World's best Aymar to test Irish resolve
Published 12/08/2011 | 05:00
Ireland will attempt to tame the world's best women's hockey player when reigning World Cup holders Argentina visit Belfield today (5.0) for the first of a two-game series, which serves as a last tune-up before the European Championships for Gene Muller's team.
Seven-time World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar has won an amazing 344 international caps and her inclusion in the Argentinian panel should make for the highlight of a hectic summer of fixtures for the Irish.
The teams will play again tomorrow at 4.0.
The Irish U-19s bounced back from Tuesday's 3-0 mauling to beat Serbia 1-0 in the second of their friendly matches in Belgrade.
Southend United winger George Smith created the crucial opening on 32 minutes by delivering a cross for Reading striker David Murphy to head the ball home.
Manager Paul Doolin will recall some of his first-choice players for the final warm-up matches in Slovenia on September 3 and 5. Then, from October 6-11, the real business starts when they meet Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and mini-group hosts Bulgaria in the UEFA first-phase qualifiers, aiming to capture one of the two places into the elite phase.
Ireland's representatives in the UEFA Women's Champions League, Peamount United, almost earned what would have been a credible draw against last year's quarter-finalists Rayo Vallecano in their group opener last night in Slovenia.
Eileen Gleeson's team had coped well against their illustrious opponents until a strike a minute into stoppage-time from Vallecano skipper Natalia gave the Spaniards a 1-0 victory.
IRish star Amy Bowtell yesterday shocked the No 2 seed in the quarter-finals of the ITF Women's Circuit event in Gijon, Spain.
Unseeded Bowtell stormed back from losing the first set to pull off a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 victory over Germany's Karolina Nowak, who is ranked 303 places ahead of the Irishwoman.
In partnership with Britain's Lucy Brown, the Irish player has also nailed down a place in the doubles final -- against the top seeds, Spain's Amanda Carreras and Venezuela's Andrea Gamiz.
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Australia's Mark Renshaw, who has guided Mark Cavendish to many of his Tour de France stage wins, has agreed a two-year contract with Rabobank, the Dutch team announced yesterday.
Renshaw's signing was confirmed after the demise of HTC-Highroad saw him freed from his contract, which was due to run into the 2012 season.
The 28-year-old, who played a crucial role in Cavendish's success, piloting the Briton in sprint finales, will ride in support of Holland's Theo Boss.