Friday 24 November 2017

In brief: Hamilton will bide his time

FORMULA 1: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is confident Red Bull will be overhauled at some point this season but admits it could be "several races" before it might happen.

Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button yesterday trailed the in-form Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for today's Chinese Grand Prix -- as the world champion wrapped up the 18th pole of his career.

The young German has largely had everything his own way in 2011 yet McLaren are just tenths of a second behind and leading the chasing pack.

Come the end of this weekend's race in Shanghai it will be time for F1 to return to its European heartland, where traditionally the speed of development moves up a gear.

And Hamilton, who qualified third in Shanghai, just behind Button, has warned the race to develop the cars off the track will soon become just as frenetic as the action on it.

"It's encouraging for us to have been on the first and second row for the first three races, considering where we were in winter testing," said Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg took fourth place for Mercedes, while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth.

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RUGBY: Garryowen secured their All-Ireland League Division 1A status for next season thanks to a deserved 23-9 play-off victory over Buccaneers at Dooradoyle yesterday.

A brace of second-half tries from star performers James Rael and Paul Neville, proved crucial to the light blues' success. Buccaneers, who secured a play-off place by virtue of their third-place finish in 1B, enjoyed a precious 9-6 half-time lead.

Scrumhalf David Connellan landed three penalty goals for the visitors, while centre Alan Gaughan kicked two for the Limerick side. However, once hooker Rael burrowed over for the game's opening try six minutes after the restart, Garryowen had the upperhand.

Flanker Neville's try mid-way through the half gave the home side breathing space and a third penalty goal from Gaughan with less than 10 minutes left ensured Garryowen their top-flight status.

Meanwhile, it was a great afternoon for Ulster rugby as Ballynahinch clinched the Division Two title which meant they, along with Ballymena and Belfast Harlequins, have secured three of the four automatic promotion places with UCD also moving up..

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Handball: The reigning champion Paul Brady goes head-to-head with Armagh's Charly Shanks in today's All-Ireland senior singles final at Abbeylara.

In a rematch of last year's thrilling final, the Cavan man is looking for his eighth title, which would see him surpass the record of Kilkenny's Michael 'Ducksy' Walsh. The Kilkenny legend thinks it will be a "cracking game", but says: "you would give Paul the nod".

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ATHLETICS: Three Irishmen were yesterday elected to the European Athletics Association at their Annual Congress in London. Athletics Ireland President Liam Hennessy was elected to the European Council -- the first Irishman since Al Guy. Former EAA Press Officer Pierce O'Callaghan was voted on to the Competitions Committee, while Nick Davis, who has a long association with athletics administration in Ireland, was re-elected to the Development Committee.

Meanwhile, two Irish marathon runners will be aiming to achieve the qualifying time for the London Olympics by running a time of 2:15 or better. Mark Kenneally is first up when he runs in the Vienna City marathon today, while tomorrow it will be the turn of Alistair Cragg, who is competing in the Boston marathon.

This will be the first time for both athletes to attempt the race, with Cragg confident of building on his recent record run in the New York half-marathon. "I have not missed a step of training since that race," said Cragg yesterday.

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GAELIC GAMES: A sparkling display from Westmeath's top-scorer Ray Aughey and Barry O'Meara saw off a brave Warwickshire by 5-17 to 1-12 in the Leinster JHC Shield at Mullingar yesterday.

Trailing by 2-10 to 0-5 at half-time, the hosts were always in control and added further goals from Aughey, O'Meara and substitute James White to run out comfortable winners. Substitute Seamus Brough scored a consolation goal for the Exiles five minutes from time.

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HOCKEY: Monkstown and Cookstown are through to the final of the Men's Irish Senior Cup -- while the Women's final will see Hermes and Pegasus renewing their old rivalry, after their semi-final wins yesterday.

Monkstown, who last won this trophy in 1914, will be hoping to bridge that gap when they take on the Northern side this afternoon. Monkstown were in complete control over Banbridge yesterday -- leading 1-0 at the break through Gareth Watkins and wrapping the game up with a goal each from Richard Sykes and Andrew Ward.

Cookstown beat Annadale 3-2 in the second semi-final. Stuart Smyth (2) and Mark Crooks gave Cookstown a 3-0 lead at half-time, before Annadale hit back with goals from Peter Caruth and Andrew Williamson, but in the end it was not enough.

Pegasus and Hermes managed to come through against UCD and Ballymoney. A goal by Vanessa Surgeoner after 15 minutes gave Pegasus precious victory against a hard-working UCD side.

Meanwhile, Hermes had to also battle hard against Ballymoney, taking the lead with a penalty stroke-goal from Kerry McComish, before Deirdre Duke chipped in with their second 15 minutes after the break.

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tennis: Spaniards Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer will lock horns again in the Monte Carlo Masters final after their semi-final wins yesterday.

World No 1 Nadal, who lost to Ferrer at the Australian Open, was pushed hard by injury-hit third seed Andy Murray but won 6-4 2-6 6-1 in a less than vintage display. Fourth seed Ferrer roared back from a shaky start for a 6-3 6-2 win over Roger Federer's quarter-final conqueror Juergen Melzer of Austria.

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