Thursday 18 January 2018

Walsh poised for Swans AFL debut

Tommy Walsh will make his much-anticipated AFL debut tomorrow for the Sydney Swans against Melbourne at the SCG.

Walsh, who wears the No 17 jersey made famous at Sydney by premiership winner Tadhg Kennelly, will have his father Sean and brother Barry John in the stands cheering him on. After being told the good news by head coach John Longmire on Wednesday, Walsh had lunch with Kennelly -- during which his former All-Ireland winning team-mate with Kerry advised him to play his normal game and enjoy the experience.

The 24-year-old admitted that he wondered if the breakthrough would ever come, having been named as an emergency on a number of occasions during his second year with St Kilda, as well as in the last couple of weeks following his switch to Sydney.

With the Swans having lost their last two games, though, and Walsh getting among the goals for the reserves, a call-up was inevitable this week. "It's been two-and-a-half years and there have been bad times and good times in that, but it's just great to finally get off the mark and get my first game," said Walsh.

"There were times where I felt like it was never going to happen, but I knew I just had to stick with it and keep believing that it was going to come."

cycling

Danish time trial specialist Lars Bak, riding for the Belgian-based Lotto-Belisol squad powered his way to victory on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia in Sestri Levante yesterday, having attacked the remnants of a day-long breakaway group with just 1.5km remaining in the 157km stage.

Bak first went clear alongside the rest of the breakaway around 50km into the day's proceedings but was dropped on the final climb of the day, with 11km to go -- only a hair-raising descent seeing him regain contact with the leaders 3km later.

"It's a dream come true to win a stage in the Giro," said a delighted Bak at the finish. "I'm unbelievably happy. Normally I don't ride the Tour of Italy, but I was injured for most of the spring and the team gave me a chance to do this Giro. I've just been feeling better and better every day."

In the Tour of California, Nicolas Roche and Philip Deignan both finished in the peloton at the end of stage 4, in which race leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas) took his fourth stage victory in a row, ahead of the stage 5 time trial.

tennis

Andy Murray lost to a determined Richard Gasquet at the Rome Masters yesterday.

The 25-year-old Scot claimed the first set on a tie-break, but Gasquet battled his way back into the match to triumph 6-7 (1/7) 6-3 6-2.

Gasquet goes on to face David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, while Murray's next outing on clay will be at the French Open next week.

Irish Independent

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