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In brief: Harrington set to end drought

GOLF: An injured Padraig Harrington was left complaining of not snatching an eight-stroke lead instead of being five in front heading to the final round of the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia, writes Bernie McGuire.

Harrington is set to end a two-year winless drought after shooting a four-under-par third-round 68 for a 17-under-par tally. The world No 22 tweaked a muscle in his neck during practice and said after his round that he would have withdrawn from the event had he not been leading.

Harrington put the concern aside to storm eight shots ahead of the field after just 12 holes. But he then missed a short birdie putt at the 16th hole before three-putting 17.

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David Higgins sped past the winning post in style yesterday as the season-long Race to Mount Juliet ended. The Kerryman produced a finishing burst at the Thomastown course in Kilkenny with a sizzling seven-under-par 65 to leave his rivals trailing.

He began the last tournament ahead of David Mortimer and Damian Mooney at the top of the Order of Merit list with little between the trio. However, PGA Irish champion Mortimer had a completely off-day as he fell to a 78 but Mooney kept in the winner's slip stream to finish second, four shots behind.

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MOTORSPORT: The Northern Ireland team pulled off a narrow win in the Ken Wharton Memorial International Autotest in Warwickshire, beating the Republic of Ireland's quartet by 4.3 seconds.

Dubliner Eddie Peterson's Mini Special stopped during the second of eight tests when its gear lever pulled out, costing him a 20-second fail penalty, and the North were 35 seconds ahead after three tests.

However, the Motorsport Ireland team of Peterson, Eamonn Byrne, Simon Echlin and David Thompson fought back strongly and were only 11 seconds down starting the final test, reducing it to 4.3 seconds by the finish.

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ATHLETICS: Zersenay Tadese yesterday missed out on an unprecedented fifth consecutive world half-marathon title in Nanning, China.

Tadese, who set a new world record over the distance in March this year, was beaten into second place by Kenya's Wilson Kiprop.

Kiprop, who only made his half-marathon debut in France in September, edged ahead of Tadese in the final few metres, with the Eritrean conceding defeat and limping across the line. Kiprop recorded a time of one hour and seven seconds, with Tadese four seconds adrift and Kenya's Sammy Kirop Kitwara a further 11 seconds back in third. With three of the top four finishers, Kenya comfortably won the team competition ahead of Eritrea, with Ethiopia third.

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HOCKEY: The main attraction in the Leinster Division 1 campaign yesterday featured the clash of table-toppers Glenanne and Monkstown at Tallaght. And there was no shortage of goals with the home side Glenanne the victors in a 7-4 thriller.

Corinthian had to settle for a 1-1 draw with visitors Railway Union. UCD came from 2-1 down at half-time to draw 3-3 with visitors Three Rock Rovers.

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GAELIC GAMES: Portumna's stranglehold on the Galway SHC was brought to an end by Loughrea at Athenry yesterday as the three-in-a-row champions were beaten 1-16 to 1-14 in attempting to reach their eighth county final in succession.

Loughrea held Portumna scoreless from the 24th minute of the opening half until 11 minutes from the end, during which time Loughrea hit 0-7 to add to Johnny O'Loughlin's goal after 23 minutes. Portumna lost Eoin Lynch to a second yellow card and they were unable to haul back the 2006 champions, with Andy Smith hitting a long-range goal at the death.

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Conor Gormley inspired Carrickmore to a narrow 0-9 to 0-8 win over Omagh in yesterday's Tyrone SFC semi-final replay. His side trailed by four points at half time, but conceded just one in the second half as they completed a rousing comeback with Barry Daly's winning point.

Omagh led 0-7 to 0-3 at the break but Carrickmore dug deep after the break, though, with scores from Brendan McLaughlin, Kevin McNally and Gormley, who also unselfishly fed Daly for the stoppage-time winner.

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A STRONG final-quarter scoring burst saw St Finbarr's reach their second successive Cork SFC final with a 1-11 to 0-8 victory over Carbery Rangers at Páirc Uí Rinn last night.

Cathal McCarthy's goal in the sixth minute was the difference between the sides in the first half, the end of which the Barrs led by 1-3 to 0-4, but the west Cork club came back at their opponents.

They tied the game, 1-4 to 0-7, after a good Kevin MacMahon point, but five unanswered points from the Barrs gave them a cushion and set them up for a final meeting with Nemo Rangers.

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BASKETBALL: Last season's Southern Conference champions UL Eagles made it two from two with their 6'7" inside man Cameron Mitchell topping the stats in both the rebounding and scoring stakes-- with 25 points and 13 rebounds -- as UL defeated DCU Saints 77-61.

Star, who are still waiting on clearance for their new American Clayton Longmire, lost heavily to Killester as the Cup champions charged out of the blocks to open up an unassailable lead, with Jermaine Turner and Peter Madsen very much to the fore.

The other game last night saw Demons come away from the Kingfisher gym with a 88-83 win over Moycullen.

Demons ate into a 17 pt Moycullen lead after the break with Shane Coughlan hitting a series of three pointers before Niall O'Reilly and Kyle Hosford sealed victory in the final minute for the Cork side.

Sunday Independent