Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cusack holds nerve for win

CRICKET: Alex Cusack held his nerve to show just how important he is to Ireland's T20 side in their two-run win over Canada in yesterday, writes Ger Siggins in Abu Dhabi. The Clontarf man missed most of the season with a back injury but Phil Simmons was very relieved when he made the plane.

With Canada needing 14 to win off the last over, Cusack mixed it up and only once did a batsman connect and hit a boundary. With five needed off the last ball, Kevin O'Brien dived to prevent a four that would have seen a one-over tiebreak.

After losing two early wickets, the O'Brien brothers again came together for a useful stand of 58 before they were dismissed by Hansra. That brought Gary Wilson and Trent Johnston together, the latter a surprise promotion to No 5.

But it was a stroke of genius by Simmons, with Johnston powering his way to 39 off 24 balls, his best T20 score, including two huge sixes.

After two balls of their innings Canada were 0-2, thanks to the varied swing of Max Sorensen, but Ashish Bagai (67no) and Ruvindu Gunasekera (65) made a stunning recovery to 125, a record partnership against Ireland.

Ireland's bowling was not up to its usual standard – even ending the remarkable run of more than 500 overs without a no-ball in 20- and 50-over games this year – but Simmons particularly enjoyed the win over the side coached by his fellow Trinidadian Gus Logie, who was once his groomsman!

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Sachin Tendulkar struggled to hold back the tears as he soaked up the unconditional veneration of an Indian crowd for the last time when the sun set on the master batsman's glittering 24-year career.

After his side completed the formalities of an easy victory over West Indies in Mumbai, Tendulkar collected a stump as a memento and slowly made his way through a mobile guard of honour and struggling to hide his emotions.

A day after the anniversary of his international debut against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989 as a mop-haired 16-year-old, he leaves the game after playing more Test matches (200), scoring the most Test (15,921) and one-day international (18,426) runs, and compiling more Test (51) and one-day (49) hundreds than any other player in cricket history.

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BOXING: John Joyce claimed gold at the European Junior Championships in Anapa, Russia yesterday to help Ireland finish in second spot in the medals table at the 26-nation tournament.

The St Michael's Athy BB southpaw beat Russia's Shakhin Aslanov on a split decision in the light-welterweight final at the Black Sea holiday resort.

Galway's Frankie Cleary and Dublin's Martin Stokes had to settle for silver after losing their 50kg and 54kg finals to Bulgarian and English opponents.

Cleary (Olympic BC) had an agonising wait before the result of his contest with Daniel Asenov was announced. Asenov probably won the first round but Cleary won the second. However, the computer went on the blink in the third.

Consequently, the five judges were called back in and – after nearly ten minutes of a delay – handed the Bulgarian a 3-2 win.

Stokes (Mulhuddart BC) produced a fine display of counter-punching but was beaten on a unanimous decision by Southampton's Ryan Garner in the bantamweight final.

The Irish squad are due to arrive home via Dublin Airport at 11.20 this morning.

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gaelic games: An explosive 2-3 without reply in a three-minute spell midway through the second half decided a fractious Munster Club SF Championship semi-final at Killarney when champions Dr Crokes of Kerry quenched the Loughmore-Castleiney challenge 3-16 to 1-5 after the Tipperary side were reduced to 14 players with the 36th-minute dismissal of wing-forward Cian Hennessy.

Two John McGrath points rocked the champions early on but a Colm Cooper penalty settled Crokes as Brian Looney kicked some massive points. A John McGrath goal from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute kept the Tipp side in touch but Crokes still led 1-8 to 1-3 at the interval.

In a game of 14 yellows, two more reds saw Crokes lose Chris Brady and Loughmore-Castleiney lose John Ryan.

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basketball: Dublin Inter pulled off the shock the night as they knocked out UL Eagles on a 147-146 aggregate scoreline in the third period of overtime in the second leg of the National Cup first round at Mountview.

Limerick had taken a 74-63 lead heading into this return game but Giedrius Trakauskas was to make one of his free throws in the dying seconds to take the game into over-time.

And in a frantic climax Mindaugas Tamusauskas grabbed the winning basket albeit after Matthew Hall and Eoin Quigley had failed to convert chances at the other end.

Templeogue, after the shock departure of the two James brothers, restored some pride against Vincents with Phil Taylor shooting well against his own club. But baskets from Martin Provizors and Eoin Quill ensured victory for Vincents who now face Neptune.

Demons, meanwhile, squeezed through by the narrowest of margins despite losing to UCD while Ciaran Roe (24 pts) ensured Killester's passage against Star.

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formula 1: Sebastian Vettel again conjured another late blast to snatch pole position from Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber for today's United States Grand Prix.

A poor final sector around Austin's Circuit of the Americas cost Webber dear, whilst Vettel blitzed that part of the track to take the 44th pole of his Formula One career by 0.103secs. Lotus' Romain Grosjean will start third.

Sunday Independent

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