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In brief: Irish duo share lead in Spain

GOLF: Ireland's Graeme McDowell shares the lead at the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama with compatriot Gareth Maybin on six-under after the Ryder Cup hero saw a two-stroke advantage evaporate with a double-bogey on the last hole.

McDowell, whose 67 on Friday took him to seven-under par -- two shots clear -- also had a double-bogey at the seventh to fall into a share of the lead with Maybin, before a timely birdie at the next lifted the US Open champion back ahead.

Maybin, seeking his first European Tour win, hit back with a birdie on the ninth only for McDowell to regain the lead until his mistake on the 18th. McDowell finished with a 72, Maybin with a 70.

A third Irishman, Damien McGrane, is tied for third place on two-under alongside Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, following a round of 70.

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer's hopes of ending Tiger Woods' 281-week reign as world No 1 remain remote heading into the final day as the German carded a 70 to lie three-over for the tournament, nine shots off the pace.

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Colm Moriarty of Team Ireland fired two birdies on the last four holes but it proved insufficient at the Apulia San Domenico Grand final in Italy as the Athlone man carded three consecutive bogeys -- on holes 12, 13 and 14 -- to finish on level par yesterday.

Matt Haines of England captured his debut Challenge Tour title on a dramatic day which saw Spaniard Alvaro Velasco succeed Italian Edoardo Molinari to lead the Tour rankings. Haines, who only turned professional last year and has relied largely on sponsors' invitations to compete on the Challenge Tour this season, closed with a 66 to edge out overnight leader Daniel Gaunt of Australia by a single stroke and secure second place in the rankings behind Velasco.

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ROWING: Six Irish athletes have made the long journey to New Zealand to take part in the world championships, which get under way today on Lake Karapiro.

The mixed coxed foursome includes newcomer Anne-Marie McDaid at bow, with the experienced Shane Ryan, Kevin du Toit, Sarah Caffrey in the stern of the boat, and Helen Arbuthnot as cox. In the single scull, Karol Doherty will look to improve on the eighth place he took on Lake Bled in May.

Meanwhile, Coleraine-born Alan Campbell continues to impress on the world stage in the men's single scull. Competing for Great Britain, Campbell took silver at last year's world championships but will first have to get past New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale to go one better and achieve gold.

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SHINTY-HURLING: Scotland took the honours in the senior shinty-hurling international under the Croke Park floodlights last night, narrowing defeating Ireland 2-16 to 2-15. Scotland led 2-7 to 2-5 at half-time, with Shane Dooley netting both of Ireland's goals.

It was nip and tuck during a keenly-contested second half, with Ireland overcoming a six-point deficit, but despite their superior fitness, Scotland held out for victory.

Meanwhile, a hat-trick of third-quarter goals paved the way for Ireland to overcome Scotland 3-6 to 1-3 in the under 21 international in Ratoath. Scotland led by 1-0 to 0-2 at half-time, with Tom Whyte netting their goal, but an improved second half ensured Laois' Eoin Reilly lifted silverware after the game.

Prior to the under 21 clash yesterday was the camogie-shinty international, where Ireland retained their title following an emphatic 6-9 to 2-2 victory over Scotland.

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BASKETBALL: Moycullen continued their Indian sign over Ulster Elks with a 75-65 win to open their Superleague account at the Kingfisher gym last night.

The return of James Loughnane gave Moycullen an extra option in the guard position. They contained Kevin Foley to single figures in first half, and took the third quarter 16-6, with Cian Nihill shooting eight points as they effectively put the game out of Elks' reach.

Neptune, meanwhile, accounted for UL Eagles, with a hat-trick of three-pointers from Gary Walsh helping Pat Price's men into a 47-33 lead at the break. UL had managed to cut the lead to five by the end of the third, but with Michael Bonaparte keeping Eagles' big American Cameron Mitchell to just 14 points, Neptune pulled away once more to win out 88-78.

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HOCKEY: YMCA moved to the top of the Division 1 in Leinster men's hockey yesterday, coasting to 5-0 victory over hapless visitors Fingal, with Jamie Tobin twice on target.

YM displaced leaders Glenanne, who earlier in the day drew 2-2 against Polish side Grunwald Poznan in the Euro Hockey League in Terrassa, Spain. The Glens will advance to the last 16 should the Poles lose to their German opponents today.

Elsewhere, league champions Pembroke Wanderers saw off Monkstown 3-2, while Railway Union drew 2-2 away to Three Rock Rovers.

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EQUESTRIAN: Tipperary's Denis Lynch took fifth place in the big World Cup show in Lyon yesterday with a double clear round on Thomas Straumann's 10-year-old gelding Abbervail van het Dingeshof.

Lynch, 34, was one of 11 riders through to the jump-off at the five-star venue from a starting field of 41, but in a closely-fought finish the Equida trophy and e15,000 went to Germany's Daniel Deusser and the Canabis Z gelding Cabreados SE.

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TENNIS: Conor Niland's failure to sustain the promise of his second-set performance cost the Irish No 1 his chances of victory in yesterday's first round qualifying clash with the USA's Michael Russell in the ATP Tour event in Valencia.

After losing a marathon opening set lasting 70 minutes, Niland stormed back to drop only two games after breaking Russell twice to level at one set all. But Russell, who was ranked at 60 in May 2007, regained the initiative in the decider and secured a place in the second round of qualifying on a 7-6 (7/5) 2-6 6-2 scoreline.

Sunday Independent