World's best Aymar to test Irish resolve
Ireland will attempt to tame the world's best women's hockey player when reigning World Cup holders Argentina visit Belfield today (5.0) for the first of a two-game series, which serves as a last tune-up before the European Championships for Gene Muller's team.
Seven-time World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar has won an amazing 344 international caps and her inclusion in the Argentinian panel should make for the highlight of a hectic summer of fixtures for the Irish.
The teams will play again tomorrow at 4.0.
The Irish U-19s bounced back from Tuesday's 3-0 mauling to beat Serbia 1-0 in the second of their friendly matches in Belgrade.
Southend United winger George Smith created the crucial opening on 32 minutes by delivering a cross for Reading striker David Murphy to head the ball home.
Manager Paul Doolin will recall some of his first-choice players for the final warm-up matches in Slovenia on September 3 and 5. Then, from October 6-11, the real business starts when they meet Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and mini-group hosts Bulgaria in the UEFA first-phase qualifiers, aiming to capture one of the two places into the elite phase.
Ireland's representatives in the UEFA Women's Champions League, Peamount United, almost earned what would have been a credible draw against last year's quarter-finalists Rayo Vallecano in their group opener last night in Slovenia.
Eileen Gleeson's team had coped well against their illustrious opponents until a strike a minute into stoppage-time from Vallecano skipper Natalia gave the Spaniards a 1-0 victory.
IRish star Amy Bowtell yesterday shocked the No 2 seed in the quarter-finals of the ITF Women's Circuit event in Gijon, Spain.
Unseeded Bowtell stormed back from losing the first set to pull off a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 victory over Germany's Karolina Nowak, who is ranked 303 places ahead of the Irishwoman.
In partnership with Britain's Lucy Brown, the Irish player has also nailed down a place in the doubles final -- against the top seeds, Spain's Amanda Carreras and Venezuela's Andrea Gamiz.
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Australia's Mark Renshaw, who has guided Mark Cavendish to many of his Tour de France stage wins, has agreed a two-year contract with Rabobank, the Dutch team announced yesterday.
Renshaw's signing was confirmed after the demise of HTC-Highroad saw him freed from his contract, which was due to run into the 2012 season.
The 28-year-old, who played a crucial role in Cavendish's success, piloting the Briton in sprint finales, will ride in support of Holland's Theo Boss.