Monday 18 December 2017

Wicklow into Ring decider

HURLING: Wicklow advanced to their second Christy Ring final in two years as a result of defeating Meath by seven points, 3-17 to 2-12, in their semi-final at Arklow yesterday.

They bolted from the starting blocks and looked as if they were going to clock up a massive winning margin as they established a 2-7 to 0-3 lead after 26 minutes, the goals rifled to the net by corner-forward Andy O'Brien and centre-forward Wayne O'Gorman.

Meath hit back for goals by Derek Doran and midfielder Stephen Clinch from a free from midfield, cutting the deficit to four points, 2-10 to 2-6, at the break; but just on the stroke of half-time they were reduced to 14 men after Stephen Donoghue received a red card minutes after he came on.

At times in the third quarter Meath looked to have the extra man as they kept the margin tight, but then Wicklow's super-sub Christy Moorehouse effectively closed out the game with a great goal when he raced in from the right wing before blasting to the net.

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Down and London could not be separated (Down 1-21 London 1-21 aet) and will have to replay their Christy Ring Cup semi-final following yesterday's Pairc Esler thriller.

Down led by 0-14 to 1-8 at half-time, with Tony Dunne hitting the Exiles' goal, but the Ulster men needed a stoppage-time goal from Conor Woods, direct from a free, to send the tie to added time. London once again took up the running with scores from Martin Finn and Pat Sloan, but Down salvaged a draw with a late point from a Michael Turley free.

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Donegal's dreams of adding the Nicky Rackard Cup to their Lory Meagher success of last year were emphatically ended when they were hammered 3-18 to 0-7 by Louth at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny yesterday.

Eugene Organ scored the first point of the second half, to leave Donegal just a point down at 0-8 to 0-7. However, that was the last time the Donegal team bothered the umpires and Louth's finish to the match was relentless.

Shane Fennell's goal on 50 minutes swung the advantage towards the Leinster team and David Dunne grabbed two further goals, either side of Donegal losing corner-back Benny Harrigan to a second yellow .

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Armagh laboured to an unimpressive semi-final victory over Roscommon, 4-12 to 1-17, in the Nicky Rackard Cup at Crossmaglen.

They scored four goals inside the opening 25 minutes but still needed sub John Corvan to hit two late points to get them over the line.

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MOTORSPORT: Veteran Michael Schumacher posted the fastest time in an action-packed qualifying session at the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday, but a grid penalty means that Mark Webber's Red Bull will start today's race in pole position.

Webber beat Nico Rosberg's time on his final lap, only for the 43-year-old Schumacher to surpass Webber's effort just moments later in a thrilling finale. But the grid penalty Schumacher incurred at the Spanish Grand Prix means he starts from sixth on the grid.

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GOLF: Irishman Peter Lawrie carded a 72 yesterday to move within four shots of leader and current champion Luke Donald at the PGA Championship. It could have been better for Lawrie too as he bogeyed three of his last six holes.

Title-holder Donald prompted cries of 'Luke, Luke' after cajoling a 15-foot birdie putt into the cup at the 18th to open a two-stroke lead after the third round at Wentworth. The world No 2, who needs to finish eighth on his own to take over from Rory McIlroy at the top of the rankings, was at his scrambling best to return a three-under-par 69 for an 11-under 205 total as gusts up to 40kph swirled around Wentworth.

Fellow Briton Justin Rose claimed second spot on 207 after another 69, two ahead of Lawrie.

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Overnight leader Chris Selfridge added a 72 to his opening 66 to take a three-stroke lead into today's final 36 holes at the Golfsure sponsored Irish Amateur Close Championship at a sunny Royal Portrush.

The 20-year old from Moyola Park carded an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys in a steady round in 20mph east winds to top the leaderboard on six-under-par.

Ballymena international Dermot McElroy (19) shot a 71 and Ardee's Eugene Smith a 73 to get to three-under and join Selfridge in the final three-ball.

"It's a nice lead but I am not putting any pressure on myself," said the University of Toledo scholarship man Selfridge. "It's just great to get to play that golf course another two times."

Mourne's Reeve Whitson (70) West Waterford's Gary Hurley (71) and Muskerry's Niall Gorey (71) are just four off the lead on two-under, with local favourite and Walker Cup star Alan Dunbar of Rathmore a shot further back alongside Athlone's Kelan McDonagh after a disappointing 75.

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Donaghadee's Jessica Ross leads by one stroke after the first round of the Irish Women's Open Amateur Strokeplay at The Island GC.

In 35mph winds, Ross punched well above her weight to lead current internationals Gillian O'Leary (Cork) and Charlene Reid (Royal Portrush) alongside Scotland's Hannah McCook. As competitors struggled in the trying conditions, Maria Dunne (Skerries) was one further back after an 80, while the Maguire twins and Mary Dowling lie menacingly within striking distance.

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Swimming: Ireland's Sycerika McMahon secured a place in the 50m breaststroke final at the European Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. The 17-year-old Leander swimmer is ranked second going into the final after swimming 31.51 in yesterday's semi-final.

This will be McMahon's second final appearance of the week after finishing fifth in the 100m breaststroke final on Tuesday. Fiona Doyle also swam in yesterday's 50m breaststroke heats but missed out on a semi-final spot finishing in 33.46.

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ATHLETICS: The highly talented Mark English smashed his own Irish national junior 800 metres record at the IFAM meeting in Flanders, Belgium last night when he swept to a most impressive victory in the 15 runner field.

The 19-year-old Donegal runner's time was 1:45.77 seconds which lowered his own mark of 1:47.09 and was just outside the London Olympic qualifying time of 1:45.60.

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TRIATHLON: Ireland's Aileen Morrison took second place at the latest round of the World Triathlon Series in Madrid. The Derry athlete was 25 seconds off the pace after the swim but then produced brilliant bike and run performance to finish just four seconds behind Swiss winner Nicola Spirig.

Morrisson is now ranked eighth in the world with the top 55 taking part at the Olympics.

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cricket: Captain Andrew Strauss hit his second century in as many matches as England set the foundations for a considerable first-innings lead on day two of the second Test against the West Indies.

Strauss scored 102 not out at Trent Bridge and Kevin Pietersen provided the fireworks in an unbroken stand of 136, contributing a rapid 72no in a stumps score of 259 -2. That left England 111 short of the tourists' 370, and the hosts will anticipate a score in excess of 500 as they press for a series-clinching win.

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HOCKEY: Hermes head Pool B in the Euro Club Champions tournament in Switzerland and need only a draw today against Czech side Slavia Praha to clinch outright victory and promotion to next year's top division.

Hermes won 3-1 against Weiss of Austria, with goals from Gillian Pinder in the first half, and Lisa Jacob and Rachel Burke in the second period.

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