Rain gives Ireland jitters in desert
TRENT JOHNSTON joked that he had ticked the final box on his Ireland playing career after yesterday's ICC World T20 qualifier against Italy was rained off in the Abu Dhabi desert.
The United Arab Emirates gets about a week's worth of rain a year by Irish standards but the unexpected downpour could cause a few last-minute jitters on the road to qualifying for the finals in Bangladesh.
Had Ireland completed expected victories over Italy and Uganda in today's match, then even a measured defeat in their final group game against second-placed Hong Kong on Sunday would have secured top spot in Group A.
But it is now likely Ireland will have to beat Hong Kong to ensure qualification.
Northampton have suffered a blow with the news that George Pisi will miss both Heineken Cup games against Leinster after his six-week ban was upheld at an appeals hearing in London.
Pisi lost his appeal against the sanction imposed for his 'tip tackle' on Tommy Bowe during Samoa's clash against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
Meanwhile, Australia will not appeal the five-week ban imposed on Tevita Kuridrani for his dangerous tackle on Ireland back-row Peter O'Mahony last Saturday.
world champion Sebastian Vettel says Mark Webber's retirement after Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix will be a loss for both him and Red Bull despite their frequently frosty relationship.
The 37-year-old Australian is bowing out of Formula One after 12 years in which he has enjoyed nine wins, to start a new career racing for Porsche in their Le Mans endurance programme.
"We didn't have the best relationship on a personal level but I think in terms of working professionally together for the team it has been very strong," said the 26-year-old German.
IRISH middleweight Andy Lee will be aiming to improve to 31 wins from 33 outings in Manchester tomorrow night having been called up as a late replacement for Martin Murray on the undercard to the Carl Froch versus George Groves WBA/IBF clash at the 4U Arena.
Meanwhile, Olympian Darren O'Neill TKO'd Ahmed Abdelfatta in the first round of their last-eight clash at the Tammer Multi Nations in Finland last night.
Elsewhere, the first batch of National Senior Intermediate finals will be decided tonight. Boxing begins at 7.0 at Dublin's National Stadium.