Sunday 25 February 2018

Cricket: Rain halts play at Stormont

The rain that swamped Belfast over the past 48 hours put paid to any hopes of a result in the RSA Challenge at Stormont yesterday, writes Ger Siggins.

An all-night mopping up operation by the ground staff allowed play to start just 45 minutes late and veteran pace man Brett Lee showed just what he still has to offer in a stunning first over. Lee unleashed a 90mph opening delivery which cut back viciously to demolish captain William Porterfield's wicket.

Ed Joyce escaped a good lbw shout next ball, but Lee turned up the pace and another inswinger blew through his defences to leave Ireland 0-2.

Paul Stirling showed his natural aggression and thrashed a four off the first he faced from Lee. New star Pat Cummins kept Stirling and Niall O'Brien quiet for a while, but the Northants keeper clipped a lovely four through to square leg. The teenager took the wicket of Stirling for 24 through a stunning slip catch by Michael Clarke, before the rain returned, with Ireland on 36-3 off 10.4 overs.

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FORMULA ONE: Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel will attempt to win the European Grand Prix from pole position for the third year in a row after setting the fastest time in qualifying yesterday.

The two-time defending champion set a lap of 1 min 38.086 seconds on Valencia's 5.4-km street circuit.

Vettel's 33rd career pole, drawing level with Jim Clark and Alain Prost for the third most in history.

Overall leader Lewis Hamilton, who has finished runner-up in three of the past four races in Valencia, is also on the front row, while Venezuela's Pastor Maldonado, a surprise winner of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona last month, was an impressive third for Williams.

The two Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen made the most of the 46 degree centigrade track temperature to take fourth and fifth place.

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GAELIC GAMES: A first-half goal from Paul Winters set Dublin on the way to a 1-12 to 0-10 win over Kilkenny in the Leinster MHC semi-final in Portlaoise yesterday.

Conor Martin pushed Kilkenny three points clear by the 13th minute but Winters' deft flick from Colm Cronin's delivery nine minutes later helped the Dubs lead by 1-5 to 0-4 by the interval. Martin tried in vain to salvage Kilkenny's hopes in the second-half, hitting eight points, but Dublin prevailed thanks to late scores by Winters and the excellent Cormac Costello.

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CAMOGIE: Jenny O'Leary converted a 60th minute free to snatch a 0-16 to 2-9 victory for league champions Cork over Clare in the opening round of the All-Ireland Senior Championship.

Clare led 1-6 to 0-8 at half time thanks to a third minute goal from Fiona Lafferty, while points from Julia White and O'Leary (two) left just the minimum between them.

All-Ireland champions Wexford tore into Tipperary in the first half at The Ragg before recording a comfortable 1-17 to 1-6 win.

Una Leacy kicked a fourth minute goal to send JJ Doyle's charges on their way and Ursula Jacob slotted seven frees as they led by 10 points at the interval.

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GOLF: Sweden's Pelle Edberg was the main mover on day three of the BMW International Open in Cologne, while Ireland's Paul McGinley had a day to forget -- shooting a 77.

Edberg picked up six shots to close to within one of overnight leader and fellow Swede Joel Sjoholm.

Sjoholm was the halfway leader on 11 under par. But Edberg closed the gap to just one stroke as he reached 10 under from his first nine holes. Back bunched on nine under is McGinley.

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PADRAIG HARRINGTON was a major mover at the Travellers Championship in Connecticut yesterday. The Dubliner hit eight birdies in the third round and dropped shots at just three holes including the 18th.

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ATHLETICS: Shane Quinn of the Ferrybank club in Waterford was an impressive winner of the 20th annual Dromana Run -- a five-mile race from Villierstown to Cappoquin, on the route that John Treacy ran to school and back in his young days.

Angela McCann from Clonmel, already the winner of both the Limerick and Cork marathons this year, continued her remarkable form when taking the women's title in a time of 30.18.

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London-bound triathlete Aileen Morrison finished 14th of 41 top female triathletes in Kitzbuhel, Austria yesterday.

Morrison was in 19th position after the 1,500m swim -- 17 seconds off the leader -- but after running a 35 minute 10k run, clawed her way back up to 14th overall.

Switzerland's Nicola Spirig made it three victories in a row by sprinting clear of Sweden's Lisa Norden and New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt in third.

Morrison will now move to a high altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada in Spain for three weeks in order to put the finishing touches to her Olympic preparations.

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BOXING: The Texas State Commission have reported that anti-doping tests for both Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr and Limerick southpaw Andy Lee have come back negative.

Chavez stopped Lee in El Paso, Texas eight days ago to successfully defend his WBC World middleweight title for a third time.

After the fight, Lee's coach Emanuel Steward demanded that Dick Cole and the Texas State Commission clarify whether Chavez gave a urine sample for a mandatory anti-doping test and what the result was.

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SOCCER: Former Northern Ireland captain Alan McDonald has died aged 48.

The QPR stalwart won 52 caps for his country and was a member of Northern Ireland's World Cup side in 1986. McDonald went on to manage Glentoran, winning the Irish League title in 2009, and also coached his country's under 21 side.

Sammy McIlroy, a close friend and former team-mate said: "I'm shell-shocked. Words can't even enter my head at the moment. Alan was always larger than life -- during his career and after."

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UEFA have expressed "disappointment and surprise'' at the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) decision to clear Turkey's Bursaspor to take part in next season's Europa League.

UEFA had banned the 2010 Turkish champions from European competition for one year for failing to pay outstanding transfer fees dating back to 2007.

CAS ruled that Bursaspor be excluded from one UEFA club competition for which it qualifies in the next four years, but that this exclusion be suspended for a probationary period of three years.

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