Wednesday 24 January 2018

In Brief: McNamara leads in 'West'

Golf: Headfort's Rory McNamara captured the silver medal awarded to the leading qualifier but four players must return to Rosses Point to complete the weather-delayed second qualifying round of the West of Ireland Amateur championship at dawn today.

Play was suspended because of lack of light following early-morning frost that delayed the start by 90 minutes and with groups taking in excess of five hours to get round, the last two groups were on the 17th and 18th tees when play was called in for the day.

Damien McCusker and Colm O'Sullivan opted to withdraw rather that return which means that while the players on 158 will qualify the today's first matchplay round, the performances of Co Castlebar's Declan Loftus (18th tee), and Royal Dublin's Gary McGrane (17th tee) could decide the fate of the players in the clubhouse on 17 over 159.

Moate's Paul Coughlan (17th) and County Sligo's Steffan O'Hara (18th) look certain to qualify with ease while McGrane can afford to play his last two holes in one over to qualify on 158. Two bogeys would put him out on 159.

North of Ireland champion McNamara added a 70 to his opening 74 to finish a stroke ahead of Delgany's Simon Bryan (71) on two over 144.

After the carnage of Friday, when just 42 players in the 123-strong field broke 80, there was a radical improvement in scoring as five tees were moved forward and the wind eased considerably.

Irish Amateur Open champion Gavin Moynihan, of The Island, shot 71 for 146 while Dermot McElroy and McNamara's Headfort clubmate Brian Casey fired best-of-the-day, three-under 68s to share fourth with Co Sligo's Gary McDermott (74) on six over 148.

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Three late bogeys spoiled Rory McIlroy's third round as he moved to two under par at the Houston Open. The Northern Irishman, who started the day on one under, nine shots adrift of leader Steve Wheatcroft, birdied three of the first eight holes.

A fourth birdie followed on the 12th as the World No 2 reached five under. But then on the 13th the young Ulsterman stood over a five-foot putt to take him to five-under for the day, six-under for the round and right into contention – but three-putted.

And then he proceeded to drop two more shots to return to two-under and rejoin the also-rans after posting a 71. McIlroy's schedule switch, a late entry to this week's Texas Open in preparation for the Masters, was thus vindicated.

"I hit the ball really well – it's the best I've hit it this week,'' said McIlroy. "So I take a lot of positives from it. Obviously the finish wasn't what I wanted, but that was down to some silly mistakes from rustiness. With a little more competitive play, I'll eradicate that.''

Americans Stewart Cink and Bill Haas share the lead on 11 under 205 after third rounds of 68 and 67 respectively.

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Marcel Siem remains on course to lift the Hassan II Trophy after increasing his lead to four shots at the end of the third round in Agadir.

Siem needs victory at the Golf du Palais Royal to have any chance of breaking into the world's top 50 ahead of the qualification cut-off for The Masters and he will take a formidable advantage into the final day.

The German, three clear overnight, overcame a nervy start to card a three-under-par 69 to move to 15 under overall and leave closest challengers David Horsey, Mikko Ilonen and Pablo Larrazabal trailing in his wake.

Michael Hoey, the only Irishman to make the cut, shot a third round 74 to stand a whopping 16 shots in arrears.

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Cycling: Timmy Barry, from the powerful Aquablue squad, led home a break of five in a fast sprint to take stage two of the Ras Mumhan, which took in the Kenmare circuit including the Beara Peninsula and Healy Pass. Dutchman Dennis Bakker was second with the aggressive Con Collis (UCD) third.

Overall leader, Harry Sweering of West Fresia, finished fourth. Today's action moves to South Kerry with a 142km stage that starts and ends in Waterville. The race finishes tomorrow in Killorglin.

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Equestrian: Ireland's Cameron Hanley took his first international showjumping victory after almost two years absence caused by a freak accident to his knee which resulted in 17 operations.

Riding the 10-year-old gelding Player du Quesnoy, Hanley took victory in the 1m35 jump-off in Arezzo, Italy, finishing with a seventh of a second in hand over Italian Luca Maria Moneta and Bonheur S. Hanley also took eighth in the 1m45 speed class with Antello Z.

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Gaelic games: St Augustine's, Dungarvan scored a goal and a point in injury time to snatch a dramatice 2-8 to 0-10 victory over Scoile Mhuire, Strokestown in the All-Ireland Colleges' SFC 'C' final.

Tadhg Bourke's 61st minute point gave the Dungarvan school the lead for the first time. Seconds later substitute Michael Sweeney calmly blasted to the net as Scoil Mhuire went in search of an equaliser.

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Hockey: Catholic Institute from Limerick made sure of a place in next season's Irish Hockey League with a 3-1

win over UCC yesterday with two goals from Naomi Carroll and the other from former international captain Eimear Cregan.

UCC, however, are not out of the hunt with three places still to be filled in the 12-team event. The students now go into the IHL qualifiers, with Old Alexandra, Ards and Queen's University.

Irish Independent

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