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Saturday 16 December 2017

In brief: Vettel again in driving seat

FORMULA 1: Sebastian Vettel easily took pole position for the European Grand Prix as the World Championship leader continued his dominant season by securing a Red Bull 1-2 in yesterday's qualifying.

Vettel's quickest lap of one minute 36.98 seconds in hot, muggy conditions around Valencia's street circuit was just under two-tenths of a second faster than team-mate Mark Webber.

Lewis Hamilton of McLaren starts third, ahead of Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, with Jenson Button of McLaren completing the third row.

Vettel's seventh pole in eight races was the 22nd of his career to put himself in position for a sixth victory this season.

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GOLF: Former Irish Open winner Sergio Garcia is prepared to risk injury by continuing to play football despite the possibility of later today qualifying for next month's British Open.

Garcia posted a third-round 64 to be among five players tied in second place at 12-under par and two behind England's Mark Foster (66) in the BMW International Open in Munich.

The Spaniard, who recorded his best round in some 18 months and who has not tasted success in over two years, can qualify for Royal St George's by finishing first or second off a 'mini' British Open money list wrapping up today in the Bavarian capital.

Dublin's Peter Lawrie, the only Irish player left in the field, carded a 73 to drop to six-under par.

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equestrian: With elder brother Shane dominating most of the classes on the first few days of Hickstead, it was 32-year-old Trevor Breen who picked up a fourth place at the four-star Derby show yesterday afternoon.

The Tipperary rider, who had had his share of top 10 places over the previous 48 hours, came home with his top-five position in the Derby Trophy yesterday after battling a strong British presence in the 10-horse jump-off, stopping the clock with the Andiamo Z gelding Andino Z, almost four seconds adrift of in-form British rider Peter Charles and Murkas Nevada.

Wexford's Dave Quigley slotted Diblesse into eighth spot, picking up four faults in the jump-off.

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HOCKEY: Ai Murukami's Golden Goal in extra-time earned Japan a 3-2 victory over Spain and a place against USA in today's final of the ESB Electric Ireland Champions Challenge at Belfield (4.30).

Japan's early dominance saw them lead 1-0 at the break, but two goals in three minutes midway through the second half from Berta Bonastre and Rocio Ybarra gave Spain the lead.

But Japan's tenacity paid off with Komazawa popping up to level with three minutes remaining and Spain down to nine players.

It was all they needed as they stormed into the attack in extra-time before Murukami booked their final place.

The second semi-final, however, never reached the same standard and intensity but it all fell apart for Scotland in the second half with the Americans taking a 44th-minute lead through left wing Shannon Taylor.

The winners notched their second just on the hour, Caroline Nichols scoring a penalty stroke, and they completed their tally with a third from Melissa Gonzalez with two minutes remaining.

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CRICKET: England failed to capitalise on an 83-run stand between Dubliner Eoin Morgan (47) and Kevin Pietersen (41) as they fell to a nine-wicket Twenty20 defeat against Sri Lanka at Bristol.

The tourists, largely outclassed in a rain-affected Test series, showed their limited-overs credentials as Mahela Jayawardene (72 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (43no) saw them home with 16 balls to spare after the hosts reached a disappointing 136-9. England, meanwhile, saw their new era dogged by old problems as Pietersen's innings was ended once again by a slow left-armer and Samit Patel's international comeback left a sour taste.

Patel, two and a half years in exile due to concerns over his weight and work-rate, announced his return in dreadful fashion, looking at worst lazy and at best lethargic as he was run out for a duck at the striker's end.

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camogie: Clare recorded their first victory of the campaign when puncturing Tipperary's unbeaten record in round three of the All-Ireland Senior Championship at Clarecastle. The Banner girls finished strongly to claim a 1-11 to 0-9 victory.

Offaly, meanwhile, held off a strong Dublin effort in the second half to win 2-15 to 0-14. The winners laid the platform for their win in the first half, with two Arlene Watkins goals helping them establish a 2-12 to 0-6 interval lead.

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Athletics: Two-time Olympian and Irish mile record holder Ray Flynn has been appointed meeting director for the prestigious Millrose Games in New York, an extravanganza which has taken place annually before sell-out crowds at Madison Square Garden. This appointment is a singular honour for the Longford-born Flynn, who was himself a former competitor in the famous Wanamaker mile at the meeting, a race won by a number of Irishmen, including Ronnie Delany, Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O'Sullivan.

Flynn, who set the Irish outdoor mile record of 3:49.77 back in 1982, has been a leading agent for world-class athletes since his retirement from competitive athletics.

He also teamed up with Coghlan, O'Sullivan and Frank O'Mara to set a world 4 x mile record which still stands.

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soccer: It's 21 years since Italia '90, and to mark the occasion the ABACAS school for children with autism and Drogheda United FC have organised a charity football match between the Legends of Italia '90 and the League of Ireland Managers at Hunky Dorys Park in Drogheda next Saturday, with Packie Bonner, Tony Cascarino, Paul McGrath, John Aldridge and Ronnie Whelan among those set to take to the field.

On Friday night, two of the country's most celebrated sports stars, Cascarino and Ken Doherty, will pit themselves against 500 participants in a Texas Hold'em poker tournament.

And on Saturday after the match there will be a dinner with surprise guests.

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