held a 2-0 interval lead through Simon Magowan and Bruce McCandless.Pembroke clicked into gear in the final quarter when Alan Sothern and Maurice Elliott got them back on terms.

Women's holders UCD had to battle all the way to beat Ballymoney 4-1 on penalty strokes and will now play Railway Union, easy 5-1 winners over Ards.

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Golf: The Maybank Malaysian Open was reduced to 54 holes after the leaders managed just two holes of their third round before play was suspended for the third day in succession yesterday. Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat has a one-shot lead over Charl Schwartzel going into the final round.

Aphibarnrat, fourth in the Avantha Masters last week, was two clear at the halfway stage after completing the last nine holes of his second round yesterday morning, eight pars and one birdie giving him a 68 and 11-under-par total of 133.

Seven players were a shot behind Schwartzel on nine-under, including Irish pair Pádraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie. Harrington had five birdies in a round of 68 while Lawrie shot a three-under 69.

But one star name missing was that of World No 3 Luke Donald who had earlier missed the first halfway cut of his professional career in a regular European Tour event after adding a 73 to his opening 74.

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Basketball: Some spectacular outside shooting from MVP and captain Shane Coughlan saw Demons bring the curtain down on the Superleague season with a 73-62 win over Vincent's in the Inaugural champion's trophy in Tallaght last night.

Having trailed 32-26 at half time, Demons hit scores from all angles on the resumption, primarily through Kenton Walker and Coughlan, the latter landing his second big basket on the buzzer to hand Demons a 49-39 lead at the end of the third.

And, while Joey McGuirk and Mike Trimmer were to briefly bring Vincent's back into contention, Demons were able to run down the clock with a series of free-throws from the game's top scorer Ciaran O'Sullivan.

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UL Huskies won the Women's Superleague play-off final 78-56 against DCU Mercy for their sixth title in all. MVP Rachel Vanderwal was the big difference between the two, her 17 points in the first half seeing UL ahead 39-26 at the interval. And while Lindsay Peat and Sarah Woods hit two big shots for Mark Ingle's side, UL maintained their lead with Aoife McDermott and Michelle Fahy both prominent.

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Cricket: England have discovered for sure what they insist they suspected all along – that New Zealand are more than a compliant warm-up act for this summer's Ashes.

While Australia continue to struggle in their Test series in India, England have encountered plenty more resistance in New Zealand than many experts thought likely.

After day two of the final Test – a potential decider, with the series score locked at 0-0 – England were off the pace on 50-2 in reply to 443 all out.

Steven Finn equalled his career-best 6-125 to ensure the tourists made much better progress than Friday, taking nine wickets for 193 to follow their one for 250 24 hours earlier. But they then lost Alastair Cook cheaply, and also Jonathan Trott, in 25 overs of batting before stumps.

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A brilliant display of spin bowling from Nathan Lyon dragged Australia back into contention in their fourth and final Test against India in Delhi.

The off-spinner left the field with figures of 5-94 as India closed on 266-8 – a disappointing total after they had bowled Australia out for 262.

At 108 without loss their pursuit of a series whitewash looked a straightforward one but Lyon then ripped through their line-up to change the landscape, leaving them just four runs ahead going into today's third day.

Irish Independent

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