Monday 24 April 2017

In brief: O'Brien ton up for Irish T20 assault

Cricket

KEVIN O'BRIEN will win his 100th international cap this morning when Ireland take on Afghanistan in Dubai at the start of a crucial Twenty20 World Cup qualifying campaign, writes David Townsend.

The Railway Union all-rounder has been central to the recent rise of Irish cricket -- no more so than when he calmly guided the national side to a famous three-wicket victory over Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup.

A return to the scene of that Caribbean triumph is on offer at the end of April if Ireland can finish first or second in a group containing the USA and Scotland, then take one of the top two places in a Super Four play-off on Friday and Saturday.

O'Brien showed encouraging signs of hitting top form at the right time with a solid 30 against Canada in Ireland's last warm-up tie on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Dale Steyn produced a incredible spell of 5-3 and career-best figures of 7-51 to send India spiralling from 221-4 to 233 all out in the first Test against South Africa in Nagpur. Following on 325 behind, India were 66-2 at the close of day three.

Athletics

DERVAL O'Rourke leads a preliminary six-strong Irish team announced for the World Indoor T&F Championships in Doha next month.

O'Rourke won the World Indoor 60m hurdle title in 2006 and is one of five Irish women to qualify so far, including Claire Brady after her impressive 7.35 run at National Indoors last weekend.

Kildare 800m runner David McCarthy (Le Cheile), a former finalist at 400m, is the only man on the team so far but two-time European indoor 400m champion David Gillick could yet be included if he shows form before the team is finalised on March 1.

Soccer

The Republic of Ireland U-16s finished bottom of their group in the Albufeira 4 Nations tournament after a disappointing 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands in the Algarve yesterday, writes Jamie Moore.

Holland took the lead just before the half-hour, Kyle Ebecilio's shot from just inside the box was deflected into his own net by Kealan Dillon.

Holland doubled their lead when Jordy Toorenburg smashed a powerful right-foot shot from 30 yards past Irish goalkeeper Joe Coll.

Toorenburg made it 3-0 just after half-time but Ireland got a goal back in the 44th minute, Philip Roberts finished well after a blistering run and cross by Kenneth McEvoy.

Roberts' joy turned to despair shortly afterwards after he was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Portugal won the tournament after beating Italy 3-1 earlier in the day.

Irish Independent

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