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Bears out to claw Tigers

RUGBY LEAGUE: Athboy Longhorns begin the defence of their Leinster crown when they play Ashbourne in Navan today.

The matches see a rerun of last year's Leinster final in the Longhorns' new home base.

In the day's other match, the Ballyfermot Bears and Tallaght Tigers meet in Markievicz Park.

A total of 15 teams divided into three regions compete in this league season.

Current All-Ireland champions are the Country Cowboys from Munster.

HOCKEY: Defending champions Railway Union face UCD while Loreto play Ards in the semi-finals of the Irish Hockey League at Grange Road, Dublin today.

The four clubs qualified from their pools last weekend.

Loreto remain the only unbeaten side in the league this year, while UCD have something to prove having lost 3-2 to Railway in the Irish Senior Cup final in March.

In the men's competition, Monkstown are the only Leinster club to have made it through.

They face Lisnagarvey in their semi-final today, while Banbridge play Cookstown.

Finals take place tomorrow (1.30pm).

VOLLEYBALL: Aer Lingus and Santry both added Association Cup titles to their premier league victories in two magnificent matches held in UCD.

In the men's cup final, Aer Lingus beat Ballymun Patriots in a five-set epic.

The Alsaa team, winners two years ago, battled hard to win the opener and then went two sets up.

They looked like closing out the match in the third, but Ballymun stormed back to take the next two sets so forcing the tie-breaker.

Only towards the very end did Aer Lingus find the two points they needed.

In the women's decider, Santry faced a formidable Trinity team that has steadily improved all year and dumped out title holders DVC in the semi-finals.

Santry started nervously knowing that they were on for the first league and cup double in their history.

Although honours were shared for much of the set, Trinity closed it out at 25-21.

Santry started the second set in a more determined frame of mind and despite superb play and long rallies from both teams, soon had an edge they kept until the end.

SQUASH: After her fifth win at the Cannon Kirish Irish Open in Fitzwillam, Dublin, Madeline Perry is leading the Irish women's team at the European Team Championships, with final matches today.

A strong Irish team includes Aisling Blake, winner of the Irish National title, and Laura Mylotte.

In their first match, Blake had the satisfaction of defeating Deon Saffrey, who beat her 3-0 in the opening round of the Irish Open.

The Irish men's team of Arthur Gaskin, Derek Ryan, Brian Byrne and Steve Richardson, in division two, play their final matches today.

DUATHLON: Killian Heery of Muckno Tri had a narrow victory over Stephen Surdival of Endurance State in the opening Runways Dublin Duathlon of the season held in the Phoenix Park on Wednesday evening. Heery led after the opening 2.7km run and kept that lead on the 12km cycle and the second 2.7km to win in 38 mins 14 secs.

Surdival, who was first M35, managed a super fast second transition and was only nine seconds behind at the finish.

In third place was Derek McCormack of Naas TC.

First woman was Marie Triona Keane of TS in 41 mins 38 secs, with Aoife Lynch a close second and Caroline Conway of Sportsworld third. A record 324 finished.