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irish aim to pull strings

TUG OF WAR: Teams from Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA are heading for the World Indoor Tug of War Championships in Castlebar, Co Mayo next month.

Up to 1,000 competitors will compete for club and country in one of the biggest sporting events to hit rural Ireland this winter. National teams from traditional tug of war nations such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Spain and Chinese Taipei have all entered teams in a number of weight categories. Mongolia is also entering a number of teams, while Singapore will send women's and mixed teams.

Defending women's world champions Chinese Taipei are taking their title defence very seriously and visited the Clonmany club for a training camp in Donegal in the summer. Chinese Taipei took three golds at the last World Indoors, held two years ago in Perth, Scotland. Ireland took a gold and two bronze medals and have entered teams in all but one of the 10 categories on offer in Castlebar.

In the club competition, teams from Italy, France and Nigeria have already signed up. Clonmany B, the current Irish indoor champions in the 680kg, 640kg and 600kg weight categories, lead the Irish entries.

PARALYMPICS: Dave Malone, the triple Paralympic swimming medal winner, is the new performance manager for Paralympics Ireland. Malone will continue to direct the Paralympic swimming programme, which he has headed since 2009.

Ireland finished 19th in the 2012 medals table at the London Paralympics, with eight medals coming from swimming alone. The goal is to improve on that performance at Rio 2016.

BADMINTON: Joshua Magee, top seed for this weekend's Leinster Open at Baldoyle, is expected to face Liam O'Leary in the men's final. Magee's cousin Rachael Darragh is favourite for the women's title with the experienced Jennie King seeded at No 2.

King and Fiona Glennon pair up for the women's doubles, where Caroline O'Sullivan and Grace Webster are top seeds. Dan Magee and Niall Tierney are the team to beat in the men's doubles, with their most likely threat coming from Joshua Magee and David Walsh. In the mixed doubles, Dan Magee and Fiona Glennon are seeded at No 1, with Joshua Magee and Rachael Darragh at No 2. Also expected to be in the mix is the pairing of Jennie King and the veteran Mark Topping.

In the U15 Open, Paul Reynolds is expected to face Adam McAllister in the boys' final, while Clodagh Dunne and Rachel Woods are top seeds in the girls' draw.

SNOOKER: Josh Boileau, Daniel Dempsey, Ryan Cronin and David Cassidy will make up the U21 team at the European Team Snooker Championships in Bucharest, Romania from March 18-28. Defending champions Mark Tuite and Anthony Bonnar will lead the Irish masters team.

Locally, the Ivy Rooms Carlow hosts the fourth RIBSA Premier Tour Ranking Tournament tomorrow. In one of the most open tours for some years, no one player is dominating.

Winners of the three events so far have been Rodney Goggins, Martin McCrudden and Robert Murphy. Murphy, who plays with the Q Club, Wicklow, tops the rankings on 350 points, with his clubmate Michael Judge second on 300 points.

SQUASH: Derek Ryan showed no signs of age when he won a record seventh Old Belvedere Squash Open title in Dublin's Donnybrook. The former world No 7 and current Irish No 2 overcame a 16-year age gap to beat Irish No 3 Brian Byrne in a five-set thriller.

Ryan won the opening game 11-9 after several long exchanges, but quickly conceded the second and third games. Drawing on his experience, he worked hard to slow down the younger man, whose athleticism drew gasps of admiration from the packed audience. It paid off when he snatched the fourth game 11-8 and set up a fifth set tie-breaker.

With the pace now slowing and a certain amount of gamesmanship evident, a couple of errors by Byrne gave Ryan the match point at 10-8 and his victory came exactly 20 years after his first win in the tournament.


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