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O'Brien keeps Ireland on top in Dubai

NIALL O'BRIEN'S 87 and three wickets from George Dockrell kept Ireland on top in their Inter Continental Cup final clash with Afghanistan in Dubai.

Ireland reduced Afghanistan to 136 for 5 in their pursuit of a challenging 347 for victory.

Trent Johnston gave Ireland the perfect start as they looked to win the trophy for the fourth time, trapping Shabir Noori (8) in the first over of the Afghanistan reply. However, he left the field after just one additional over just before tea.

First innings hero John Mooney dismissed Nowroz Mangal (23), brilliantly caught off the inside edge by Niall O'Brien.

George Dockrell then took centre stage, claiming three wickets in quick succession, including that of the dangerous Mohammed Shehzad (39).

Ireland were dreaming of a win inside three days, but resolute defence from Rehmat Shah (33) and Mohammed Nabi (25) ensured Afghanistan got through to the close without further damage – their sixth wicket stand currently worth 51.

Earlier in the day, Ireland had lost Ed Joyce (78) in the first over, but a fourth wicket stand of 81 between Niall O'Brien (87) and Andrew White (39) saw Ireland remain very much in the ascendancy.

GOLF: Alex Cejka celebrated his first wedding anniversary with a one-shot lead over world number four Justin Rose after the opening round of the Thailand Golf Championship yesterday.

Germany's Cejka (right), winless since 2002, reeled off eight birdies for an unblemished card at the Amata Spring Country Club on the outskirts of Bangkok to lead Rose and local hope Arnond Vongvanij.

"Nice to shoot a good score on a good day," the 43-year-old said after carding an eight-under-par 64 on his first wedding anniversary with wife Alyssa.

Rose, who won his first major at the US Open in June, missed only one green in regulation and nailed seven birdies en route to a near-flawless 65.


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