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UCD SEEKING TREBLE JOY

HOCKEY: With the Irish Senior Cup and the Leinster Division 1 titles already nailed down, the UCD women are aiming to make it three from three in the Irish Hockey League starting today.

They start their Pool A campaign with a tricky tie against Hermes, the only side to have beaten them so far this season. Also in their pool are Greenfields, the first side from Connacht to compete in the league, and Limerick's Catholic Institute, as well as last year's double champions Railway Union and Ulster side Lurgan. Leinster teams Old Alex and Loreto compete in Pool B along with Pegasus, Ards and Ballymoney from Ulster and Cork Harlequins from Munster.

In the men's competition, Three Rock Rovers, winners of the Irish Senior Cup last week for the first time in 40 years, enter the tournament on a high. They play in Pool A, taking on strong outfits from Lisnagarvey and Pembroke Wanderers among others. UCD's men make their league debut in Pool B, where they will face Leinster League champions Monkstown, along with Banbridge, Cork C of I, Annadale and Corinthian.

TUG OF WAR: Ireland won two silver and two bronze medals at the World Indoor Tug of War Championships held in Castlebar, Co Mayo. The men's 680kg and 640kg teams both lost to Scotland in the finals. Finishing third were the men's 560kg and 600kg teams. China and Chinese Taipei proved the new powerhouses of the sport, winning all the lighter weights and dominating the women's and mixed competitions both at club and international level. Best of the Irish clubs was Clonmany B, winners of the 600kg, 680kg and junior 560kg titles and second to Ayrshire, Scotland in the 640kg class and to Nan Tou in the U23 600kg.

SNOOKER: Dubliner Robert Murphy of Q Club Wicklow consolidated his position at the top of the Irish snooker rankings when he won the fifth RIBSA ranking tournament in Carlow. In a thrilling final, he beat Martin McCrudden from Celbridge 4-3. It was a second win of the season for Murphy, who has made four of the five finals.

pAt Joey's in Dublin, young Carlow snooker ace Corey Ramsbottom came out on top at the 33rd Stars of the Future U14 Championships. After making the final without dropping a set, Ramsbottom beat Seán O'Connor from Kilkenny 2-0 for the title. Next up for junior players are the U16 and U17 Championships, also at Joey's, on Saturday March 29.

SWIMMING: Olympian Barry Murphy (pictured) is one of over 350 swimmers from 58 clubs competing in this weekend's Dave McCullagh Memorial Meet at the new Bangor Aurora Leisure Centre in Bangor, Co Down. Irish record holders Andrew Meegan, Shauna O'Brien and Brendan Hyland have also entered. Providing tough competition for the Irish women is British Olympian and GB record holder Hannah Miley whose aim is to race in 11 events over the three days.

At stake for Ireland's senior swimmers is qualification for the LEN European Swimming Championships in Berlin in August. Paralympic athletes, including World Championship medal winners Darragh McDonald, Ellen Keane, James Scully and Laurence McGivern are also in action.

BADMINTON: Scott Evans went out of the Yonex German Open in Mulheim with his head held high after putting up a tremendous battle against Jen Hao Hsu of Chinese Taipei in his second round match.

In a marathon 80-minute match, the Irish No 1 took the first game comfortably at 21-12, using his serve to powerful effect. Hsu, who is currently ranked at No 30 in the world but has been as high at 24, pulled himself back into the match when he won the second game 21-15. That set up a titanic battle in the decider, although from early on, Hsu always had a point or two in hand and pulled ahead to win the game 21-18.

In the women's singles, Chloe Magee lost her opening round match to Thailand's Nichaon Jindapon in straight sets. Earlier, Magee and brother Sam Magee snatched the opening set of their mixed doubles match 23-21 against No 5 seeds Chun Hei Lee and Hoi Wah Chau of Hong Kong, but eventually lost 1-2.


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