Saturday 20 January 2018

In Brief: Smith strikes for vital point

SOCCER: Steven Smith kept the Republic of Ireland under 19s' hopes of reaching this summer's European finals alive by scoring a dramatic injury-time leveller to secure a 2-2 draw in their UEFA European elite phase qualifier against Slovakia.

Ireland had taken the lead through Sam Byrne before Matus Marcin got Slovakia back level but Albert Rusnak looked to have won it with a goal on 90 minutes before Smith fired in to rescue a vital point.

Paul Doolin's team must now beat Serbia on Tuesday and hope Switzerland lose to Slovakia to qualify.

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Goals from Killian Brennan, Anthony Flood and Jake Kelly helped Airtricity Premier Division leaders St Patrick's Athletic to a 3-0 win over a strong Limerick side at Richmond Park.

Brennan fired Pat's ahead on 43 minutes before substitute Flood, who was only on the pitch 30 seconds, rounded Limerick goalkeeper Barry Ryan outside the box and slotted the ball into the far corner on 57 minutes. Kelly then tapped in the third goal from close range in injury-time.

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Four goals from Jason Byrne helped Bray Wanderers to a nerve-jangling 5-4 victory over UCD in their Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Belfield last night.

Cillian Morrison handed the hosts the perfect start in the 5th minute but Ismahil Akinade's leveller nine minutes later and Byrne's four goals – two either side of the break – proved telling against UCD, who responded through David McMillan, David O'Connor and Robbie Creevy.

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Sligo Rovers failed to score for the fourth successive league game as the champions lost more ground at the top of the table after being held to a scoreless draw at the Showgrounds by an energetic Bohemians side.

The home side could have opened the scoring inside 21 seconds only for a brilliant goal-line clearance from Owen Heary, and youngster Liam Martin directed a header off the post shortly after. A frustrated Rovers could not break down a dogged Bohs side, however.

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Youngster Michael Duffy netted his first goal for Derry City as Declan Devine's side earned an important 1-0 win over Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

Shelbourne squandered a couple of gilt-edged opportunities, but the promising Duffy landed the blow that truly mattered, finishing off Rory Patterson's pass in the 64th minute.

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GOLF: Joost Luiten of the Netherlands carded a five-under 67 yesterday to extend his lead at the Lyoness Open to three strokes and put himself in contention for his second European Tour title.

Carrying a one-stroke lead overnight, Luiten bogeyed two of his first five holes but recovered with seven birdies to sit three strokes clear of Spanish pair Jorge Campillo and Eduardo de la Riva.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Damien McGrane carded a third-round 70, while Gareth Maybin and David Higgins could only manage rounds of two-over par, leaving the trio well off the pace entering today's final round.

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DES SMYTH took advantage of the most benign of conditions to post a round of 69 which leaves the Irishman tied for second place in the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship. He lies one shot behind Englishman Paul Wesselingh entering today's final round after plundering eight birdies at De Vere Mottram Hall in Cheshire to card an impressive 10-under-par total.

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CYCLING: Team Sky's Chris Froome will take a 51-second lead into today's final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné after a superbly measured performance on stage seven.

Spain's Samuel Sanchez sprinted clear of Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang in the last 200 metres to take the stage victory. Froome finished seventh on the 187.5km stage, but close enough to team-mate Richie Porte to lose just one second to the Australian, who remains second in the general classification. The race concludes this afternoon with a 155.5km stage from Sisteron to Risoul.

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Cameron Meyer of Australia exploited good wind conditions to win the opening prologue stage yesterday at the nine-day Tour of Switzerland.

Meyer clocked 9 minutes, 39 seconds before later starters faced head winds on the 8.1km time trial route around Quinto. Ireland's Nicolas Roche could only muster 44th position and sits 37 seconds off the pace set by leader Meyer.

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CRICKET: England landed an early psychological blow on Australia ahead of the Ashes series, beating their fierce rival by 48 runs in their opening match of the Champions Trophy yesterday.

Opener Ian Bell hit a patient 91 to help steer England to 269-6, a target that appeared competitive but very achievable on a benign strip under blue skies at Edgbaston.

It proved too much for an out-of-form Australia, as the tourists could make only 221-9 with half-centuries from stand-in captain George Bailey and James Faulkner.

The Australians are already up against it in Group A, which also contains Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and the result won't do much for their self-belief with the Ashes fast approaching.

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MOTORSPORT: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel finished fastest in qualifying with a time of one minute and 25.425 seconds and will take pole position at today's Canadian Grand Prix. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, with Valtteri Bottas (Williams) taking third place on the grid.

Irish Independent

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