Tuesday 21 January 2020

Hanninen takes Circuit victory

motorsport: Following a tremendous duel for top place that lasted for most of the rally, Juho Hanninen and Mikko Markkula of Finland beat their Norwegian rivals Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene to take victory in the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland International Rally, which finished in Armagh last night.

Hanninen led overnight, starting yesterday's stages just six-tenths of a second ahead of Mikkelsen, who promptly reversed the position on the morning's opening test. However, the Finn retook top place and opened up a lead of nine seconds when defending IRC title holder Mikkelsen damaged a wheel on the Redrock stage.

Mikkelsen fought back, but had a disastrous trip into protective bales on the first Lisburn City Centre stage, costing him 40 seconds and leaving Hanninen to cruise home.

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tennis: James McGee and Sam Barry have put Ireland in the driving seat in the Davis Cup relegation play-off against Egypt in Cairo.

Dubliner McGee and Limerick's Barry came up trumps in yesterday's crucial doubles rubber at the El Gezera Club, edging home pair Karim-Mohamed Maamoun and Sherif Sabry 3-6 7-6 (7/3) 6-2 7-6 (7/3).

The doubles win, and the fact that Friday's two singles were shared, means that a victory in one of today's two reverse singles will see Ireland retain their place in Group 2 of the Europe-Africa Zone.

After aggravating a hip injury during Friday's singles loss to Sabry, Conor Niland is not expected to recover in time for the first of today's singles rubbers so Barry is set to replace his fellow Limerickman, with McGee featuring in the second singles.

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golf: Lucan's Richard O'Donovan headed the field at the conclusion of the second day's play at the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Co Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point yesterday.

The Irish international carded a four-under-par 67 to add to his opening round of 71 (138 overall).

"I played well. We had good weather this morning. I had a couple of early birdies and was three-under for the back nine,'' said O'Donovan.

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ATHLETICS: Fionnuala Britton came agonisingly close to securing the Olympic 'A' standard time when she ran a personal best of 15.28.22 in the 5,000m at the Stanford Invite on Friday night.

The Wicklow athlete, who is in the form of her life, was just eight seconds shy of qualifying for London.

Britton has until July to get the time, but if she doesn't it will surely reopen the debate on the merit of sending 'B' standard athletes to the Olympic Games. Britton's time from Friday night is well inside the 'B' standard requirement of 15.30.

Britton is expected to return to the same Stanford track in two weeks to target the 31:45 mark for the 10,000m.

Alistair Cragg was also in action at the meeting, finishing sixth in the 1,500m and fourth in the 5,000m.

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rugby: Dungannon remain in the All-Ireland League Division 1B promotion chase after a bonus-point victory over lowly Galwegians at Stevenson Park.

The Co Tyrone team have now moved up to second position, one point behind Belfast Harlequins, and have opened up a three-point advantage over third-place Bohemians while Buccaneers are a further two points adrift.

Dungannon took a 22-0 interval advantage, but Galwegians came back in the final quarter and reduced the arrears before home pressure around their opponents' line in the dying minutes led to a penalty try.

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gaelic games: Another of the weaker hurling counties has been thrown into turmoil with Monaghan manager Mattie Lennon quitting and his players threatening not to play in a league final next Sunday.

Lennon quit on Friday night in a row over club fixtures and the players have vowed to support him.

Lennon was angry with a decision by the Monaghan County Board to schedule a full round of club football league games for next Wednesday, although some were being brought forward to tomorrow.

The Armagh native, who has 12 dual players in his squad, wanted seven days clearance ahead of their NHL Division 3A final against Fingal at Tullamore next Sunday.

Lennon was not available for comment yesterday, but county board secretary Sean McKenna confirmed that Lennon, who is in his first season in charge, had resigned.

"He has resigned from his position," said McKenna. "The position of manager will be addressed over the next 48 hours.''

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cricket: England won the second Test against Sri Lanka in some style when man-of-the-match Kevin Pietersen smashed Tillakaratne Dilshan for six over mid wicket to complete an eight-wicket victory on the fifth and final day in Colombo yesterday.

Pietersen followed his momentum-swinging first innings knock of 151 with an unbeaten 42 off 28 balls, including two sixes and four fours as England raced to their target of 94 inside 20 overs.

Sri Lanka, resuming at 218 for six, added 60 runs for their remaining four wickets, two falling to Swann with Samit Patel and Steven Finn picking up one apiece.

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Ireland fast bowler Boyd Rankin has been hit by an injury just as the English county season gets under way. The 27-year-old will miss the first six weeks of the season with a stress reaction in his right foot.

Rankin played in all of Ireland's 11 games in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Dubai last month.

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Horse racing: Brian Ellison enjoyed a bumper pay-day when winning two big Betfair-sponsored prizes with cast-offs Sound Accord and Hada Men at Haydock.

The North Yorkshire trainer picked up the pair for less than £8,000 and was rewarded several times over.

Both finals in their respective series were worth £32,490 to the winner, and Ellison also picked up place money in both as he saddled a total of nine horses in the two races.

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rowing: The Boat Race was brought to a dramatic halt yesterday after a protester swam into the path of the Oxford and Cambridge crews and narrowly avoided being struck by a blade.

A man in a wetsuit was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence after being pulled from the River Thames and taken away by police.

The race was restarted half an hour later, but the unprecedented incident triggered a dramatic chain of events which led to a hollow Cambridge victory.

A clash of oars shortly after the restart led to Oxford's six man Dr Hanno Wienhausen suffering a snapped blade.

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