Wednesday 22 November 2017

In Brief: Vettel targets place in history

MOTORSPORT: Sebastian Vettel stands just 56 laps away from becoming the youngest triple world champion in Formula One history.

Vettel continued his total domination of the United States Grand Prix weekend, following his clean sweep of practice by setting the fastest times in all three qualifying sessions.

It means the 25-year-old will start his 100th grand prix from his sixth pole position this year, and 36th of a career which threatens to scale new heights this afternoon.

Fernando Alonso could only qualify ninth in his Ferrari and has to finish within 15 points of Vettel to ensure the title fight goes down to the wire in Brazil next weekend, but clearly faces an uphill battle to achieve that on the evidence so far.

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GOLF: Michael Campbell survived two major scares but the New Zealander remains on course to end a seven-year title drought at the Hong Kong Open. The 43-year-old started yesterday's third round with a one-stroke advantage and after scrambling to shoot a one-under-par 69, he was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez on 10-under for the tournament.

Meanwhile, Irishman Peter Lawrie is three shots off the lead after shooting a third-round 67.

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Henrik Stenson remains on course for the South African Open title at Serengeti.

The 36-year-old Swede, without a win for over three and a half years, takes a three-stroke lead into the final round today after responding to George Coetzee's course-record 63 with a 69 to reach 16-under-par. Coetzee gave himself another chance of a first European Tour title with an eagle two and no fewer than nine birdies.

But the 26-year-old from Pretoria, who has had more than 17 top-10 finishes on the circuit in the past three seasons, also had bogeys at the 12th and 15th.

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GAELIC GAMES: West Limerick side St Kieran's shone in the second half to end Kenmare Shamrocks double winning aspirations in this uninspiring Munster Junior Club hurling semi-final by 1-11 to 1-7 yesterday. Kenmare lacked the necessary firepower initially, allowing St Kieran's to race 0-4 to 0-1 clear by the end of the opening quarter.

A fortuitous 20th minute goal for Kenmare by top marksman Sean O'Regan changed things, however.

But a 26th minute goal for St Kieran's by Ian MacKessy saw them lead 1-5 to 1-4 at the interval and a strong second-half display was enough as Kenmare only managed one point from play after the interval.

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GARY COLE'S 39th minute goal proved to be the crucial score as Rathmolyon booked their place in the Leinster club JHC final with a 1-11 to 1-8 semi-final win over Laois champions Colt at Trim yesterday.

The Meath IHC champions led by 0-7 to 1-3 at half-time despite hitting nine wides in that opening period.

However, after the break they were more economical with fewer chances and when Cole netted to make it 1-9 to 1-4 it put them in the driving seat and they were able to see out the win.

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HOCKEY: Pembroke Wanderers suffered their first setback of the current League campaign, losing 6-4 to Monkstown.

The game was a must-win for Monkstown who led 2-1 at the break. Dave Cole and Kyle Good proved match winners as they shared four second-half goals.

It was a good day also for bottom of the table Avoca, promoted this season, as they held YMCA to a 1-1 draw with YMCA equalising in the closing minutes. The Leinster women's League campaign is very tight at the top with four teams level on 17 points apiece following UCD's 2-1 win at Old Alexandra.

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TENNIS: Ireland's James McGee yesterday chalked up two wins in Japan to clinch a qualifying singles final round place on the ATP Challenger Tour circuit.

Playing in the Asian country for the second week on the trot, the 25-year-old Dubliner first saw off Chinese Taipei's Chieu-Fu Wang on a 6-4 7-5 scoreline after an hour and 22 mins in the indoor tournament in Toyota. And No 2 seed McGee followed up with a 7-5 6-3 success over Australia's Dane Propoggia after an hour and 11 minutes, the Irish No 1 breaking his opponent's serve once in each set.

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The Czech Republic won the doubles yesterday to take a 2-1 lead over defending champion Spain in the Davis Cup final, moving one win away from its first title as an independent nation. Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek rallied to beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 3-6 7-5 7-5 6-3 to give the Czechs the edge going into today's reverse singles.

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CRICKET: England rediscovered their fight but still face a mountainous task to salvage a first Test stalemate after collapsing to Indian spin on day three and having to follow on 330 runs behind.

Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin bowled England out for 191, yet neither of the Indian spinners could make any inroads in 28 more overs between them when the tourists tried again and succeeded to the tune of 111 for none.

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Rangana Herath bagged his 11th five-wicket haul in test cricket as Sri Lanka bowled out New Zealand for 221 in its first innings of the opening test yesterday.

However, New Zealand seamer Tim Southee struck back early in dismissing debutant opener Dimuth Karunaratne lbw for a duck as the hosts were 9-1 at close of play.

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BASKETBALL: Killester's troubles continued last night as they suffered their second successive defeat, this time on a 84-61 scoreline to UCD Marian in Belfield.

With Jermaine Turner still not cleared to play due to the changing of his playing status, Killester were again without their most potent threat on the inside.

Nonetheless, with Alan Casey showing well, they trailed by just four points at the break before two long baskets from Conor Meaney sparked a 16-point run to put the game out of Killester's reach.

Meanwhile, just down the road at the Colaiste Iosagain gym, Mercy remain top of the Women's Superleague after a 66-58 win over Meteors.

Meteors had whittled down a 20-point advantage to four heading down the stretch – thanks to baskets from Rebecca Nagle.

However, having exceeded their team foul limit, Meteors lost their way once more with two free throws from Megan Hoffman combined with the fast breaking of Sara Woods sealing the win for Mark Ingle's team.

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