Loreto set to take further action as appeal is dismissed


Hockey: Loreto's appeal against the Leinster Ladies Hockey Unions's decision to dock them three points for allegedly fielding an ineligible player, international Caitriona O'Kelly, against UCD in a league match in January has been rejected by the branch's disciplinary committee.

In response the club issued a statement yesterday expressing their disappointment with the decision and announcing that they will appeal it to the Irish Council.

With just two games to go in the league season the three points in question could yet be the difference between Loreto winning and losing the Senior A title - if their appeal to Ireland is successful they would be just one point behind leaders Old Alexandra, who they play on Saturday week, and one ahead of defending champions Hermes.

National coach Riet Kuper gave O'Kelly permission to play in the January match, when the player was unable to travel with the Irish squad to Barcelona for a two-week training camp because of work commitments, insisting that she would prefer her players to play club hockey rather than no hockey at all if they were unavailable for international duty in the build-up to this month's Olympic Qualifier.

Leinster, however, ruled that O'Kelly was ineligible to play in the game, which Loreto won 4-0, basing their decision on an earlier Irish Ladies' Hockey Union ruling that no internationals could play for their clubs in league matches after Christmas.

Tennis: Hicham Arazi claimed the biggest upset of his career in California on when he ousted an out-of-sorts Andre Agassi in the first round of the elite Masters Series Indian Wells.

Agassi, winner of three of the last four Grand Slam tournaments, holder of the coveted year-end world number one ranking in 1999 and current leader of the ATP championship points race, suffered his second early exit in as many weeks after losing in the second round in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I'm incredibly frustrated right now, that was a pitiful performance," an ATP Tour spokesman quoted Agassi as saying by telephone after a swift exit from the grounds.

Agassi was fined $1,000 for missing the post-match press conference, a sum that no doubt didn't cross his mind as he headed home to Las Vegas in the wake of Arazi's 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

Boxing: Lennox Lewis's promoter Panos Eliades yesterday claimed the undisputed world heavyweight champion will fight Johnny Ruiz, the World Boxing Association's number one contender, in Britain on July 15th.

Lewis is scheduled to fight American Michael Grant at Madison Square Garden, New York, on April 29th.

And the WBA threatened to strip Lewis of their version of the title if he did not make his first defence against Ruiz.

But Eliades claims the WBA told him by telephone that Lewis will be allowed to keep the belt if the Ruiz fight goes ahead at a venue to be decided.

Eliades is now waiting for written confirmation from the WBA.

Cricket: Legspinner Shane Warne became Australia's greatest wicket-taker in Test matches with his 356th dismissal on the final day of the first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland. Australia won by 62 runs.

Warne dismissed tailender Paul Wiseman to pass fast bowler Dennis Lillee's 16-year-old record of 355.

Warne, who had to take a back seat to fellow spinner Colin Miller, who took career best Test figures of 5-55, got his chance as Wiseman went to sweep, got a top edge off his glove for wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist to take an easy catch and give Warne the Australian record.

Warne (30) finished the innings with 2-80 off 20.3 overs. The record came in his 82nd Test match. Scores: Australia 214 and 229, New Zealand 163 and 218.