Sunday 25 March 2018

Jaded Irish lose out in Cairo heat


A lack of match-practice on clay took a costly toll on the Ireland Fed Cup team yesterday in the sweltering heat and high humidity in Cairo, WRITES PADDY HICKEY.

Yesterday's 2-1 defeat to Algeria means that Garry Cahill's young side must resign themselves to at least another year in Group Three of the Europe-Africa Zone. A victory over the Algerians, whom Ireland defeated 3-0 on a hardcourt surface in last year's Fed Cup in Malta, would have secured a promotion play-off today against Turkey. Instead, Ireland face Moldova in a contest to decide fifth place.

Because of the flight restrictions, team boss Cahill and Niamh Coveney were unable to fly out of Dublin until Wednesday for the round-robin event which began early that day, and Lucy McCullough was delayed in Ireland for another 24 hours.

Algeria clinched victory in the deciding doubles, with Fatima Zohra- Bouabdallah and Assia Halo defeating Julia Moriarty and McCullough 3-6 6-3 6-1.

The Algerians went 1-0 up when Halo scored a 6-0 6-7 6-1 win over Greystones 16-year-old Amy Bowtell, but Moriarty levelled when edging Zohra-Bouabdallah 6-0 3-6 6-4.

GALWAY light-welterweight Kieran Forde has replaced Christy Joyce on the Irish team for the AIBA World Youth Championships in Azerbaijan tomorrow.

Forde arrived in Baku yesterday after Joyce had been withdrawn after sustaining a nose injury sparring on Tuesday, just a few days after Dublin bantamweight Glen Holmes had been withdrawn following a similar injury.

The start date was pushed back from yesterday because of the air travel restrictions.

Reigning AIBA World Junior champ Joe Ward will be aiming for a historic double at the World Youths, which will feature over 100 nations. Boxers reaching the semi-finals will guarantee themselves bronze and qualify for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August -- that's what the Westmeath middleweight has in mind.

Kenya's version of the three musketeers could light up the London Marathon tomorrow and push back the parameters of physical endeavour.

While they downplayed their prospects, one legendary compatriot predicted the world record will fall.

The top name is Sammy Wanjiru, at 23 the Olympic champion, London champion and man most likely to break Haile Gebrselassie's implausible mark of 2hrs 3mins 59secs.

He faces opposition from Duncan Kibet, a striking figure known for his bling and Manchester United shirt, and Abel Kirui, the world champion, who says his forebears passed on their running genes after hunting antelope on foot.

The three Kenyans will run as a team to combat the challenge from a talented line-up including Tsegaye Kebede, from Ethiopia.

Irish Independent

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