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Niland on cusp of Wimbledon

CONOR NILAND rallied from a set down to clinch a final-round place in Wimbledon qualifying at the All-England Club in London yesterday.

Niland's prospects looked far from rosy when he lost the opener. But the Irish No 1 regrouped against Australia's Greg Jones before prevailing 4-6 7-5 6-2. The 187-ranked Limerick native levelled the match by breaking 222-ranked Jones once in the second set and broke him twice in the decider.

Niland has a rest day today, and tomorrow he faces Serbia's 274-ranked Nikola Mertic, a surprise 6-1 7-6 (7/5) winner over Russia's 200-ranked Andrey Kuznetsov.

Elsewhere, Niland's Davis Cup team-mate James McGee secured a second-round place in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Milan after a three-hour-six-minute marathon.

The 24-year-old Dubliner looked on the way out when he went 3-1 down in the third set against Serbia's Filip Krajinovic. But he recovered to win 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (7/9) 6-3.


Ireland team manager Robert Splaine has selected another mixed group of riders for the fourth leg of the European Promotional League in Norway on Saturday.

Splaine is using the Promotional League as a testing ground for potential senior team members, and 2002 World Champion, Dermott Lennon from Banbridge is listed amongst the five-strong squad this week with Hallmark Elite.

At 42, he will be the most senior member of the side that also includes 23-year-old Nicola FitzGibbon.

Lisa Rosbotham has been called up with her promising horse Valant. Also listed is Swiss-based 40-year-old Niall Talbot, a veteran of many Nations Cup teams.

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New Zealand coach Graham Henry has not ruled out staying at the helm of the All Blacks after the World Cup on home soil later this year.

Henry, who took over the team following the World Cup in 2003, poured cold water on expectations he would step down after the tournament.

"What I have made a decision on, is to be totally focused on the World Cup and then in November to give some thought to the future," said Henry, who turned 65 last week. "One thing is, I'm not too old, I'm just late middle-aged. They (have) just given me the pension now."

Henry's comments might be deflating for long-time assistant and would-be successor Steve Hansen.

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