Friday 15 December 2017

In brief: Keatley late show sees off Georgia

Emerging Ireland came through a tough test of their IRB Tbilisi Cup credentials as two late Ian Keatley penalties guided them to a 20-15 victory over hosts Georgia.

The Georgians led 15-14 entering the closing stages at Avchala Stadium, but Giorgi Nemsadze's sin-binning was crucial as Keatley kicked the Irish to first-round success.

In the first half, Allen Clarke's young side lost their early 6-0 lead, leaking tries to Giorgi Chkhaidze and Tamaz Mchedlidze as Georgia put in a determined display in front of their vocal home support.

Emerging Ireland were four points behind at the half-time but went ahead within three minutes of the restart with Michael Heaney scooping a long pass wide for David Kearney to slip in between two covering forwards and score in the left corner.

A deliberate block by Toulon's Kote Mikautadze on the advancing Kearney gave Keatley the chance to kick the Irish 14-10 ahead nearing the hour mark.

The Georgians, with 10 of their starting line-up playing their club rugby in France, grabbed a timely third try which temporarily handed them the lead before it was eclipsed by on-form Keatley, who converted five from seven attempts in all.

IRELAND – D Kearney; N Morris, E Griffin (B Macken 67), M Allen (N Reid 50), T O'Halloran; I Keatley, M Heaney (J Cooney 53); J McGrath, R Herring (N Annett 73), M Bent (R Lutton 80+3); L Stevenson (I Nagle 50), D Foley; R Ruddock (capt), D Ryan )J Murphy 67), R Diack.

GOLF: Ballymena's Dermot McElroy followed up his excellent display in the Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship last weekend with a solid start in the St Andrews Links Trophy tournament, WRITES CHRIS SMART.

The 20-year-old former Irish boys champion fired an opening one-over-par 73 on the Jubilee Course to keep himself well in contention despite a disastrous triple-bogey seven on the 10th where he flirted with the rubbish and sand.

Lucan's Richard Donovan bogeyed three of the last four holes to finish on 75.

BOXING: KATIE TAYLOR continued her preparations for next month's EU Championships with sparring sessions against two Germans at the National Stadium in Dublin.

The Olympic champion, who sparred with Cindy Rogge on Wednesday at the Stadium, sparred with Tasheena Bugen and Andrea Strohmaier. However, no scores were kept.

The German women's team are in Dublin for a training camp with Ireland.

The IABA have named a Senior, Youth and Junior side for the EU Championships.

Taylor will be aiming for her fifth successive EU lightweight title in Hungary.

The 10-point must scoring system will be in operation at the Championships.

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