Sunday 26 January 2020

Ministers digest RWC report

RUGBY: The Working Group chaired by Hugo MacNeill which was set up earlier this year to look in detail at Ireland's ability to bid for and then stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup has completed its report.

"It looks to be an excellent report and great credit is due to everyone involved," said Sports Minister Michael Ring TD. "There is plenty of food for thought."

A copy of the report has been presented to the recently appointed Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe, and also to Northern Ireland ministers Arlene Foster and Caral Ní Chuilin.

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CRICKET: The Ireland women's team celebrated another success yesterday, winning the European T20 Championship with two games in hand.

A tightly controlled bowling performance from the Irish attack restricted the Dutch to 86-4 in their 20 overs.

Teenager Lucy O'Reilly starred for the bowlers, taking two wickets for just 14 runs.

Cecelia Joyce top-scored for Ireland with an unbeaten stand of 39. Together with Clare Shillington (31), they almost reached the winning total before Shillington was bowled out with the partnership on 77 runs.

It completes a memorable year for Ireland's female cricketers as the U-15, U-17 and U-19 teams all were victorious in their respective European competitions this year.

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Joe Root helped England overcome an afternoon wobble to stay in cruise control against India on day two of the fifth Test at The Oval.

The hosts lost three wickets for 13 runs, after a century stand between Alastair Cook (79) and Gary Ballance (64) but Root (92 not out) and Jos Buttler reaffirmed England's authority as they closed on 385 for seven and with it a lead of 237 - a position from which England should surely ease to a third successive win at some point over the next three days.

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Dubliner and stand-in captain Niall O'Brien led the way as Leicestershire staged a spirited fightback in a bid to avoid the follow-on against Surrey on the second day of the County Championship game at Grace Road.

Having posted a formidable 480, Surrey had the hosts struggling at 146 for four but an unbeaten 62 by O'Brien and half-centuries from Dan Redfern and Rob Taylor helped Leicestershire to 303 for seven and needing another 28 runs to make Surrey bat again.

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The Leinster Lightning claimed a bonus-point win over North West Warriors in Strabane yesterday, taking them two points clear at the top of the Newstalk IP50 table.

Another excellent innings of 88 by Middlesex's Andy Balbirnie set up a total of 158-5 off 28 rain-interrupted overs.Warriors D/L target was a stiff 215, but a strong Lightning bowling unit chipped away with spinners Albert van der Merwe (3-30) and Balbirnie (2-27) picking up the bulk of the scalps.

Promising teenager Gary McClintock made an excellent 46, but Warriors folded for 160 with five overs left.

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ATHLETICS: The Irish men's 4x400m and women's 4x100m teams both broke the national records yesterday at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

The men's team of Brian Gregan, Brian Murphy, Richard Morrissey and Thomas Barr needed to finish in the top three positions to be sure of qualification for the final.

It all came down to the last leg where Barr went all out as he held off the Belgium team to claim third place in a time of 3.03.57. Barr's split for his leg was a very impressive 45.21.

The women's 4x100m relay team made up of Amy Foster, Kelly Proper, Sarah Lavin and Phil Healy broke the national record with a time of 43.84 but their fourth place finish was just outside a qualifying place.

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BOXING: David Oliver Joyce claimed a historic hat-trick of European Union Elite Championship gold medals in Bulgaria yesterday.

The St Michael's Athy lightweight, who won featherweight gold at this level in 2008 and 2009, beat Georgian lightweight Otar Eranosyan on a unanimous decision in Sofia.

An uncompromising clash between two equally committed orthodox punchers turned in Joyce's favour after he detonated two big uppercuts in the third and final round.

Meanwhile, London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill and Michael O'Reilly had to settle for silver yesterday after losing on split decisions in the 81kg and 75kg semi-finals to Italy's Valentino Manfredonia and Christian Ossomo. Overall, Ireland took home one gold, two silver and one bronze from the tournament

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CYCLING: Mark Downey stormed to victory in the Junior National Time Trial Championships in Cork yesterday.

Fresh from taking a silver medal in the Junior Men's Points Race at the European Track Championships in Portugal last month, the Co Down rider proved as adept on the road. After the 40km time trial, Downey finished 14 seconds ahead of his team-mate Michael O'Loughlin.

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GAELIC GAMES: Kerry may be the only county in Ireland where you cannot throw a stone without hitting an All-Ireland medal winner. However, a rather different All-Ireland winner is celebrating his 80th birthday this weekend.

Niall Sheehy, who was nicknamed Eusebio for his kicking style, played with the Kerry football team from 1958 to 1965 and is the holder of two All-Ireland football medals.

The son of another Kerry legend, John Joe Sheehy, is unique, however, in that he is the sole Kerry man who is also the proud possessor of an All-Ireland hurling medal.

Sheehy won an All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship medal, Kerry's first All-Ireland title since 1891, as well as four National Hurling League Division Two titles.

At club level, Sheehy was part of the famed John Mitchels team of the late 1950s and 1960s, winning six Kerry Senior Football Championships including five in a row from 1959 to 1963 and again in 1966.

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EAMONN Ryan's champions Cork waltzed into the semi-finals of the Women's senior football championship with a comfortable 1-15 to 0-9 win over Mayo at Tullamore. The Rebelettes finished with a flourish to book their place in the last four with hopes of a ninth All-Ireland crown in ten seasons still very much in their sights.

Eimear Scally palmed home Cork's goal eight minutes from time while Mayo finished the game with 14 players after Claire Egan was sin-binned.

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CAPTAIN Caroline O'Hanlon scored 2-6 as Ulster champions Armagh hammered Laois by 5-17 to 0-9 in the All-Ireland Women's senior football championship quarter-final in Tullamore.

O'Hanlon pulled the strings as the Orchard County booked their place in the semi-finals.

O'Hanlon was superb but this was an excellent team performance from Armagh, with nine players on the scoresheet, including all six forwards as well as midfield pair O'Hanlon and Niamh Henderson.

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GOLF: Laytown & Bettystown defeated a young Killarney side to win their second Irish Senior Cup yesterday. Alison Taylor continued her fine form which saw her undefeated over the weekend after yet another victory, this time over Caitriona Griffin.

Laytown & Bettystown then raced into a two-match advantage when Rachel Taylor closed out Valerie Clancy. The fixture was decided when Carol Wickham birdied the 12th, 13th and 14th.

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Rowan Lester will today attempt to become the first Irish winner of the British Boys Open Amateur Championship since Ronan Rafferty 35 years ago.

The 18-year-old international from Hermitage faces Swede Oskar Bergvist in the 36-hole final over the tough Prestwick Links in Ayrshire in Scotland. Lester booked his place in the title decider by beating Norwegian Kristoffer Reitan by 2&1 and Wales' Tim Harry 4&2 yesterday.

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HORSE RACING: Fergal Lynch was back in the winner's enclosure on UK soil for the first time in six years when he steered Go Far home at Doncaster.

The 36-year-old got a fine tune out of the 12/1 chance as he drove the four-year-old to victory by three-quarters of a length in the Betfred Exclusive Competitions Facebook And Twitter Handicap. Last week, the British Horseracing Authority lifted the restrictions placed on Lynch, who admitted stopping Bond City from winning at Ripon in August 2004.

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Jockey Karen Kenny was last night in a stable condition after she underwent a brain scan in Cork University Hospital. Kenny suffered a nasty fall in the opening race at Tramore. Racing was delayed.

Kenny reportedly left the track in a semi-conscious state after her mount, Our Pearl, appeared to clip heels with the winner Hurricane Volta in the 1m 4f maiden. The Turf Club's senior medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick confirmed she had lost consciousness but added that Kenny was responsive and knew she was in Tramore before being flown to Cork.

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