In Brief: Walshe hot on leaders' heels
ALISON WALSHE blazed into contention at the Open de Espana yesterday, posting her best 18 holes of the year, a fault-free 65, to share second place on six-under with Laura Davies and Karin Koch.
Galway-born Walshe (25) swept to within one stroke of the lead of Spain's Maria Hernandez with the stellar round of an otherwise modest season.
While she competes under the flag of the US and represented her adopted homeland in the 2008 Curtis Cup, Walshe cannot play for the States in the Solheim Cup -- as she's not American by birth -- and could emerge as the best hope of a 'home' player on the European Solheim Cup team at Killeen Castle next year.
Rebecca Coakley, top Irishwoman at 36 in the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, opened with a 73 yesterday for a share of 72nd. Martina Gillen shot 74, Hazel Kavanagh 76 and Tara Delaney 81.
BOWLER Steve Harmison last night described Andrew Flintoff's retirement as a "sad day for English cricket".
Flintoff yesterday confirmed he has played his last game of professional cricket after being told his body would not be able to cope with a planned comeback.
The all-rounder had not played since the Ashes last summer due to a chronic knee problem.
A make-or-break meeting with his surgeon this week forced the 32-year-old to accept a 14-year career -- which included 79 Tests and 140 one-day internationals -- was over.
Harmison said: "People look for words to describe Andrew and coming from someone close to him in the dressing-room, he's been an inspirational character, not just for Lancashire, not just for England, but for children growing up and for his team-mates as well."
IRELAND'S James McGee upset the form book as he booked a quarter-final place in the ITF Men's Futures event in Casablanca, Morocco.
The unseeded Dubliner showed himself to be at home on the slow clay surface, putting Spain's No 8 seed David Estruch to the sword on a 6-4 6-4 scoreline. McGee now takes on France's No 3 seed Florian Reynet for a place in the semi-finals.
The Castleknock man has already advanced to the doubles semi-finals in partnership with Italy's Marco Sanges -- edging past Morocco's Reda Karakhi and Egypt's Sherif Sabry on a 6-4 6-7 (5-7) (10-3) scoreline.
But there was no singles quarter-final joy for Colin O'Brien in the corresponding tournament in Danderyd, Sweden -- the No 7 seed crashing out to Finland's second-seeded Timo Nieminen, 1-6 0-6.
However, O'Brien and fellow Dubliner James Cluskey, the top seeds, advanced to the doubles semi-finals, ousting Swedes Isak Arvidsson and Lucas Renard 5-7 6-1 11-9.
- LABOUR relations expert Kieran Mulvey, the man the GAA brought in to mediate in the Cork players' strike of 2007-08, is the new chairman of the Irish Sports Council (ISC). Mulvey has been chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission since 1991 and chaired the negotiations for the recent Public Service 'Croke Park Agreement'. He replaces outgoing ISC chairman Ossie Kilkenny and will have a five-year term of office.