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Late agony for Irish amateurs

A late strike from Jose Fortunato broke the Republic of Ireland Amateurs' hearts last night and smashed their UEFA Regions Cup dream as Braga claimed their first title in Barcelos with a 2-1 victory.

Fortunato escaped from his right-back position, skipped forward and produced a neat chip over Brendan O'Connell with only six minutes left of the final to send the hosts into raptures and leave a brave Irish side, playing their fourth game in a week, shattered.

Pedro Nobre netted his first goal of the tournament to give the home side the lead just after the hour mark, the tricky winger firing a low shot past Brendan O'Connell.

The hosts' joy was short-lived as Gerry Smith's side hit back within six minutes.

Ray Whelehan whipped in a free-kick from 25 yards out. Rui Vieira elected to punch, but he failed to get the ball clear and David O'Sullivan was the first to react in a crowded area and the Wicklow Rovers man thumped home his second goal of the tournament.

But Fortunato struck the winner with just six minutes to go and while David Lacey forced Vieira into a late save, the Irish couldn't rescue the game.

IRELAND -- O'Connell; Higgins (Breen 86mins), Hoey, Walsh, Carrig; Whelehan, Barbour (Keddy 80mins), Dunne; Kavanagh (Loughran h-t), Lacey, O'Sullivan.

PORTUGAL -- Vieira; Fortunato, Costa, Simoes, Silva, Goncalves (Costa 63), Ferreira (Gomes 73), Nobre, Veiga, Leite, Riberio (Reis 60).

Ref -- K Henry Johnsen (Norway).


IRELAND'S James Cluskey followed up his 'lucky loser' admission to the singles competition by yesterday advancing to the doubles quarter-final in the ITF Futures event in Montauban, France.

The 24-year-old Dubliner and India's Divij Sharan, seeded No 3, overcame French Argentinian duo Mateo Galdon and Gonzalo Tur 6-4 7-5


Alastair Cook failed with the bat but his captaincy began with a comprehensive 110-run win over Sri Lanka in the rain-affected first one-day international at the Oval yesterday.

Cook had no answer for those who doubt his limited-overs credentials, making just five in his comeback after 15 months out, but positive batting from Craig Kieswetter (61) and Eoin Morgan (45 from just 35 balls) and a devastating spell by James Anderson (4-18) ensured his reign had a victorious start.

With each innings reduced to 32 overs, England posted an imposing 229-8 before bundling the tourists out for 121 in pursuit of a Duckworth/ Lewis-revised target of 232.

Irish Independent