Sports digest


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

Morgan majestic

CRICKET:England celebrated their first victory over South Africa this summer after half-centuries from Eoin Morgan and Jonathan Trott saw them to a four-wicket win in the third match of the NatWest Series.

Having lost the Test series 2-0 and fallen 1-0 behind after two matches of the one-day leg, England turned the tide at the Kia Oval courtesy of Morgan’s fluent 73 and a stoic 71 from Trott. The bowlers played their part by dismissing the tourists for 211, Ravi Bopara miserly with one wicket for 31 runs in 10 overs.

Rain washes out Spa-Francorchamps practice

MOTOR SPORT:Steady rain washed out Belgian Grand Prix practice yesterday, with Formula One fans huddled under umbrellas in the forests and gazing at a deserted track while drivers took shelter in the garages.

The afternoon session ended without a timed lap on the board, although some extremely slow times were registered on the screens after drivers went out to perform practice standing starts on the grid at the finish.

Marussia’s French rookie Charles Pic was top of that list, almost certainly the only time this year the tail-ender will find himself in such a position, with a time of two minutes 49.354 seconds.

“It’s a shame for fans around the track – it’s quite windy and probably not so nice out on the grandstands,” said Red Bull’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel.

“Hopefully they can come back tomorrow with dry clothes and we’ll have some sunshine – that’s the forecast anyway. You can’t race in these conditions, as the tyres can’t get rid of the water.”

The lack of afternoon activity meant Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi could claim the fastest lap (a 2:11.389 in the morning session) by any driver in August – an easy feat given yesterday was the first running since the end of July when the holiday break started.

Ferrari’s championship leader Fernando Alonso, who has a 40 point lead over Australian Mark Webber after 11 of the 20 races, spent most of the afternoon as a spectator as teams gave up attempts to test new developments.

Alonso had been 22nd in the morning with a time 29.360 seconds slower than Kobayashi.

“We wom’t see until tomorrow how good the upgrades are working,” said McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

While commentators padded furiously to make up for the lack of track action, teams and drivers kept themselves amused on social network Twitter.

“Someone’s fired up an engine. Probably just trying to keep warm,” commented @redbullf1spy from the paddock where temperatures hovered around 11 degrees.

The Hills and Balbriggan going for glory in all-Ireland finals

CRICKET:Fingal has a chance to show why they like to call it the home of cricket in Ireland as both The Hills and Balbriggan go for glory over the weekend in the finals of the two All-Ireland competitions.

The Hills are first up at Castle Avenue in Clontarf this morning (11am) in the final of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup, where they take on 2010 champions Merrion.

They may be missing Ireland under-19 all-rounder Tyrone Kane, who stayed on in Australia for a holiday following the recent World Cup, but have bags of batting talent, with Irish internationals Dom Joyce and skipper John Anderson, as well as Australian professional Tim Lang.

They will come up against a Hills bowling attack that has been outstanding this summer, led by former Ireland international Naseer Shaukat and Max Sorensen, who has become a mainstay of Phil Simmons’s side since making his international debut.

It will prove the key battle of the final, but if Merrion can hold out against a searching examination with the new ball, they have the talent and vitally, the experience, of getting the job done in big finals.

Balbriggan also face a tough task in the inaugural RSA National Cup Final as they take on Muckamore at Milverton tomorrow (11.30).

Former Ireland international Barry Archer captains the side and will be hoping their familiarity with The Hills’ ground in Skerries can help them become the first name engraved on the trophy.


Grehan claims Irish Youths Close title

GOLF:Stuart Grehan is the Irish Youths Amateur Close Champion after he defeated Conor Coyne (Youghal) in a three-hole play-off for the title in Loughrea.

The Tullamore man lost a ball off his tee-shot on the first hole in the final round, but recovered well and when he birdied the 16th and parred the last two holes, he found himself in a play-off against Coyne, who had a marvellous final day in which he shot rounds of 67 and 70 to surge through the field.

After both finished on one-under 283, Coyne and Grehan competed in the play-off, the decisive turn at which came at the second (the par-three fourth), where Coyne took five to Grehan’s four (both players having made par-fours at the first).

A solid par at the difficult par-four fifth sealed victory for Grehan after Coyne found trouble in the trees on the right.

Like Coyne, Grehan had earlier made his decisive moves in the third round with a pair of 67s — the former adding a 70 in round 4 while Grehan finished with a 72.

Shaun Carter (Stackstown) finished just outside the playoff mark with a 73 for 285.

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