Sports digest

 

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

Stoner announces he is going to quit at the end of the season

MOTOR SPORT:Twice MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner said yesterday he had lost his love for the sport and would retire at the end of the 2012 season.

The 26-year-old Australian won the 2007 crown with Ducati and the 2011 title with Honda, and leads the world standings by one point ahead of Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo heading into the fourth race of the season this weekend.

“After a long time thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife, this has been coming for a couple of years now,” Stoner said in Le Mans ahead of the French Grand Prix.

“I will be finishing my career at the end of this season in MotoGP, and go forward in different things in my life.

“After so many years of doing this sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we have gotten to at this point, this sport has changed a lot and it has changed to the point where I am not enjoying it.

“I don’t have the passion for it and so at this time it’s better if I retire now.”

Pritchard names London Cup squad

HOCKEY:Denis Pritchard, the recently-appointed interim coach of the Irish senior team, has named his 18-player squad for next month’s Investec London Cup. The tournament is being used by Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany and South Africa as a warm-up for the Olympic Games.

There are no new caps in the squad, 14 of whom were included in the panel for March’s Olympic Qualifier in Belgium. Hannah Bowe (Slough), Niamh Small (Loreto) and UCD pair Niamh Atcheler and Anna O’Flanagan return, replacing Shirley McCay (Old Alexandra), Lisa Jacob (Hermes), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto) and Emma Smyth (Railway Union).

“This event presents us with an unique occasion to play with freedom, to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world and to give valuable pitch time to some less experienced players,” said Pritchard. – MARY HANNIGAN

IRISH SQUAD: S McCarthy, A O’Flynn, A Connery, E Gray, M Crowley (all Hermes), N Atcheler, C Watkins, A O’Flanagan (all UCD), N Small, N Symmons, N Daly (all Loreto), H Bowe (Slough), A Speers, N Evans (both Railway Union), E Clarke (St Albans), M Harvey (Pegasus), C Sargent (Cork Harlequins), P Smithwick (Old Alexandra).

Ireland coach Revington to leave position in June

HOCKEY:The Irish men’s hockey coach Paul Revington is to leave his position by the end of June. The decision by the highly-respected South African will be seen as a significant blow to the national team, who were minutes away from qualification for London 2012 earlier this year. It took a late goal from Korea to scupper Irish claims of a qualification place in the Olympics for the first time in the sports’ history.

Revington was popular among the elite group of players and had gained significant international attention in the way he took Ireland from a second-tier international side to a squad capable of beating any team in the world on the day. He will undoubtedly receive job offers after the Olympics.

It is believed a major sponsor was to come on board with the Irish team but that was contingent on Revington staying on as the national coach. His decision may also have a knock-on effect on some players who would be considering their future in the game. The Irish Hockey Association are expected to confirm the decision in the coming days.

– JOHNNY WATTERSON

Harris-Wright and Murphy join the Connacht ranks

RUGBY:Coach Eric Elwood has been busy extending Connacht’s squad and has added Jason Harris-Wright from Bristol and Brian Murphy from Galwegians to the Connacht ranks. Both join on one-year deals.

Hooker Harris-Wright (24) is a product of the Leinster Academy and has 11 senior appearances for the club as well as four Heineken Cup matches under his belt including the 2011 final victory over Northampton Saints.

Fullback-cum-centre Murphy earns his first professional contract, having joined from All Ireland League club side Galwegians. Murphy was voted the senior club player of the year at the recent Connacht annual awards having performed consistently over the course of the season.

Bonfire sets York alight in Dante

RACING:The Andrew Balding-trained Bonfire is now 5 to 1 from 10 to 1 for the Investec Epsom Derby with Boylesport – and the most serious threat to favourite Camelot – after an impressive comeback performance in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York yesterday.

The son of Manduro could hardly have promised more in his two starts as a juvenile, looking a class-act on his racecourse debut at Salisbury before finishing a luckless third in the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

His seasonal return had been shifted from last week’s Dee Stakes at Chester due to the rain-softened ground on the Roodee and it proved a wise decision.

The colt travelled supremely well in the hands of Jimmy Fortune and quickened past the well-supported Ballydoyle-based favourite Ernest Hemingway in most taking style. It was recent Newbury winner Ektihaam who moved stylishly out of the pack to throw down a challenge, but it failed by three-quarters of a length.

Guineas winner Camelot is now 4 to 5 for next month’s premier Classic.