Thursday 22 February 2018

Wiesberger has Malaysia edge

GOLF: Austrian Bernd Wiesberger will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Malaysian Open after firing the lowest score of his European Tour career at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club yesterday.

Wiesberger, who had top-six finishes in the three Desert Swing events, continued his rich vein of form and birdied the first five holes in a sparkling 63 to lead Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (68) by two shots at 17-under 199.

Ireland's Peter Lawrie could not match his Friday form when he carded a 66, shooting a third round of 75 to go into the final day on four-under. Michael Hoey shot a 68 to lie one shot behind Lawrie, while Paul McGinley's 77 left him way off the pace.

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GAELIC GAMES: Two goals in either half helped keep Mary I on course for a place in the quarter-finals of the Fitzgibbon Cup as they saw off Maynooth University 4-18 to 1-6 in their refixed Group C clash in Kildare.

It took eight minutes before Mary I found their range but once Sean Linnane raised their first white flag they were soon into their stride.

Darragh Corry and Declan Hannon found the net in the opening 20 minutes, and by the break they held a 2-9 to 0-3 lead over the Fitzgibbon newcomers.

Shane Farrelly's goal for Maynooth cut the deficit to 11 points with 15 minutes remaining.

But that was as close as they were to come as a late brace of goals from Tipperary's Stephen Cahill set up a winner-takes-all clash with IT Carlow for Mary I in the final round.

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ATHLETICS: A new national club men's 4 x 200m relay record of 1:29.89 saw Tallaght AC grab their first national senior league title with a count-back victory over Clonliffe Harriers in Athlone IT yesterday.

Leevale retained their women's title by just one point over Galway side Craughwell.

The Cork side grabbed the title on the final leg of the day's last event, the 4 x 200m relay.

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CRICKET: Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has been cleared to bowl after passing biomechanic tests on his remodelled action, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced yesterday.

A week before the start of the World Cup, the ICC said Ajmal and Bangladesh spinner Sohaq Gazi had been re-tested in Chennai last month and cleared to resume bowling in international cricket.

"At the retests, it was revealed that the amount of elbow extensions in both the off-spinners' bowling actions for all their deliveries was within the 15-degree level of tolerance," the world governing body said.

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CYCLING: Isle of Man rider Mark Cavendish won the Dubai Tour after sprinting to victory in the fourth and final stage yesterday.

The 29-year-old Etixx-Quick-Step rider began the day four seconds adrift of leader John Degenkolb, but he then claimed 10 bonus seconds as he raced to win the stage, which finished at the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Cavendish, who has won 25 Tour de France stages, finished in 15 hours, 22 minutes and 38 seconds, six seconds ahead of Germany's Degenkolb, who rides for Team Giant-Alpecin, and 10 in front of Movistar's Juan Jose Lobato.

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SNOOKER: Shaun Murphy defeated Liang Wenbo 6-4 in an enthralling contest to reach the final of the German Masters in Berlin for the first time.

Murphy, the 32-year-old world number 10, led 3-0 and then trailed 4-3 before taking the last three frames.

The Masters champion rattled in breaks of 141 and 145 and remains on course for his fifth trophy in 12 months.

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TENNIS: Great Britain saw their hopes of reaching the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs end with defeat to Belarus in Budapest.

Judy Murray's side had managed to secure an impressive victory over Ukraine on Friday to pip Turkey for a play-off spot, but they found Belarus a step too far as both Johanna Konta and Heather Watson fell to straight-sets defeats in the singles.

Konta was outplayed by Olga Govortsova as she succumbed to a 6-0 6-1 loss, while Watson was beaten 6-4 6-1 by two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.

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IRELAND'S women suffered a cruel stroke of ill-luck when they came up short in their Fed Cup relegation play-off yesterday against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Tallinn, Estonia.

In the opening singles contest, Ireland gained an unexpected win when Dublin teenager Lauren Deegan, making her Fed Cup debut, defied the odds to thrash 701-ranked Jelena Simic 6-0 6-2.

But then in a match in which Yvonne Doyle's charges were favourites, Irish No 1 Amy Bowtell pulled a stomach muscle late in the first set and was subsequently forced to serve underarm before losing 6-2 2-6 7-5 to Jasmine Tincic.

In the deciding doubles, Julie Byrne and Rachael Dillon suffered a 6-2 3-6 6-2 defeat against Simic and Anita Husaric, resulting in Ireland dropping down to Group Three of the Europe-Africa Zone for 2016, just 12 months after gaining promotion.

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HOCKEY: On the penultimate weekend of the Irish Hockey League, Three Rock Rovers assured their place in the play-offs following their 4-2 win over Lisnagarvey. Meanwhile, Monkstown, who had an easy 4-0 victory over UCC thanks to goals from Richard Sykes, Andrew Ward and David Carson, look odds-on to join them.

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HORSE RACING: Vibrato Valtat threw down the gauntlet to Irish sensation Un De Sceaux ahead of their clash in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy with an great display at Warwick.

The Paul Nicholls-trained grey completed a hat-trick in tremendous style as he swept aside the front-running Top Gamble in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase.

Sam Twiston-Davies enjoyed an armchair ride on Vibrato Valtat (6/5 favourite) to inflict a first defeat over fences on Top Gamble with a four-and-a-half-length verdict.

It was a fifth success in the Kingmaker for Nicholls and a double on the day for Twiston-Davies before he rushed off to ride at Newbury.

"He's good. He travelled so well and the good thing is that he's finishing his races now," said the jockey. "Paul's tinkered with him and he's turned into an Arkle horse."

Nicholls' assistant Tom Jonason added: "That was impressive. He's quick and polished now. His jumping is what keeps him in it."

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