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Six-race series planned for Triathlon

TRIATHLON: A new six-race Super Series is just one of several innovations planned for the 2015 triathlon season. The series, with drafting allowed, will provide a higher level of racing that should attract international triathletes as well as providing a stepping stone to the international elite racing scene. It will start with the TryAthy in May and finish with the National Sprint Championships at Clogherhead in September. At club level the Vodafone National Series will feature 29 events spread across the country between April and September, making it easier for "Age Group" athletes to complete the National Series. With mixed team triathlons up for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the first Irish Mixed Team Relay Club Championships takes place in Boyle next June. Athlone will host the middle distance championships in July and Dublin the standard distance championships in August. To be confirmed are a Cross Triathlon National Championships, the National Duathlon Series, as well as junior and youth club and university championships.

HOCKEY: Irish hockey faces a busy 2015 with the campaign for Olympic qualification beginning and the inaugural Irish Hockey League. At international level, both the men and women's teams ended up ranked 14th in the world. For the first time in 65 years, the men beat England world ranked fifth last season, and also scored a notable victory over South Africa. Brothers Conor and David Harte were signed up for the Hockey India League for a fee of €49,000. Among the tournaments heading for Dublin is the World League. The women played a staggering 34 international fixtures, winning or drawing 68% of them. Their biggest win came against Korea, ranked No 9 in the world. They also beat South Africa and Belgium.

BADMINTON: Ireland has drawn England and home nation Belgium for the round-robin stages of the European Mixed Team Badminton Championships taking place in Leuven, Belgium, from February 11-15. Providing Scott Evans and Chloe Magee are fit, they will fancy their chances against Belgium. With two teams from each of four groups making the quarter-finals, a victory over Belgium is essential. Ireland qualified for the tournament final after beating Bulgaria, Slovakia and Norway at the qualifying round in Dublin last November.

VOLLEYBALL: Women's league leaders Naas are drawn against Garda for the second round of the Association Cup, with matches taking place before January 18. In the opening round, Naas were pushed hard by a fighting UCD, narrowly winning the opening set 25-23 and losing the second 15-25. They turned it around in the third winning it 25-15 and then survived a UCD comeback to close out the fourth 28-26 and win the match. Defending champions DVC had a comfortable victory over Newbridge Wild Cats and now face Tallaght Rockets, who put out the second DVC team in the opening round.

ROWING: After just two years in the sport, former showjumper Emma Desmond finished second in the lightweight singles sculls behind Sinead Jennings at Irish trials held in Iniscarra, Co Cork last weekend. International rowers Denise Walsh and Siobhán McCrohan were third and fourth. Not competing was Sanita Puspure, who has an injured rib. Later Desmond paired up with Jennings in a lightweight double. Lightweight rower Justin Ryan proved the fastest of the men, with David Neale winning the heavyweight race from Max Rowan who, with brother Erik, has moved to Ireland from Australia in recent months.


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