Monday 11 December 2017

Women's Rio dream is over

HOCKEY: The Irish women's bid for Olympic qualification ended as they fell 6-1 to the USA in Valencia. Ireland had earlier beaten the USA 2-0 in a pool game. The result means that Ireland will contest the seventh and eighth place playoff today in their final game of the tournament, knowing that they are out of the range of potential qualifiers for Rio 2016.

Anna O'Flanagan - with her fourth goal of the competition - got Ireland's only goal to bring the game to 4-1 but they never looked in the game after conceding twice in the opening 10 minutes.

Coach Darren Smith said it was a "devastating" outcome from a tournament filled with fine performances. Wins over South Africa, Uruguay and the USA saw Ireland advance to the quarter-finals as group winners where they pushed world number seven side China all the way but lost in a shoot-out with Olympic qualification on the line.

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BOXING: Limerick southpaw Andy Lee has confirmed that he will defend his WBO World middleweight belt in his home town against Billy Joe Saunders.

Lee yesterday tweeted that he will meet the British 2008 Olympian in Thomond Park on September 19.

Saunders, the mandatory challenger, accepted a substantial fee - believed to be a six-figure sum - to step aside and allow Lee defend against Peter Quillin in New York in April. But Quillin failed to make the weight, and the Brooklyn 12-rounder, which ended in a draw, was declared a non-title fight.

Lee injured his shoulder in the outing and the fight with Saunders was pushed back from this summer. However, both men will now finally meet on Shannonside in a showdown which has already been billed as the biggest fight on Irish soil in Irish pro boxing history.

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CRICKET: Ireland lost the second T20 international at Bready last night, writes Ger Siggins, and will be playing only for pride in the dead rubber today as they lie 2-0 down in the series. Despite an improved batting performance, Ireland were beaten by six wickets with 11 balls to spare as Scotland show signs of a revival under their new coach.

Ireland were unable to call on front-rank county players such as Niall O'Brien, Gary Wilson and William Porterfield, and also missed Ed Joyce and Tim Murtagh, who recently retired from T20s. George Dockrell and Andy Balbirnie flew in having missed the first game due to county action and both made useful contributions yesterday.

The Middlesex batsman hit a breezy 31 before he was run out trying to get Kevin O'Brien back on strike. O'Brien and Andrew Poynter both made 36 but Ireland needed someone to bat more than 30 balls.

New boy Tyrone Kane smacked a handy 26 not out to see Ireland to 166-6, and then took a wicket with the third ball of the Scottish innings. But Scotland's experienced batters were little troubled thereafter and Matt Cross (48) and Kyle Coetzer (34) saw them to 74 before a flurry of wickets by Dockrell gave Ireland hope.

It didn't last, however, as another big stand of 67 between Richie Berrington and Preston Mommsen saw the Scots home with ease.

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Jonny Bairstow bludgeoned a brilliant 83 not out in Durham to lead England to a three-wicket win over New Zealand on the Duckworth-Lewis method, earning a 3-2 victory in the five-match series of one-dayers.

In a rain-affected game at Chester-le-Street, Bairstow's classy knock helped England chase down a revised total of 192 from 26 overs with six balls to spare.

New Zealand hit 283-9 off 50 overs and looked to be cruising to victory after taking five early wickets.

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FORMULA ONE: world champion Lewis Hamilton took pole position for today's Austrian Grand Prix with Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg qualifying second on the grid.

The pole was Hamilton's seventh in eight races this season and was secured when both the Mercedes drivers skidded off the circuit on their final attempt of the session on a drying track after earlier rain. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel will line up in third place, with Brazilian Felipe Massa fourth for Williams.

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TENNIS: world number two Roger Federer edged past Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) yesterday to reach the Halle Open final, where he will face Italian Andreas Seppi, who went through when opponent Kei Nishikori retired injured.

The Swiss top seed, eyeing his eighth title in the grasscourt Wimbledon warm-up event, held serve throughout but was taken to two tie-breaks having failed to secure a single break point against the Croatian's powerful serve.

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RUGBY: New Zealand won the World Rugby U20 Championship for the fifth time, but their first title since 2011, after beating England 21-16 in Italy.

England began well with a Max Clark try giving them an early lead but tries from substitute Kiwi centre Vincent Tavae-Aso and Akira Ioane and 11 points from the boot of Otere Black were to deny England their third title in a row.

SOCCER: Stoke City have announced that Charlie Adam has signed a one-year contract extension, tying him to the club until 2017, with the option of a further extension until the following year.

The midfielder enjoyed an impressive season under Mark Hughes last term, scoring seven times, including a memorable strike from inside his own half against Chelsea.

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MOTOR SPORT: With two of the three days complete in the Joule Donegal International Rally, Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy yesterday increased their overnight lead to a clear 48 seconds over last year's winners, Declan and Brian Boyle, who settled in well to their new Ford Fiesta.

Jennings, who won the rally three years ago, set best time on Friday's opening stage in his Subaru Impreza, but dropped behind the Focus of Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan on the next two tests.

However, Jennings regained top place on the second run through Trentagh and stayed ahead all through yesterday.

Kelly lost his second position when he hit a rock on the Garrygort stage, losing a minute and dropping behind the Boyle cousins.

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