Tuesday 27 June 2017

Vettel battles to secure pole

MOTORSPORT: Sebastian Vettel claimed Red Bull's 10th pole position of the year following an electrifying battle with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard -- quickest in the first two qualifying sessions -- seemed poised to take Ferrari's first pole for 28 races, stretching back to the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.

But roared on by his home fans at Hockenheim, Vettel snatched top spot from double world champion Alonso by just two thousandths of a second on his final flying lap to spark joyous scenes amongst the German fans.

Vettel will almost certainly claim this to be the best pole of his six this season and the 11th of his career. Fortunately, there was none of the rain that blighted practice on Friday, as well as the start of yesterday morning's final session.

It served up a stunning display, with Ferrari proving they are back with a bang given their recent problems as Felipe Massa will start third.

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Rowing: Ireland's lightweight men's surpassed all expectations at the under-23 world rowing championships in Belarus when they won yesterday's semi-final to set themselves up with a real prospect of a medal in today's final.

After their heat-winning performance on Thursday Niall Kenny, Michael Maher, Mark O'Donovan and Justin Ryan had already made their season's target with a top-12 finish. But Irish fans were ecstatic when the quad -- who reached the A final two weeks ago in Lucerne -- crossed the line in first place.

France made the early running and led the field after 500m, with Ireland, Great Britain and Switzerland all within a canvas of each other for second and third. The French were still leading at halfway, but the pack was closing fast, with Ireland taking the lead in the third quarter.

The Irish crossed the line a third of a length clear of the British, and not even a late surge by the Swiss could deny France the third slot in the final.

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CRICKET: Pakistan ended their 15-year wait for a Test victory over Australia yesterday, a feat captain Salman Butt put down to having possibly the best pace attack in the world.

Pakistan, chasing 180 to win the second Test, stuttered to a three-wicket victory on Butt's debut as captain to draw the series 1-1. Australia were on the back foot from the opening day when they were skittled for just 88. Pace trio Mohammad Asif (11 wickets), Mohammad Aamer (11) and Umar Gul (8) claimed a collective 30 wickets in the two-Test series.

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Railway Union bridged a 43-year gap to take their second Leinster Senior Cup when they beat Clontarf by two wickets in College Park.

The south Dublin side dismissed Clontarf for 134 and looked to be coasting to an easy win when they were on 90-1. A fightback spearheaded by Bill Coghlan and Alex Cusack led to some nervous moments for Railway before Saad Ullah and Sam Farthing saw them home with 10 overs remaining.

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TENNIS: British player Daniel Cox was crowned Men's Irish Open Singles champion yesterday after defeating Italian Andrea Falgheri in three sets, 6-1 3-6 6-3.

The 19-year-old beat Irish players Daniel Glancy and James McGee en route to the final before overcoming Falgheri at a sunny Fitzwilliam LTC in Dublin.

Cox started well, taking the first set 6-1, breaking Falgheri in the third game and winning the next five games in a row. In the second set, Falgheri broke Cox in the fourth, winning three games in a row to take the second set 6-3.

In the third and final set, Cox broke Falgheri in the sixth game, taking the next two games to win the third set and clinch the title.

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SWIMMING: Olympian Mel-anie Nocher returned to her best form last night with a stunning record-breaking display at the Irish Open and Youth Championships in the NAC.

Nocher, who is part of the Irish team heading to the European Championships next month, smashed her previous best when she clocked 2:11.74 -- becoming the first Irish woman to break the 2:12 barrier.

Meanwhile, University of Tennessee-based Ryan Harrison won the 400m freestyle in 3:59.42 ahead of Nate Kramer, 4:03.74 while Steven McQuillan claimed the 100m butterfly in 55.78 ahead of fellow Ulsterman Conor Leaney, 55.86.

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ATHLETICS: Andrew Ledwith of Fr. Murphy's AC broke John Treacy's 10K road record in the USA yesterday when he ran a time of 27:34.6 when finishing second to the Ethiopian, Alene Reta's course record of 28:18.7.

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HOCKEY: Ireland lost the second of the three series of women's hockey internationals against Scotland in Stirling yesterday, again by a one-goal margin, this time by 2-1 after Friday's opening 1-0 defeat.

The inexperienced Irish line-up -- which included six newcomers -- competed well early on but Scotland led 1-0 at half-time, the goal coming on 25 minutes as a result of poor defensive covering. However, Ireland were back in the contest on 43 minutes thanks to the goal poaching skills of Jean McDonnell who blasted home the equaliser when Clodagh Sargent provided the opening.

But lack of concentration let Scotland regain the lead with a second goal with 15 minutes left, which they defended to the end despite constant Irish pressure.

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CAMOGIE: All eyes will be on the semi-final draw tomorrow after the conclusion of the round-robin phase of the Gala All-Ireland senior camogie championship yesterday.

Kilkenny, Wexford, Galway and Cork go into the hat, giving fans the prospect of two mouth-watering pairings in a fortnight.

Wexford blitzed a previously unbeaten Kilkenny outfit 2-10 to 0-10. Cork made light work of Clare, cruising to a 2-20 to 0-8 victory while in the third tie Tipperary destroyed Dublin 5-21 to 0-6.

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