In brief: Fighting Irish fall to Sri Lanka
AN experimental Ireland team produced a spirited performance against Sri Lanka 'A' in Colombo yesterday before losing their final match of a Twenty20 quadrangular tournament by five wickets.
Coach Phil Simmons continued to ring the changes ahead of next week's T20 World Cup qualifiers and a side lacking the experience of Trent Johnston, Andre Botha and William Porterfield did well to post a competitive 174-6.
But Simmons will be concerned that with only one more warm-up match to play before the qualifiers begin in Dubai on Tuesday, his attack was again found lacking as the hosts eased to a third win with 10 balls to spare.
Only Nigel Jones managed to concede less than one run per ball and the spin pair of George Dockrell and Gary Kidd disappeared for 46 from a combined four overs.
IRELAND'S Conor Niland was always in pole position as he scaled the heights against Sergei Bubka in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Kazan, Russia.
Bubka, who played in the 2008 Davis Cup contest against Ireland in Dublin, had entered yesterday's second-round contest as the favourite, after dumping out Russia's No 4 seed Alexandre Kudryavtsev in the first round.
But Niland was generally the more aggressive and composed player against his Monaco-based opponent and a break of serve in each set saw him through to the quarter-finals on a 6-3 6-3 scoreline.
The Republic of Ireland U-16s drew 0-0 with Italy in their opening game of Albufeira Four Nations tournament.
After a slow start on the bumpy pitch, Ireland's first effort on goal came after 12 minutes, the excellent Kealan Dillon's 25-yard shot tipped over by Italy 'keeper Matteo Ricci.
As the floodlights flickered into life at the start of the second half so did the Italians. The best chance of the game fell to Federico Maccarone, whose 52nd-minute header was tipped onto the bar by Joe Coll.
Ireland play Portugal tomorrow morning, and take on the Netherlands in the final game on Monday.
IRELAND -- J Coll; E Hyland, B Garmston, J Smith (capt), S Smith; K McEvoy, M Drennan, K Dillon, L Gallagher; C Tiofack (J Murphy, 60), P Roberts ( B Miele, 70).
Niko Eeckhout of the An Post/Sean Kelly Team remains to the fore of the five-day Etoile de Besseges after finishing third in stage two 141km-leg from Nimes to St Ambroix.
Slovenian Borut Bozic leads the general classification after making it two stage wins out of two and leads from second-placed Eeckhout by 10 seconds. "Niko is up for it and come Sunday we could be celebrating," team manager Kurt Boegarts said.
All three Irish participants in the event -- Nicolas Roche, Conor McConvey and Paidi O'Brien -- came home in the main group on the same time as the winner and are off the pace by 20 seconds overall.