Saturday 20 January 2018

The Exiles find help in Hand

GAELIC GAMES: London are back at Croke Park for the fourth time in as many years following a thrilling 2-16 to 2-13 extra-time win over Down at Ruislip yesterday in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final replay.

A goal from substitute Luke Hand late in the first period of extra-time put the Exiles back in front after Down had taken the lead for the first time -- and they repelled a second-period rally from the Mourne men to book a final date with Wicklow on Saturday.

London looked to be on course for victory in normal time when Martin Finn atoned for an early penalty miss with a superb eighth-minute goal, and they led by 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval. Down improved in the second half, with Michael Ennis netting at the midway stage, and a last-minute penalty from Conor Woods forced extra-time. Down had the wind in the first period but it was London who took control, Hand's late goal giving them a cushion they successfully defended.

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CRICKET: Ireland will begin their preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 with a three-game series against Bangladesh, who are embarking on a nine-day tour of Ireland from July 13-22.

The games will be played at Stormont in Belfast on July 18, 20 and 21, with a warm-up fixture against an Ireland XI taking place on July 16.

"The games will give us valuable preparation as we build towards the World Cup in Sri Lanka," said Ireland coach Phil Simmons.

"We played an exciting brand of cricket in winning the recent qualifying tournament in Dubai and we're eighth in the world rankings in this format of the game. In Paul Stirling we have one of the most exciting players in international cricket."

The sides have met just once in this format of the game, during the group stages of the ICC World Twenty20 at Trent Bridge in 2009, a game which Ireland won by six wickets.

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GOLF: Portmarnock's James Fox bounced back from two early bogeys when he fired two eagles in a six-under 66 to take a three-stroke clubhouse lead in the East of Ireland Amateur Open in Louth.

But the 29-year-old financial analyst played down his chances of following in the footsteps of his brother Noel, now a professional, who won the last of his three East of Ireland titles in 2002.

"No one really cares who is leading a marathon after the first round but it's a good score," said Fox, who birdied the 15th and 17th and eagled the 18th with a rescue to two-feet to turn in 33. Greenore's Caolan Rafferty carded 69 with Mullingar's Dessie Morgan, Royal Dublin's Gary McGrane and Forrest Little's Allan Kiernan four off the pace after 70s.

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Ross Fisher was having real problems with his driving as he battled to stay in the hunt for the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor yesterday. Meanwhile, Ireland's Damien McGrane is five shots off the lead having hit five birdies in the closing nine.

Back on the course where he made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago, Fisher took a two-stroke lead into the third round. But after five bogeys and two birdies in the first 12 holes, he was happy to finish the day one behind new pacesetter Thongchai Jaidee. Fisher now drops to six-under and joint second place with Holland's Joost Luiten.

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ATHLETICS: The Kenyan 10,000m trial for Olympic Games qualification yesterday saw the fastest massed finish ever -- with all 15 runners clocking a time under 28 minutes.

In Eugene, Oregon, Wilson Kiprop was selected for London, coming first with a time of 27:01.98, the fastest time in the world this year and remarkable for a race without any pacemakers

The second automatic team place went to Moses Masai in 27:02.25 while Bitan Karaki was third in 27:05.5.

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Derry Paralympic athlete Jason Smyth ran his fastest 100m ever yesterday in a time of 10.17 but was denied Olympic qualification as the wind was too strong.

Smyth's time was .01 inside the London standard but will not be recognised because of the wind reading. The maximum permissible wind reading is 2m per second but the mark in Florida was 3.6.

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Castletroy College's Sarah Lavin won the 'Athlete of the Meet' at the All-Ireland Schools Finals following her time of 13.73 in the Senior Girls' 100m hurdles, breaking her coach Noelle Morrissey's record from 1983.

In the Senior 400m hurdles, Nessa Cooper-Millet (Kilkenny College) set a CBP of 60.63. Ben Kiely (Tramore CBS) won the Senior Boys' 400m hurdles and 400m.

Sean Lawlor (Kylemore College) set a CBP in the Junior Boys' 200m of 23.16, and also won the 100m. There were also sprint doubles in the Senior Boys for Marcus Lawlor (CBS Carlow), Zak Irwin (Sligo Grammar) in the Intermediate Boys and Roisin Harrington (Villiers School Limerick) in the Intermediate Girls. Síofra Cléirigh Buttner (Coláiste íosagáin) set a CBP in the 800m of 2:10.27 and went onto win the 1,500m.

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TENNIS: Mikhail Youzhny was having such a bad day in the third round of the French Open he felt the need to apologise, on court during the match.

The 27th-seeded Russian scraped "Sorry" into the clay with his right foot in the middle of his 6-0 6-2 6-2 loss to No 6 seed David Ferrer yesterday.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray saw off Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-4 6-4. There was no sign of the back problems that proved so debilitating in his win over Jarkko Nieminen two days ago, with the world No 4 moving well.

Elsewhere, in the women's competition, defending champion Li Na advanced, but needed three sets to defeat Christina McHale of the United States 3-6 6-2 6-1. Second seed Maria Sharapova was never troubled as she eased past Peng Shuai 6-2 6-2 to reach the last 16.

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rugby: Wales greats Shane Williams and Martyn Williams bowed out at the Millennium Stadium -- but their thunder was stolen by a teenage Test debutant.

Harry Robinson proved the shining light of an inconsistent Wales display -- beating the Barbarians 30-21 -- scoring a blistering try after just 10 minutes.

Wales, though, struggled to build on the 19-year-old wing's dazzling effort and they only prevailed courtesy of James Hook's 20-point haul from a try, three penalties and three conversions, plus Aled Brew's late effort.

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EQUESTRIAN: William Fox-Pitt led the field in the Tattersalls Three Day Event but Irish riders claimed five of the top-10 spots at the Meath cross-country course.

Ireland's Sarah Ennis with the Irish Sport Horse Sugar Brown Babe was in third on 52 penalties, while Tipperary's Peter Hannigan and First Mate placed fourth on the same penalty score.

Captain Geoff Curran and the Irish Sport Horse Shanaclough Crecora incurred zero penalties to take sixth place.

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