Saturday 24 March 2018

Irish duo must settle for silver

BOXING: Michael O'Reilly and Gary Sweeney had to settle for silver at the European Youth Championships which concluded at the Citywest Hotel Convention Centre in Dublin yesterday.

O'Reilly dominated his welterweight final with Igor Kharitonov of Russia but was controversially adjudged to have lost 16-15. Sweeney, meanwhile, produced a brilliant final round against Vladimir Korsunov, but the Ballinrobe man lost out 16-13 in the light-heavyweight decider. O'Reilly's and Sweeney's Irish team-mates, Stephen Broadhurst, Joe Fitzpatrick and Jack Morrissey, won a bronze medal each to take Ireland's medal haul to five from the tournament.

Lithuania's Ricardas Kuncaitis claimed the boxer of the tournament award. Ireland finished third of the 38 nations in the medals behind Russia and Azerbaijan.

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TENNIS: Conor Niland has secured a dream clash with world No 1 Novak Djokovic after qualifying for the main draw of this week's US Open. And his Davis Cup team-mate Louk Sorensen has also been paired against a big name in the final Grand Slam of the year -- world No 6 Robin Soderling.

In winning three matches in the qualifying competition, Niland and Sorensen ensured that Ireland will be represented for the first time by two players in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament in the same year. "I'm really looking forward to playing against Djokovic, and it should be a great experience for me," said Niland.

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HOCKEY: Three goals in as many minutes ensured that Ireland's women retained their top-flight status with panache at the European championships in Germany yesterday.

Their 4-1 win over Italy eased them out of the relegation zone ahead of the Italians and Azerbaijan on the their final day at the tournament in Monchengladbach. Irish nerves were set on edge by an uneasy start, with Emma Gray required to make a very smart save from Allessia Padalino.

The stress lifted after Emma Clarke slammed in the opener on 17 minutes, followed in rapid-fire succession by further fine strikes from veteran Nicky Symmons and on-fire áine Connery. Their opponents rallied once more after the interval, with Padalina finding space to put a pile-driver of a shot past Gray's right foot.

However, the final quarter was completely dominated by the Irish, signing off with an extraordinary goal from Shirley McCay who shot home coolly while lying flat on her stomach.

With the Azerbaijanis still in mathematical contention, Gene Muller's side had to wait a couple of hours before the celebrations could begin. But there was no cause for worry, as Belgium obliged with a convincing 3-0 victory.

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FORMULA ONE: World champion Sebastian Vettel charged to pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix yesterday after denying McLaren's Lewis Hamilton the top slot in the final seconds of qualifying.

In a wet and eventful session, the 24-year-old German secured Red Bull's 13th pole in a row and his ninth of the season. Mark Webber will line up third. Vettel leads Webber by 85 points with eight races remaining.

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Golf: A solid one-under-par round of 71 kept Ireland's Peter Lawrie in contention going into the final round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles yesterday.

Lawrie is one a group of players three strokes behind Spain's Ignacio Garrido and England's Mark Foster, who shot 69 and 68, respectively. Lawrie, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (68), Anthony Kang of the US (69) and Spain's Pablo Larrazabal (70), are all eight-under going into today's final round. Ireland's Simon Thornton and Damien McGrane are on one-under after respective rounds of 71 and 73. Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey shot 75, leaving him on three-over par.

Meanwhile, on the US Tour, Padraig Harrington hit a final round score of 69 in New Jersey to finish The Barclay's seven shots behind winner Dustin Johnson, who grabbed his first PGA win of the year. The event was shortened to 54 holes due to Hurricane Irene.

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CYCLING: Ireland's Nicolas Roche and Daniel Martin secured top-10 finishes on stage eight of the Tour of Spain as Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez seized the overall lead after he secured a solo victory.

Rodriguez of the Katusha team finished in four hours, 49 minutes and one second. Roche finished in seventh, and Martin was ninth, both 16 seconds back. The Irish duo are neck and neck overall, with Martin in 22nd and Roche in 23rd three seconds behind him.

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ROWING: With the chance of Olympic qualification providing an edge at this year's World Championships, 14 of Ireland's rowers have travelled to Slovenia, where racing starts today.

Ireland's hopes of qualifying boats for London 2012 lie firmly with the two women's double sculls. Lightweights Claire Lambe and Siobhán McCrohan will need to finish in the top eight crews in Bled to claim an automatic ticket to London.

Sanita Puspure and Lisa Dilleen have the same chance in the openweight event. Galway-born Dilleen, 20, came fourth in the world junior rowing championships two years ago, while Puspure was a under 23 bronze medallist for her native Latvia before taking Irish citizenship.

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Gaelic Games: Some much-coveted hurling silverware was on its way back to Clare last night as the county celebrated winning its first ever All-Ireland intermediate title, following a 2-13 to 1-11 win over Kilkenny.

With a strong spine, stretched from full-back Patrick Kelly right through to veteran full-forward Daire Keane, Clare proved too strong in most sectors for Kilkenny.

A flurry of points towards the end of the first half gave Clare a four-point lead at the break and kicked on after the break for a comfortable win.

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Meath captured the All-Ireland 'B' minor hurling title for the second time after two goals from wing-forward Willie McGrath sent them on their way to a 2-12 to 0-10 win over Roscommon. Meath led by 1-6 to 0-6 at the interval and took control after the restart. Cillian O'Sullivan set McGrath up for his second goal in the closing stages to settle it.

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Captain Mikey Lee led the way with a haul of 2-6 as Wicklow saw off the challenge of Sligo 5-16 to 2-2 to capture the All-Ireland minor hurling 'C' title for the first time at The Downs in Mullingar.

Sligo captain Gary Cadden got their opening goal from a penalty and while Ross McCarrick flicked home another in the second half, Wicklow's superiority was never in doubt.

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LADIES FOOTBALL: CAVAN came good after extra-time to win a thrilling TG4 All-Ireland Ladies intermediate football championship semi-final 2-26 to 3-13 against Leitrim at Leahy Park, Cashel, yesterday evening.

Cavan will face Limerick or Westmeath in the September 25 final at Croke Park. Leitrim full-forward Aine Tighe scored 3-7, but she was held scoreless in extra-time as Cavan came on strong.

Meanwhile, Amy O'Shea scored a hat-trick of second-half goals against Laois as Cork cruised into the All-Ireland senior final on a scoreline of 4-10 to 1-6. O'Shea struck a brace within a minute just after half-time to kill off Laois.

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