Sunday 18 February 2018

Munster handed difficult draw

CHAMPIONS Munster have been handed a tough draw in next season's expanded British and Irish Cup.

Ian Costelloe's side will face Aberavon, Plymouth and Rotherham Titans, as a total of 32 teams will take part in the Cup with all 24 English Championship and Welsh Premiership teams joined by new boys Connacht and Melrose.

The westerners have been drawn against Cross Keys, Newport and relegated Newcastle, while last year's semi-finalists Leinster will face newcomers Jersey, Leeds and Pontypridd. Ulster take on Cardiff, Bridgend and Bristol in the competition, with pool games being played in October, December and January.

draw in factfile

RACING

CHAMPION jockey Davy Russell was the man to follow at Killarney, where he recorded a 23/1 double in last night's opening two races.

The Cork jockey secured the Aer Lingus Handicap Chase aboard 3/1 favourite His Excellency. Trained by Gordon Elliott, the Grade Two-winning juvenile hurdler showed plenty of determination on the run-in to fend off Banna Man by a neck.

Russell's first winner came in the opening maiden hurdle, which went to Beabus Jack for Charles Byrnes at odds of 5/1.

Fresh from a double at Dundalk, Joseph O'Brien added two more to his haul aboard Happy Anniversary and Beach Of Falesa, running in the colours of his mother.

TENNIS

Roger Federer has broken the record for the most weeks at No 1 in the ATP world rankings. The Swiss ace returned to top spot for the first time since the 2010 French Open after winning Wimbledon and now boasts 287 weeks in the position, one clear of Pete Sampras' previous-best mark.

The 30-year-old's Wimbledon win was his 17th Grand Slam title and saw him move level with Sampras and William Renshaw as record seven-time winners at the All England club.

• BANGLADESH warmed up for this week's T20 series against Ireland with two emphatic wins against representative sides in Comber, Co Down yesterday. The series of three T20 internationals take place at Stormont tomorrow, Friday and Saturday.

Irish Independent

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