Saturday 18 November 2017

Ireland battle back to lead

Tennis: Ireland recorded an improbably victory by saving two match-points in the doubles rubber in their Davis Cup clash against Estonia at David Lloyd Riverview, Dublin last night.

The home combination of Sam Barry and James McGee appeared in control when they raced into a two sets to love lead against opponents Vladimir Ivanov and Marek Marksoo.

But then Ivanov and Marksoot turned the contest on its head by fighting back to level at two sets all before breaking for a 4-2 lead in the final set.

The visitors had two match-points serving at 5-4, but Barry and McGee saved both before breaking back in that game and going on to win on a 6-4 6-3 3-6 3-6 9-7 margin after three hours and 55 minutes of a riveting contest.

The victory means that Ireland carry a 2-1 lead going into today's reverse singles, where McGee will face Ivanov while Barry will meet Jaan Kononov.

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Horseracing: Jonjo O'Neill's Eastlake (11/2) won the opening Betfred 'The Home Of Goals Galore' Handicap Chase at Sandown.

Richie McLernon's mount held off Lord Singer by six lengths, with Lancetto half a length away in third.

The front two had the race to themselves some way from home and Eastlake nearly gave it away with a small mistake before reasserting at the final obstacle.

The market leaders Kudu Country and Toubab were both bitterly disappointing.

"Richie gave him a lovely ride and he seems to love the ground," said O'Neill.

"I wasn't thinking about the novices' handicap chase (Pulteney Land Investments) at Cheltenham but I will now." Paddy Power gave him a quote of 20/1 for that race.

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EQUESTRIAN: Ireland's Shane Carey delivered two consecutive wins at the three-star show in Villach, Austria yesterday, collecting a total of €9,500 in prize money, while in Dubai Cian O'Connor took sixth place in the World Cup Grand Prix.

The Limerick rider's first victory came in the 1m40 class, when he piloted the 11-year-old grey mare Spice Girl into first place to earn €2,000.

Carey, who turned 35 earlier this week, picked up the balance of his prize haul with a narrow win on the grey gelding Ballymore Eustace in the 1m50 Grand Prix Qualifier, pipping Swiss rider Paul Estermann and the Irish Sport Horse Castlefield Eclipse to the post by a fifth of a second in a 17-horse jump-off.

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ATHLETICS: Fionnuala Britton switched from the muddy fields of cross-country running to the warmth of the indoor arena in Germany yesterday and used the 3,000m as part of her preparations for the forthcoming World Championships in Poland in a few weeks' time.

And Britton simply put in another workmanlike performance in running a lifetime best time for the indoor 3,000m, finishing third in 8:55.22, the first time that she has broken nine minutes indoors.

Kenya's Meseret Defar raced into an early lead before going away to win in 8:35.28, the fastest in the world for this indoor season and a meeting record.

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CRICKET: South Africa's openers showed Pakistan how it was done at the Wanderers yesterday, reaching 207-3 by the close of day 2 to extend their overall lead to 411 after skittling the tourists for a record-low Test score of 49 earlier.

With the hosts having posted 253 on day one of the first Test on Friday – all-rounder Jacques Kallis the only player to reach the 50 mark – Pakistan looked to be heading into day two with the upper hand.

But Dale Steyn ripped through the Pakistan battling line-up, finishing with amazing figures of 6-8 from 8.1 overs.

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Basketball: Moycullen maintained their push for a top four play-off spot following a 90-78 win over Marian last night. Their game with Dublin Inter, 82-76 winners over Killester on Friday, is another must win for Salva Camps' team – a loss to either would prove a serious setback of making the knockout stages of the newly-named Champions trophy.

Camps was Moycullen's top scorer with 31 points, his back-to-back three-pointers in the final quarter decisive.

Men's Superleague cup champions Neptune came through a tough encounter with Vincents last night to move to within a point of leaders UL Eagles who take on Demons this afternoon.

Neptune had trailed by 12 points at one stage to Saints but Saints' indiscipline was to cost them in the second quarter with Darren Townes and Ger Noonan converting from the free throw line.

A crucial basket from Gary Walsh on the buzzzer was bring Neptune right back into contention just before the break with Townes landing a series of Dunks in the second half to help Neptune to a 81-72 win.

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Meteors and Ulster Rockets both secured important wins in the race for the top four spots of the Women's Superleague.

Meteors, who need to win two out of their three remaining fixtures (they play Rockets in their final game) to be sure of making the knockout stages, overcame Killester 66-48 with Jade Daly and Rebecca Nagle both hitting some important baskets.

Ulster Rockkets, meanwhile, registered a 75-64 win over Brunell to remain in contention while DCU defeated bottom-of-the-table Liffey Celtics to all but ensure their passage to the play-offs.

Irish Independent

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