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McIlroy expects tough conditions at US Open

GOLF: Rory McIlroy is expecting a far stiffer test when he defends the US Open in six weeks' time -- but not because he knocked four shots off the championship record last year.

The weather is likely to dictate that the Olympic Club in San Francisco will be fast and fiery for the second major of the season.

McIlroy was 16 under par and eight clear of the rest at Congressional near Washington.

He said: "The thing that made the scoring low was the fact they got so much rain before. Last year was a bit of an exception. I'm expecting something around level par isn't going to be too far away."

Pebble Beach was firm when Graeme McDowell won two years ago, with McIlroy missing the cut on that occasion. "At that point I was not playing so well," the 22-year-old added. "I was not in control of my ball."

The recent Masters was billed as McIlroy versus Tiger Woods in some quarters, but it did not turn out like that. "It was a two-horse race for 40th," he said, remembering that they finished level. "Hopefully we both play a bit better at Olympic. It would be great to get into contention and if he's there as well."

Britton sets Olympic time

ATHLETICS: Fionnuala Britton has nailed the Olympic 10,000m qualifying time with her first ever run over the distance on the track.

The European Cross Country champion, who had already qualified for London at steeplechase, got the flat time by clocking 31:29.22 when finishing third at the high-class Payton Jordon Invitational in California.

Her time was well inside the 31:45 'A' standard and the fourth fastest ever by an Irishwoman after Sonia O'Sullivan's 30:47, Catherina McKiernan's 31:08 and Marie Davenport's 31:28:78.

Mullingar Harriers' Mark Christie ran 13:37.32 at the same meeting, which qualified him for this summer's European Championships.

Rebel Cipriani joins Sharks

RUGBY: Former England fly-half Danny Cipriani has confirmed he is leaving Melbourne Rebels.

Cipriani, who has played seven Tests for England, was set to leave the team at the end of the season after signing a three-year deal with Sale Sharks.

The 24-year-old former Wasps player tweeted: "Going to be sad to leave all my team mates. Made some friends for life over here. The back room staff at the rebels don't get enough praise. Loved my time in Melbourne @rebel-army and the fans having been truly amazing. So I thank u for all your support. Thank u."

Meanwhile, Wallabies playmaker Will Genia has made a stunning U-turn by deciding to re-sign with the Queensland Reds two days after the Super Rugby team announced he would join Western Force.

Criteria change for cricketers

cricket: The qualification period for cricketers born overseas to play for England has been extended from four to seven years, which could have a bearing on the Irish team.

The regulation will apply to all male cricketers who begin residence in England after their 18th birthday. For those who start to live in the country before they are 18, the period of qualification will be four years.

Meanwhile, Australia coach Mickey Arthur has thrown his support behind former captain Ricky Ponting's bid to contest a fifth Ashes cricket series against England next year.

Katie leads Ireland to China

BOXING: Irish head coach Billy Walsh says that consistency of performance will be the key for Katie Taylor and the Irish women's team at the AIBA World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in China.

Taylor, the current World lightweight champion, Cavan BC flyweight Ceire Smith and Drimnagh BC middleweight Sinead Kavanagh have been named in a three-strong Ireland squad for Asia.

The Irish squad depart on Thursday for the tournament which will yield places for London 2012.