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In brief: Lame Pady out of Cheltenham

RACING: Forpadydeplasterer has been ruled out of next month's Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

The Tom Cooper-trained eight-year-old is reportedly lame, and would therefore miss crucial work in the build-up to the Festival. He is now instead likely to be aimed at the Punchestown Festival in April.

Meanwhile, Tony McCoy will ride Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 19. McCoy received the call-up to partner the brilliant chaser because Ruby Walsh, Paul Nicholls's first-choice rider, has remained loyal to stablemate Kauto Star.

Heffernan defends title

ATHLETICS:Robert Heffernan displayed his many talents to retain his men's 5k Walk title at the Irish Indoor Championships, in a time of 19 minutes 24.64 seconds, just over a second slower than his winning time of last year.

The Corkman (31) won by 23 seconds from Colin Griffin with Jamie Costin just over a second further adrift in 19:48.73. "I decided to lead from the gun because I did not want to rely on speed as I had done some very heavy training over the past few weeks," said Heffernan.

Suzanne Malikova, a Czech residing in Waterford, won the women's 3k Walk in 12:36.50. Last year's winner Laura Reynolds came through to finish second with Kate Veale third.

Kieran's coast into last four

Gaelic Games: A near-perfect first-half display, in which they shot 3-11 without recording a single wide, saw St Kieran's College, Kilkenny dethrone reigning Leinster Colleges SHC 'A' champions, Good Counsel, New Ross at the Eire Og grounds in Carlow yesterday, the final score 3-18 to 1-8.

The Kilkenny college was superior in all aspects of play, moving the ball at pace and picking off some superb scores. A total of 3-13 of their tally came from play.

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Kieran's left full-forward Thomas O'Hanrahan swooped for goals in the 13th and 16th minutes. Although Counsel right full-forward David Crowdle nipped inside the Kieran's backs for a fine goal on 20 minutes, the very impressive Padraig Walsh responded with a speculative shot from 45m which went all the way to the net on 26 minutes.

Kieran's led 3-13 to 1-3 at half-time and simply coasted through to the semi-final in the second half.

Hamilton nabs golden goal

HOCKEY: The men's Irish Senior Cup progressed a stage further yesterday with two all-Ulster second-round ties decided in favour of Annadale and Banbridge, both advancing to the quarter-finals.

Both sides needed golden goals to go through: Ross McCandless notched Banbridge's winner over Instonians for a 3-2 margin, and Ian Hamilton edged out Mossley 4-3 with his effort.

Leinster league leaders Corinthian scored a 4-1 win over UCD in the only Division One fixture yesterday, with South African Darren Kimfley bagging a hat trick. The win moves Corinthian four points clear of champions Pembroke Wanderers, who have two matches in hand.

McHale takes overnight lead

MOTORSPORT: Gareth MacHale and co-driver Brian Murphy in their Ford Focus WRC were the overnight leaders in the Safety Direct Galway International Rally, with a 68-second advantage after the opening nine stages.

For the first half of the day, they took turns with Tim McNulty to hold top place, but the Meath driver clipped a rock on stage 6, costing a minute and dropping his Impreza behind the Ford Fiesta S2000 of Craig Breen from Kilkenny.

Gutsy Niland exits in semis

Tennis: Ireland's Conor Niland yesterday turned in a tremendously gutsy performance but still bowed out in the semi-finals of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Kazan, Russia.

Unseeded Niland can take some consolation that he forced his opponent, Julian Reister, the top seed, to remain on court for three-and-a-half hours before the German player clinched a place in today's decider.

The 23-year-old from Hamburg, who had dropped only a total of 11 games in his three previous contests in the tournament, broke Niland's serve once in the second and third sets before going on to prevail on a 6-7 (11-13) 6-4 6-4 scoreline.

Wong edges Eagles closer

Basketball: UL Eagles are just one game away from claiming the Southern Conference title after recording their 13th win out of 14 in the UL arena last night.

Their 87-75 win over UCD Marian came courtesy of a 27-8 first-quarter blowout, with their American Glen Wong shooting 18 points from the outside.

DCU Saints, meanwhile, failed to close the gap on second-place Star in the Northern Conference as they fell 60-69 to Neptune.

Harrington bows out early

golf: Five second-round bogeys were to prove costly for Padraig Harrington in California as he missed the cut in the Northern Trust Open.

Harrington's 73 was to prove two shots too expensive. American Dustin Johnson, with a second round of 67, led by one shot at 12-under at the halfway stage.

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