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FitzGibbon stars for battling Irish

The Irish team finished fifth in yesterday's FEI Nations Cup in Falsterbo, Sweden to stay second on the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the eight-leg Superleague series.

And it was 23-year-old rookie Nicola FitzGibbon who produced the best Irish result when collecting just four faults over the two rounds with her brilliant gelding Puissance.

Drawn seventh of the nine nations, Irish chances were not looking good as Shane Breen was riding the inexperienced Cos I Can, Denis Lynch was partnering a new horse Lord Luis, FitzGibbon was making her debut at Superleague level and anchorman Cian O'Connor was riding the borrowed Splendor.

But Breen's eight-year-old rose to the occasion with just a single mistake each time out. For team manager Robert Splaine, however, the decision to include FitzGibbon proved a particularly good one when she stayed cool to follow an opening error with the classiest of clears from her 14-year-old gelding, despite badly deteriorating ground conditions.

In a thriller, Germany came out on top ahead of France and Sweden in joint-second, but Splaine now has the headache of finding another side for next Thursday's crunch leg at Aachen, Germany.


A stunning performance by Ireland's open-weight women rowers has earned them a place in the semi-finals at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Lisa Dilleen and Sanita Puspure refused to be overawed by the pedigree of the crews alongside on the start line. Among them were the experienced Germans Sophie Dunsing and Nina Wengert, who took the silver medal on their home waters in Hamburg three weeks ago.

With New Zealand making all the pace the Irish duo hung on grimly and were only a second off the Kiwis' pace at the 500m signal. While the competition fell further behind, New Zealand and Ireland forged ahead to qualify for the semis together.

Siobhan McCrohan also won her repechage in the lightweight single sculls to claim a place in her semi-final. But Claire Lambe and Sarah Dolan missed a semi-final place in the lightweight women's doubles.


WILLIE 'Big Bang' Casey has signed with Guillermo 'The Jackal' Rigondeaux's Nowhere2Hyde stable just a few months after the Cuban beat the Limerick southpaw.

Cork promoter Gary Hyde, who manages Rigondeaux, confirmed that Casey yesterday inked a three-year deal with his team.

The ex-European champ will have his first fight under his new banner at the Limerick Institute of Technology on September 3.

Casey (29) claimed the European super-bantamweight crown after stopping Dubliner Paul Hyland in the fourth round at the University of Limerick last year.

However, he then relinquished the continental strap to challenge Rigondeaux.

Irish Independent