Irish Rio medal hopes boosted equestrian
IRISH chances of a medal in Eventing at the Rio 2016 Olympics got a major boost yesterday when the team of Jonty Evans, Cathal Daniels, Joseph Murphy and Padraig McCarthy trounced the opposition to win the FEI Nations Cup in Boekolo, Holland.
This was the first Irish victory in the series established in 2012, and team manager Nick Turner said afterwards: "The goal of a podium finish at next year's Olympic Games is looking very much in our sights!"
On his debut at CCI 3-Star level, 19-year-old Daniels set the competition alight on Saturday with a superb cross-country run on the eight-year-old Rioghan Rua, the pair producing the first of just four clear rounds inside the optimum time of 10 minutes 32 seconds.
That gave Ireland a marginal lead going into yesterday's showjumping phase in which Murphy was the only one to leave that course intact.
An astounding comeback in Hamburg by Monkstown fell just short of putting Irish representatives through to the second phase of the EuroHockey League.
Needing a win against Spanish side Egara to progress to the last 16 at Easter, they conjured up a 3-3 draw, with five of the six goals coming in the tumultuous final quarter.
The preliminary stages of the game at Harvestehuder were error-strewn and largely devoid of goalmouth action.
Then Lluis Mercade scrambled the ball past Davy Fitzgerald for the opener on 44 minutes, followed by a couple of strikes from veteran Spanish legend Edouard Tubau.
Requiring four goals in as many minutes to rescue qualification, undaunted 'Town managed three.
The first, from Kyle Good, was forced over the line from close range before Gareth Watkins and Peter Caruth belted home a couple of spectaculars.
IRELAND lost to "one of their own" in Harare yesterday as an unbeaten century from Craig Ervine delivered a five-wicket victory to Zimbabwe, and with it an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match one-day international series.
Paul Stirling, Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson all made half-centuries in an Ireland total of 268-7 but Ervine, an Irish passport holder who has played for Lisburn and the Northern Knights, paced the reply superbly, going to 101 not out with the boundary that won the game with nine balls to spare.
Ireland will look back on another lost toss and a couple of debatable lbw decisions against Stirling, who top scored with 72, and Ed Joyce, but a disappointing 66 from the final 10 overs of the visitor's innings is probably where the game slipped away.
It was another weekend for upsets in the Basketball Ireland Men's Premier League as UL Eagles claimed an unlikely 77-71 win at GCD Swords Thunder.
The Limerick side capitalised on poor shooting by Swords to lead at half-time but still had to come from behind in the fourth quarter.
Eagles are just one of three teams without a loss after two rounds of the league.
UCD Marian went 2-0 with an away win at SSE Airtricity Moycullen, while Templeogue followed up their win over champions C&S UCC Demons by beating an understrength DCU Saints.
Demons bounced back with an 83-53 win over Pyrobel Killester.
Team Montenotte Hotel remain unbeaten in 2015 after a 87-65 win at Meteors.
Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy gained revenge for his defeat in the 2014 MyClubShop.ie All-Ireland 60x30 Senior Singles final when he routed reigning champion Eoin Kennedy in Saturday's final.
Mullingar man McCarthy was razor-sharp from the off and raced to a 21-3 first-game win.
Veteran Kennedy, from St Brigid's in Dublin, had no answer to McCarthy's aggression and power as he ran out a 21-7 winner in game two.
Meanwhile, Mayo's Niall Joyce beat Kilkenny's Shane Dunne 21-11, 21-11 in a high-quality minor final, with Wexford brothers Jim and Mikey Berry winning the intermediate doubles title.
Joe Courtney made it eight hillclimb and sprint wins in a row at the weekend, to clinch the Naylor Engineering National Championship for the first time.
The Galwayman added two more victories to his collection when he dominated both days of the Wexford Sprint at Carrig-on-Bannow, with Rory Stephens second each time to take runner-up position in the points table.
At Mondello Park, Mark Dunleavy finally came out the winner in the second Formula Sheane race, after a thrilling duel all the way with Richard Kearney.
The two cars swapped places time and time again, despite Kearney's car having lost its nosecone on the opening lap.
Earlier, Paul McLoughlin won the opening race from Kearney in an even closer finish, with just over a tenth of a second separating the pair.
Former National and Tarmac champions Declan and Brian Boyle took a comfortable win in the Donegal Harvest Rally at Burt, with their Fiesta WRC one-and-a-half minutes clear of the top Ford Escort of Gary Kiernan and Niall Tierney.