Saturday 18 November 2017

In brief: In-form O'Rourke secures UK title

Athletics

DERVAL O'ROURKE produced a seasonal best of 8.11 seconds in winning the UK Indoor 60m hurdles title at Sheffield yesterday.

Kelly Proper also successfully defended her long-jump title with a leap of 6.48m.

Britain's AAA Championships always double up as the UK trials for the World Indoors but Hazel Murphy (DSD) got herself on the Irish team for Doha next month by winning the 3,000m in a PB of 9:02.81.

Deirdre Byrne (Sli Chualann) finished in seventh in 9:22.61 but she had already qualified.

Clare Brady (Celbridge), another who has already qualified for Qatar, was fourth in the 60m final in 7.40secs, with Ferrybank's Niamh Whelan fifth in 7.52secs. Ailis McSweeney (Leevale), who had run 7.50secs in the semis, was disqualified for a false start. Whelan was also third in the 200m in a PB of 23.86secs.

David McCarthy (Le Cheile), the only Irish male athlete so far qualified for Doha, won an 800m in Valencia yesterday in 1:49.57.

Elsewhere Colin Quirke (Crusaders) broke 17m for the first time and improved his recent Irish U-23 shot-putt record with a 17.56m throw in Arkansas.

Equestrian

Darragh Kenny secured a spot at the World Cup finals in April, thanks to a third-place finish in Saturday's qualifier at Wellington, Florida.

The 21-year-old from Belmont, Offaly, previously won the qualifyiers at Green Cove Springs in Florida and at Syracuse, New York and now lies top of the US East Coast League table.

Kenny was unlucky not to make it a hat-trick of World Cup victories when putting in the fastest time in Saturday's six-horse jump-off with Trade Wind Farms' Dutch-bred 14-year-old gelding Obelix. He was almost two full seconds quicker than winner Pablo Barrios, but hit the penultimate vertical for four faults. US-based Corkman Shane Sweetnam slotted into fourth with Rolette.

Swimming

Andrew Bree is sure he can take his performances to another level after moving from his base at the University of Tennessee to California where he is now working with highly-regarded coach Dave Salo.

Bree, from Co Down, spent eight years at Tennessee, claiming a 200m breaststroke silver medal at the European short course championships as well as chalking two fifth places at the Commonwealths, and 11th place at the Beijing Olympics.

"My whole swimming outlook changed when I went to Tennessee but the time had come to move on and I'm very grateful that Dave Salo has taken me on," he said.

Hockey

Three Rock Rovers are making every effort to persuade star forward Peter Blakeney to delay his imminent departure for Italy.

Blakeney slotted home the winning penalty stroke in the shoot-out against Cookstown to book Rovers' place in the last eight of the Irish Senior Cup.

But he is due to take up a professional contract with Roma and there was confusion at the weekend as to whether he will be around for the quarter-final against Lisnagarvey on February 27.

Three Rock fielded eight teenagers in their panel of 16, and 18-year-old keeper Stephen West was the pick of the young bunch, pulling off an inspired second-half save from Keith Black before the match was decided by penalties.

Basketball

UL Eagles will have to wait for at least another week to be crowned Southern Conference regular-season champions after they were stunned by Ulster Elks in the Men's Superleague yesterday.

The Northerners managed to bring a pulsating contest into overtime thanks to the great endeavour of Dave Neal, before Paul Cummins became the hero with a lay-up in the closing moments.

Killester, meanwhile, are well on the way to securing the Northern Conference following a commanding 89-64 win over UCD/Marian.

Irish Independent

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