Friday 24 February 2017

Murtagh to boost Ireland

CRICKET: The Irish team has received a boost with news of the recruitment of top Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh, writes Ger Siggins.

The man who took 80 wickets in last summer's county championship became an Irish citizen last week, and if he gets his passport by February 12 he can play in the World Twenty20 qualifier in Dubai. Murtagh, who goes by the nickname 'Dial M', qualifies through his Dublin-born grandfather.

Before Francis Vincent Murtagh emigrated to London, however, his first son, Andy, was born here. Andy went on to play for Hampshire, who featured on BBC TV one Sunday afternoon in the 1970s. The commentator was the gravel-voiced John Arlott, who was describing an over by a player called Johnny Rice.

Rice bowled an accurate delivery which was gently pushed into the covers and fielded by Murtagh. There really wasn't much to say and Arlott said nothing for six or seven seconds before pronouncing, "Rice bowls and Paddy fields..."

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Spinner Abdur Rehman took six wickets as Pakistan beat England by 72 runs in the second test yesterday to clinch the three-match series, bowling out the 'tourists' for 72 in their second innings after another abject batting display.

England had earlier dismissed Pakistan for 214 to give themselves a target of 145 to win in Abu Dhabi.

But Andrew Strauss's men again failed to deal with the host's triple spin threat of Rehman, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez. Rehman ended on 6-25, while Ajmal's figures were 3-22. Only Strauss (32) and Matt Prior (18) managed double figures, the tourists losing all 10 wickets in the space of 22 overs.

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HOCKEY: A single drag-flick goal from veteran Pietie Coetzee for South Africa in the sixth minute was all that separated Ireland and the hosts in the Tri Nations game in Johannesburg.

The first half did not see much goalmouth action, with Ireland's best chance coming in the dying moments after a penetrating cross from Emma Clarke just evaded the diving Sinéad Connery. Ireland came out of the traps fast after the break but the South African defence could not be penetrated. Heavy rain slowed the pitch considerably towards the end, making conditions difficult. "We were defensively very good and created some quality chances," said Irish coach Gene Muller.

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GAELIC GAMES: Kildare's hurlers fell to something of a surprise defeat on their home pitch against GMIT in the Kehoe Cup yesterday afternoon, going down 1-17 to 1-16.

The game went to extra-time with the score at 1-12 each at full-time, and with Jimmy Gelston and Jason Hanrahan in fine form from frees, GMIT clinched a one-point victory to earn a semi-final place.

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Wayne Fitzpatrick scored a sensational 2-7 -- despite playing with a broken finger on his right hand -- as the Kildare Vocational Schools side lifted a Leinster title on their home patch with a 2-11 to 2-8 victory over Dublin.

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RUGBY: St Mary's continued their push at the top of AIL Division 1A with a 27-10 victory at Old Belvedere.

After only 11 minutes Belvedere's John Kennedy ran in a try, and Aidan Wynne converted. Mary's started to attack with more purpose, however, and Darren Hudson replied with a try of their own, which Ray Crotty converted with ease from close range. Wynne added a penalty in the 33rd minute to give Belvedere a three-point lead at half time, yet the loss of winger Eddie Devitt through injury saw them lose attacking creativity.

In the second half, Mary's took control of the game as Colm McMahon forced himself through the Belvedere defence. Again, Crotty calmly converted, before adding a fine penalty five minutes later.

Another Crotty penalty was followed by a Philip Brophy try in stoppage time.

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Cork Constitution halted Lansdowne's recent revival with a deserved 19-13 victory at Temple Hill.

Con led 9-6 at the break, with Gerry Hurley kicking three penalties and Craig Ronaldson replying for Lansdowne. The visitors went ahead with a try from Matt Healy which Ronaldson converted, but two tries from Cathal Quinn midway through the second half secured the points for the Leesiders.

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Willie Staunton was the hero as Young Munster got back to winning ways when they saw off Blackock College 25-10 at Clifford Park.

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BOXING: Kenny Egan will meet Joe Ward in next Friday's Elite Championships light-heavyweight final. Egan set up the "battle of the southpaws" after Eamon Walsh retired in round two of last night's semi-final with a facial injury. Egan was 17-4 ahead at the time.

The final with Ward will be a repeat of the 2011 final which Ward won, a victory which denied Egan his 11th straight Irish title.

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basketball: Scruffy St Pauls were crowned Senior Women's Cup champions at the National Arena last night as they over overcame Kerry rivals, Tralee Imperials, on a 51-36 scoreline.

Tralee had opened up a double-digit lead early on with captain, Emma Sheridan grabbing two early baskets.

Pauls, through MVP Mairead Finnegan (20 pts), soon began to wear down the Tralee defence and by half time Tralee's lead had been reduced to 24-21. And the two teams were tied on 34-34 each before Pauls made their move with three minutes to go when, following a basket from Muiriosa Galway, Lynn Jones dropped in the insurance score from the outside.

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