Sports digest

Wed, Oct 3, 2012, 01:00

A round-up of today's other stories in brief

Record prize pot for Australian Open

TENNIS:Australian Open organisers have moved to stave off the threat of a strike by leading male players by offering a record prize pot for the opening grand slam event of the 2013 season. There were reports in August suggesting the tournament could be boycotted in a protest by players who believe they should be a given a higher percentage of tournament revenues.

The issue, which was addressed at a players’ meeting in Melbourne ahead of last year’s event, is centred around prize money for those who lose in the early rounds.

The total pot in Melbourne in January will be 30 million Australian dollars, which represents a rise of four million Australian dollars on the 2012 tournament, making it the richest in tennis history.

“We are proud to announce this major increase in prize money. We have led the world in prize money for these incredible athletes and we want to ensure that the Australian Open continues to make a major contribution to the financial wellbeing of professional tennis players,” Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said.

Starspangledbanner to feature in Group Three at Tipperary

RACING:Tipperary’s Sunday feature will be the Group Three Coolmore Concorde Stakes for which 10 entries were left in the seven-furlong contest at yesterday’s forfeit stage.

They include the Haydock Sprint Cup runner-up Gordon Lord Byron as well as the ex-Australian Starspangledbanner, who was runner-up to Maarek at the Curragh on the second start of his comeback following a failed stint at stud.

The National Hunt feature at Tipperary could see a mouth-watering clash between the progressive Galway Hurdle hero Rebel Fitz and the dual-French Champion Hurdle winner Thousand Stars in the Grade Two Friends Of Tipperary Hurdle.

Willie Mullins’s top-class grey is among the 11 left in the race and may have a first start since his Auteuil heroics in late June.

– BRIAN O’CONNOR

McGee still in hunt at Frilford Heath

GOLF:Rúaidhrí McGee gave a good display at Frilford Heath yesterday to lie just off the pace in the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.

The 21-year-old Derry-born former Irish interpro boys’ champion, who is now based in the Murcia region of Spain, carded a two-under-par 70 to give himself a chance of making progress.

Former Ulster under-15 champion McGee, who set up his own website and sold advertising to finance his golf, started with three birdies and had two birdies in the last three holes.

His only blemishes were a double bogey six on the eighth and a bogey on the 17th.

Florida-based Chris Devlin was the only other Irish player who kept in touch with the leaders at Frilford Heath – he had a 73. David Rawluk shot 76 and there were 78s for Brian Casey and John-Daniel Guiney, with Mike Kelly slumping to 82. Setting the pace is Welshman Liam Bond with a 67.

Meanwhile at Ribagolfe in Portugal Glen Robinson of St Helen’s Bay led the Irish charge with a 70, just one behind the leaders.

Counihan offered two-year extension as Cork manager

GAELIC GAMES:Conor Counihan was last offered a two-year extension to his term as Cork senior football manager, although his exact intentions on whether to take up that offer remain somewhat unclear.

A meeting of the Cork County Board last night agreed that Counihan should be afforded the position for another two years.

All the indications are Counihan will take up the offer, and once he indicates that to the county board then no further vote is required: it means that unless there is a sudden change of heart, Counihan will continue for at least a sixth season, even if this summer’s campaign ended on a disappointing note.

A statement from the Cork board last night read, “at its meeting of October 2nd, Cork County Board decided to invite outgoing senior football manager Conor Counihan to accept a further two-year term at the helm.

“Having won four National League titles, two McGrath Cups, two Munster Championships and an All-Ireland title during his term, Counihan has been one of the most successful Cork football managers ever.”

– IAN O’RIORDAN

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