Sports Digest


Other sports news in brief

Smith helps the Aussie cause

CRICKET:New South Wales prodigy Steven Smith lived up to the hype after making an international debut to remember as Australia snatched Twenty20 victory from the jaws of defeat against Pakistan at the MCG.

The leg-spinning - who was one of two debutants along with Travis Birt - showed nerves of steel to swing a game that looked lost Australias way with two wickets in successive overs as the home side somehow defended a total of just 127.

St Mary's hold on for League Cup title

RUGBY: St Mary’s 9 Old Belvedere 3.Fullback Gavin Dunne (2) and his replacement Stuart O’Flannagan kicked the three penalties between them to give St Mary’s College the Leinster Senior League Cup crown at Donnybrook last night.

It could have gone either way with Dunne and O’Flannagan pushing Mary’s out to a six-point lead with time running out. Belvo’ outhalf Andy Dunne shot the penalty for his side and they camped on the winners line for the last five minutes without any reward.

WINTER OLYMPICS: Britains Alpine skiing and snowboarders will be able to compete at the Vancouver Olympics despite their governing body going into administration yesterday.

However, the BOA said it had formed a subsidiary company to satisfy the requirements of Alpine skiing world governing body FIS.

Lack of testing in boxing a concern

DOPING:The continued failure of boxing authorities to comply with standard drug testing procedures is a concern, World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) director general David Howman said yesterday.

Drug testing has been discussed at length following the collapse last month of a proposed bout between the sports best pound-for-pound fighters, Floyd Mayweather Jr (40-0) and Filipino Manny Pacquiao (50-3-2).

Pacquiao refused to the American’s request for Olympic-style random blood testing and will fight Ghanaian Joshua Clottey instead on March 13th.

“There are countless numbers of bodies that profess to be running boxing and holding boxing fights, none of them fall under any umbrella body that has made any attempt to be a part of Wada,” Howman said.

“It is obvious they (organising bodies) are not making any attempt to clean up their sport.”

Ireland pay for poor defending

WOMEN’S HOCKEY:Ireland’s first competitive match in six months ended in a 3-0 defeat away to Belgium yesterday, coach Gene Muller conceding his team looked more than a little “rusty”.

Nicci Daly (Loreto) and Audrey OFlynn (UCC) made their senior debuts in a game that saw the hosts take the lead 10 minutes before half-time. O’Flynn fired home Ireland’s only short corner of the game soon after the break, but the ‘goal’ was disallowed for dangerous play. Poor defending led to Belgium’s second after 50 minutes, their third coming five minutes from time. The teams meet again in Nivelles on Sunday morning.

FORMULA ONE:Force India rejected a report yesterday that they were in danger of being forced out of business and said their new Formula One car would start testing as planned in Spain next week.

A spokeswoman said the new VJM03 car had passed all its mandatory crash tests.

AIB bring to an end League deal

RUGBY:The Allied Irish Bank sponsorship of the All Ireland League will come to an end on completion of this year’s competition on May 8th according to an IRFU statement released yesterday, reports Johnny Watterson.

The bank, which recently suffered record losses, has supported rugby and domestic games initiatives for 13 seasons and established one of the country’s longest standing relationships between a sports organisation and a corporate entity.

“I would like to most sincerely thank AIB for its generous support and backing. The bank has been a significant partner to the IRFU during this time and an important supporter of club rugby in Ireland,” said IRFU President John Callaghan.

Maurice Crowley, General Manager, AIB said that the natural lifespan of the agreement had finally come to an end.

“We feel that after 13 years, our sponsorship of the AIB League and Cup has come to a natural conclusion.”

Australian appeal may rule out Irish bobsleigh team

WINTER OLYMPICS:Ireland’s women’s bobsleigh team of Aoife Hoey and Claire Bergin are in danger of missing out at the Winter Olympics, which begin in Vancouver next Friday, due to a late legal move by the Australian Olympic Committee, reports Ian O’Riordan.

The Australian’s submitted a lengthy legal appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) contending that they should be given a position in the final line-up of the 20 teams competing in the women’s event – and should they be successful, the net effect could be that they will replace the Irish team.

The Irish team achieved higher qualification standards than the Australian team, and is in 19th position on the qualification table. Japan is in 20th place and completes the quota for performance at the Games. But the Australian challenge is that, being on the continent of Oceania, this entitles them automatically, despite much weaker performances than Ireland, to a guaranteed place in the final line-up.

Ireland seventh in Nations Cup

EQUESTRIAN:Ireland finished seventh in yesterday’s Nations’ Cup in Abu Dhabi where Britain ran out the impressive winners on a zero score, reports Margie McLoone.

The Irish quartet got through to the second round with eight faults, a clear from Billy Twomey and J’Taime Flamenco being backed up by four faults from Dermott Lennon (Hallmark Elite), Cameron Hanley (SIEC Caro Ass) and Cian O’Connor (Rancorrado).

Hanley recorded the best Irish score in round two with just a single time penalty but Hallmark Elite lowered three fences while Je T’Aime Flamenco picked up nine penalties. Unfortunately, Rancorrado suffered a minor overreach in the warm-up arena between rounds and was withdrawn by O’Connor. The Irish team won €4,000 for their efforts which was donated to Goal’s Haiti relief fund.