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Symmons is first to 200

HOCKEY: Ireland's Nikki Symmons collected her 200th international cap before the first of last week's three-match Test series against Canada in UCD. Symmons, who plays her club hockey with Loreto, is the first Irish player to reach this considerable milestone.

She made her debut in 2001 against Wales in Cardiff at the age of 18 – a match the Irish won. Her 200 caps haven't come easy – a few years ago, Symmons faced a long lay-off followed by two hip operations.

In the series against Canada, the Irish lost the first match 2-3, but bounced back to win 2-1 a day later. One match remained and when they recorded a magnificent 4-all draw, the series was drawn.

Fittingly, it was Symmons who put the Irish back on track when they trailed 2-4 with only seven minutes left to play.

Her goal set up a nail-biting finish, with Deirdre Duke getting her stick in to equalise from a corner awarded just as the finish hooter sounded.

SNOOKER: Newbridge's Daniel Dempsey, along with Andy McCloskey from Nenagh and Crucible Cork's David Cassidy will make up the Irish team at the World Under-21 Snooker Championships in Beijing, China, starting on July 11. Breda Doherty will travel as referee and PJ Nolan as coach.

* In Carlow, Wales beat Ireland 64 frames to 55 for victory in the annual Celtic Snooker Challenge. In the fifth session, the Irish U16 team recorded a confident 7-5 victory, but it was too little too late.

ORIENTEERING: Paul Mahon and Zoran Skrba paired up to win the annual 24-hour Setanta Rogaine in Co Wicklow by a large margin, collecting 4124 points. In rogaining, pairs have a fixed time to visit up to 30 control points in the most efficient way, building in breaks for sleeping and eating.

Over the weekend, competitors thrashed their way through bog, muck and heather in some of the worst summer weather conditions in the history of the race.

Finishing second on 2575 points was the mixed pair of Clive Coffey and Helen Cassidy. Over the shorter six-hour course, Brian O'Meara and Angus Tyner came home first with 1500 points, followed closely by Steven Linton, who ran as an individual, on 1450 points.

* Want to try orienteering? For a second year, the 3ROC club will hold a series of evening events in Dublin's Phoenix Park in August, all on Tuesdays. Dates are August 13, 20 and 27.

WORLD STUDENT GAMES: Ireland will compete in athletics, swimming, gymnastics, rowing, shooting and football at the World Student Games, starting in Kazan, Russia, next week.

First up for Ireland on July 5 are the football teams, with the Irish women playing China and the men facing Russia in the first of their group matches. A day later, rowers Amy Bulman (UCD) and Monika Duskarska (IT Tralee) take to the water. Gymnast Rohan Sebastian (Michigan) begins his competition on July 7, with athletics, shooting and swimming events in the days to follow. A total of 13,000 sportspeople from 180 nations will compete in 27 sports.

VOLLEYBALL: Running a beach volleyball series in Ireland requires particular fortitude and last week's Ulster Grand Slam in Bundoran, Co Donegal was abandoned halfway through on Saturday with no play at all on the Sunday.

Next up on the tour is the Leinster Grand Slam at Portmarnock beach on July 13-14, with mens', womens' and mixed tournaments. See www.beachvolleyballireland.com.

ROWING: UCD's Claire Lambe placed fifth in the women's lightweight single sculls at rowing's second World Cup in Eton Dorney, England. Leonora Kennedy (Portora) and Monica Dukarska (Killorglin) paired up to finish sixth in the women's doubles, while UCD's Paul O'Donovan was sixth in the men's lightweight singles.

In the para-rowing events, mixed pair Katie O'Brien and Keith Connolly of Tribesman were sixth in their event, while Thomas Kelly was sixth in the singles.


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