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Tunisia have Irish on ropes

TENNIS: Ireland's Davis Cup team have left themselves with a massive task after losing the doubles rubber in the relegation play-off against Tunisia at David Lloyd Riverview in Clonskeagh yesterday.

Conor Niland and James Cluskey tumbled to a 6-4 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/5) defeat by the opposition duo, Malek Jaziri and Anis Ghorbel, after two hours and 53 minutes.

Yesterday's result gives the North Africans a 2-1 lead in the five-match tie, meaning the Irish have to win both of today's reverse singles to avoid dropping down to Group Three of the Europe-Africa Zone in 2012 for the first time since 2007.

In these, Niland faces Jaziri in the opener and Barry King takes on Ghorbel.

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CAMOGIE: Wexford put some previous lethargic performances behind them with their best display of the season so far, slamming Tipperary by 5-11 to 0-10 in the All-Ireland senior camogie championship.

Meanwhile, a wonderful contribution of six points from play by Denise Gaule, allied with a 60th-minute goal by championship debutant Grace Walsh was required for Kilkenny to shake off Clare 2-15 to 2-8 at Nowlan Park.

Elsewhere, Cork cruised past Offaly in Birr 6-27 to 0-10 while Galway continued their good form with a 2-18 to 0-6 win over Dublin.

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ATHLETICS: Messages of congratulations continued to pour in yesterday for the new World Youth 5,000m walking champion, 17-year-old Waterford woman Kate Veale, whose gold medal performance gave encouragement to the remaining Irish athletes in action on the penultimate day of the World Youth Championships in Lille, France.

The second Irish walker on the team, Eoin Lynch, produced his fastest time yesterday in the men's 10km event of 49:17.95 but this was not good enough to trouble the leaders and he finished towards the end of the 30-strong field with victory going to Paval Parshin of Russia in 40:51.30.

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CYCLING: Rui Costa won yesterday's eighth stage of the Tour de France as Thor Hushovd retained the yellow jersey as the race entered the Massif Central. Portugal's Costa (Movistar) escaped from the day's nine-man breakaway to solo to success on the 189-km route from Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy in central France.

Defending champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) in eighth place marked closely by two-time runner-up Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) in ninth. Schleck in sixth overall with Contador 20th. Meanwhile, Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished the stage in 19th leaving him in 14th overall, 72 seconds behind leader Hushovd.

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MOTORSPORT: Robert Barrable won yesterday's Sligo Stages Rally in his Skoda Fabia by 11 seconds from Daragh O'Riordan in a Subaru WRC. Barrable is now just eight points behind Tim McNulty in the Dunlop National Rally Championship with four rounds left.

Barrable -- who was top seed in Sligo -- led after the first three stages. Cork native O'Riordan fought hard but was unable to turn it around and Barrable went on to wrap up the title in a time of 1.15.34..

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GOLF: The golfing Gods looked down on Colin Montgomerie in Inverness yesterday and decided to make it as hard as possible for him to qualify for next week's British Open.

After play was abandoned due to stormy weather Montgomerie finally got back on the rain-soaked course at 7.30pm -- but like everyone else did not hit a shot before play was abandoned again for the day.

Long before then the decision had been taken to cut the tournament from 72 to 54 holes for the first time in its history.

Montgomerie, who hasn't missed an Open since 1989, was six under par overnight, five strokes behind Irish joint leader Graeme McDowell and fellow Scots Peter Whiteford and Scott Jamieson.

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ROWING: Irish sculler Siobhan McCrohan finally moved on to the podium with a bronze medal yesterday at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Galway-born athlete qualified for the final at last year's regatta, where she finished in sixth place. But third place in Lucerne this year mean's a step forward on to the world stage for the Tribesmen sculler. Former world champion Alexandra Tsiavou of Greece won the final with local favourite, Pamela Weisshaupt in second.

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SWIMMING: Sycerika McMahon added to her already impressive medals tally at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Belgrade yesterday, winning silver in the final of the 200m freestyle.

The Leander swimmer set a new Irish junior record in the process, following up on the golds she secured in the 50m breaststroke and 400m freestyle earlier in the week.

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SAILING: Trying conditions on day four at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta forced the organisers to reset some of the races and abandon others across the regatta's nine different courses.

The fickle conditions brought the first slip from Flor O'Driscoll's leading J24 in Cruisers III. Though the Royal St George Crew still lead, their margin is now a single point over Ken Lawless' Supernova. O'Driscoll who is counting three races wins only managed a second and another untypical second placing yesterday. Supernova closed the gap with two race wins.

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HOCKEY: Ireland hit top form with a 9-2 victory over Russia in the semi-finals of Champions Challenge II in Lille, France.

Early penalty corners in the first half were key to success and Conor Harter scored his first international hat-trick with further goals from Eugene Magee, Peter Caruth, Peter Blakeney, Michael Watt, Geoff McCabe and Gareth Watkins. Ireland will play hosts France in today's final after France beat Scotland 5-3.

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