| 6.5°C Dublin

Breen primed to get off to impressive start

MOTOR SPORT: On New Year's Day Waterford's Craig Breen will take the first plane journey of what will be many during his mammoth ERC/WRC-2 2015 season to begin pre-event testing ahead of his first event.

Having announced on Christmas week that he is to lead the Peugeot Rally Academy FIA European Rally Championship campaign for a third consecutive year Breen is more determined than ever to take the ERC title next November and prove that was it not for an unlucky streak in 2014 that he had the package around him to win it then.

First up for Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin is the FIA ERC Internationale Jännerrallye in Austria where the Peugeot pair will compete in their Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 on what are often snow and ice covered asphalt roads.

The rally runs from Sunday (Jan 4) to Tuesday (Jan 6) taking advantage of a bank holiday in the country and will cover almost 240 kilometres of competitive distance.

The rally gets underway with a short qualifying test on Sunday morning where Breen and Martin will go up against championship regulars like Stephane Lefebvre, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Robert Consani in a shoot out to determine road order for the opening leg on Monday.

The 18 stages that follow in the spectacular Mühlviertel region use fast, undulating country roads increasing the challenge of these tricky conditions.

Barney sets up duel with Lewis

DARTS: Raymond Van Barneveld beat Jamie Caven 4-3 for the second year running at the William Hill World Darts Championship , while Michael Smith came from two sets down to beat Brendan Dolan 4-2 and Vincent van der Voort beat Max Hopp 4-0 yesterday.

Van Barneveld eased to the first set but it was far from plain sailing from then on, with the five-time World Champion going ahead twice more but Caven coming back every time, before Van Barneveld pulled out all the stops to win the deciding set, finishing on the bull just as he did in his first round match.

Caven actually edged the averages and the checkout percentages with his 94.96 to Barney's 93.92 and 44 percent against 42 percent as Caven won 15 legs to Barney's 14, but the more experienced campaigner hit the right shots at the right time to make it through.

Barney did hit more 180s, nine to Caven's four, as he booked a mouth-watering third round clash with double World Champion Adrian Lewis in the last 16 this evening.

"It was different to last year, in the first set I was quite comfortable, I went into the break feeling good but then suddenly then he came back hitting 12, 12 , 15 darters and I just couldn't believe it," said van Barneveld.

"I'm just so happy and so pleased to be in the last 16 now, but all credit to Jamie, he's so fantastic he deserved more but I'm glad I'm through of course, and I'm happy."

RDS put up the sold out signs

RUGBY: Leinster Rugby have confirmed that the Leinster v Ulster clash this Saturday in the RDS has sold out.

It is the first time this season that the RDS has sold out although the Champions Cup game against Wasps in October was just shy of 18,000 capacity.

This is also the first time this season that Leinster and Ulster have met competitively although they did meet in a pre-season friendly that Ulster won 10-7 in the Tallaght Stadium.