Sunday 22 April 2018

McManus ends Offaly career

GAELIC GAMES: Offaly football legend Ciarán McManus has called time on his inter-county career after 16 seasons, writes Damian Lawlor.

The 34-year-old will announce his retirement in the coming days, marking the worst possible start to new manager Gerry Cooney's term in charge.

Only Tyrone's Brian Dooher stood ahead of the Tubber man in the inter-county longevity stakes. He first played championship in 1996 while his league involvement stretches back to 1995 against Tipperary.

He played 120 league games and 64 championship matches for the Faithful County.

With plenty of rancour in the county over the delay in appointing a new manager and with some of the candidates involved furious at the process, this latest blow will hardly help internal matters in a county that has seen six managers in seven years, but McManus feels his time is at an end.

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Defending McGrath Cup champions Kerry have decided to pull out of the competition for next season, writes Marie Crowe.

According to Kerry County Board chairman Jerome Conway, the Kingdom will not have a strong enough team to compete. Conway revealed that some of their senior players are going to take an extended break and will be using January to train rather than to play, so they will be back in time for the start of the National League in early February when Kerry play Dublin.

Many of their younger players are playing with the colleges in the McGrath Cup so they can't play with Kerry.

Former Kerry County Board chairman and newly-elected vice chairman of the Munster Council, Seán Walsh, who was instrumental in getting Kerry and Cork included in the competition almost 10 years ago when it just catered for the province's four weaker counties, disagrees with the move.

"I thought the competition always stood well to Kerry in preparing for the season but I'm not the manager so it is not up to me," Walsh said.

"I find it a very surprising move as they have been champions for the last two years."

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GOLF: NORTHERN Ireland's Simon Thornton regained his full playing card for next season's European Tour yesterday.

Thornton finished in a tie for sixth place at the European Challenge Tour Grand Final in Italy, leaving him to finish 12th overall in the Challenge Tour Rankings, to book his playing rights on next season's European Tour.

A stunning seven-under-par 64 yesterday -- which saw him record five birdies and an eagle three at the par five 11th hole -- meant Thornton picked up a cheque for €11,308.

The tournament was won by Italian Andrea Pavan, who finished on 17-under par.

England's Tommy Fleetwood was second, and by way of consolation, topped the Challenge Tour rankings.

Thornton went into the tournament in 15th place on the Money List and needed to stay inside the top 20 to regain his full European Tour card for next season.

He did so with a bogey-free round to finish the season with earnings of €74,712.

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CAMOGIE: All-Ireland champions Wexford and finalists Galway shared six All Stars apiece at the eighth annual camogie All Stars awards last night.

JJ Doyle, who led Wexford to All-Ireland senior and intermediate success in September, was also named as the O'Neills Manager of the Year.

Winning Wexford captain Ursula Jacob, defensive duo Claire O'Connor and Catherine O'Loughlin and forwards Una Leacy, Katrina Parrock and Kate Kelly all added a second consecutive award.

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EQUESTRIAN: Ireland had two riders in the top five at the finish of yesterday's jump-off class in Verona, with Kildare-born Niall Talbot taking the trophy on Jean-Claude Engisch's chestnut gelding Nicos de la Cense.

Talbot, who is now Swiss-based, was one of just five riders to go clear in the first round from a starting list of 36, and held off a challenge from Germany's Philipp Weishaupt, who lost out on taking the €12,500 first prize by a quarter of a second.

Tipperary's Denis Lynch, meanwhile, took fourth place on his new mount, Flaminia Straumann's gelding Lord Luis, also recording a double clear round. Lynch and Talbot will also be contesting this afternoon's Rolex World Cup Grand Prix, where the total prize money on offer jumps to an impressive €150,000.

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BASKETBALL: Moycullen were toasting a historic first ever win over Neptune after they came from behind to record a 74-71 victory over Mark Scannell's team at NUIG yesterday.

It was Neptune's third consecutive defeat, with Moycullen finishing strongly to claim the points.

With Eoin Maxwell matching up well on Neptune veteran Ger Noonan, the home side also curtailed the defensive threat of American Ronald Thompson (24 pts), with both Luke Enos (30) and Cian Nihill (22) mixing up their shooting well with a series of jump shots and three-pointers.

Up by a point at the break, Moycullen had briefly lost their way but with six seconds to go Dylan Cunnigham made a crucial basket to kill the game off.

Killester, the only remaining unbeaten team in the league, went down to St Vincent's 93-68 in this hotly contested local derby. In Belfield, a winless Star struggled in the absence of Paul Cummins as UCD ran out comfortable 79-63 winners.

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RUGBY LEAGUE: More than 3,000 turned out at Thomond Park last night to see France beat Ireland 34-16 in the first ever rugby league international at the venue. Ireland led 8-6 at the interval. Overall, Joe Taylor scored three tries for the home side, added to by one from Tim Bergin. Kane Berley scored a hat-trick for the visitors. They also benefited from tries by Olivier Ecuma (2) and Thomas Bosc. Bosc converted five of the tries.

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moto gp: Casey Stoner secured his 12th MotoGP pole position of the year in yesterday's qualifying session for the Valencia Grand Prix, equalling the record for a season set by five-times world champion Mick Doohan in 1997.

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HOCKEY: It was a good day for Ulster's men's clubs in the All-Ireland League with Cookstown, Lisnagarvey and Annadale chalking up wins on the road in Dublin over Glenanne, Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke Wanderers respectively. The big upset of the day, though, was in the women's league where defending champions Pegasus lost 4-3 to visitors UCD. The students led 3-1, but Pegasus came back to level with goals from Vanessa Surgeoner and Arlene Boyles, before UCD pulled off a real surprise snatching the winner in the final quarter through Anna O'Flanagan.

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TENNIS: Ireland's Amy Bowtell is ruing the fact that she was paired against rising young German star Antonia Lottner for the second successive week. Lottner is only 15 but she already has an adult world ranking of 1,215, and yesterday she romped to a 6-0 6-2 win over 18-year-old Bowtell.

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Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova beat the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova in straight sets to level the Fed Cup final at 1-1 after the first day in Moscow yesterday.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova gave the Czechs a 1-0 lead by beating Maria Kirilenko, also in straight sets.

The title will be decided today with two reverse singles and a doubles match.

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