Wednesday 24 January 2018

In brief: McNulty and Kiely on road to success

Motorsport

Tim McNulty and Paul Kiely scored their second major victory this month by winning yesterday's opening round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship.

Their Impreza WRC led from start to finish, ending the nine stages a commanding 59 seconds clear of defending champions Melvyn Evans and Patrick Walsh, with Colm Murphy and Don Montgomery more than two minutes behind in third.

Enniskerry's Danny Barry headed a trio of Irish drivers in fifth, sixth and seventh places in the opening round of the British Rally Championship. Barry was followed by Jonny Greer and Rob Barrable. Waterford's Craig Breen finished third in his class despite losing time due to overheating problems on his Fiesta R2.

Equestrian

Denis Lynch, Billy Twomey and Shane Carey produced good results at the 5-Star World Cup fixture in Gothenburg over the weekend, but it was Tipperary man Shane Breen who produced the only Grand Prix victory at the 2-Star event in Comporta, Portugal, yesterday.

Riding Warrenstown You 2, Breen claimed the €4,600 winner's purse with a two-second advantage over runner-up Antonio Vozone.

Lynch was the sole Irish rider to qualify for yesterday's World Cup jump-off in Gothenburg. Carey was unlucky to have the last fence down in Saturday's Grand Prix with Steen Bondgaard's promising gelding Lancero, and yesterday went out of contention in the World Cup class with three fences on the floor. Twomey had a prime draw three from the end of the first round, but, surprisingly, picked up eight faults with Tinka's Serenade.

Meanwhile at Wellington in Florida, Shane Sweetnam added seventh place riding Amaretto Darco in yesterday's Grand Prix to his win in the 1.45m Grand Prix earlier last week riding Little Emir.

Tennis

IRELAND Davis Cup boss Garry Cahill received a boost yesterday when Conor Niland confirmed his fitness for next weekend's clash with Luxembourg at David Lloyd Riverview. Niland has only recently recovered from a chest infection and a bout of flu, but he managed to play a set in a practice match against Sweden's former world No 1 Magnus Gustafsson.

The Limerick man won the set 6-2, and for the second set Niland's Davis Cup team-mate James McGee faced Gustafsson, and prevailed 6-3. Colin O'Brien did not take part because of a wrist injury, but Cahill is confident the Malahide left-hander will be fit to face Luxembourg, who will be anchored by current world No 93 Gilles Muller.

In O'Brien's absence, Ireland team practice partner Barry King faced Xander Spong, who won 10-7 in a champions tie-break after the first two sets had been shared.

Basketball

Killester, UL Eagles and DCU Saints all booked their places in the Superleague play-offs over the weekend.

Killester cruised to a 103-75 win over UCC Demons, while their fellow northsiders were inspired by Clayton Longmire who notched 26 of their points in a 74-70 win.

UL secured their place with a 96-60 hammering of Ulster Elks, but Neptune will have to wait a week to secure a place despite their 85-77 win over Moycullen --Dylan Cunningham scoring 28 points.

In the Women's Superleague, UL sealed the regular-season crown with a 95-47 demolition of Killester, while Waterford Wildcats ended a month-long wait for a win by beating Meteors 52-43.

Hockey

Battling Monkstown maintained a southern presence in the Irish Senior Cup as Ulster continued to dominate the competition.

With Fingal making their exit in Cookstown, it was left to 'Town to break the northern monopoly among the last four. The Blues trailed 3-2 going into the last couple of minutes of their game against Instonians.

Then New Zealander Andy Ewington produced a last-gasp equaliser after their Belfast opponents were reduced to 10-men following the dismissal of Stephen Redpath on a second yellow card.

Gareth Watkins bundled in the winner during extra-time of a memorable match at Rathdown.

In the other half of the draw, Cookstown will meet Annadale. 'Dale hijacked cup favourites Lisnagarvey in a game decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Meanwhile, Cookstown's 3-0 success was not as emphatic as the score suggests. Fingal trailed to an early Stephen Sloan strike but they hit a post before a late Ian Sloan brace.

Irish Independent

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