Ireland out to hold their own in Faroes
VOLLEYBALL: A well-prepared Irish junior women's team competes in a qualification round for the European Small Nations Championships in the Faroe Islands with a good chance of winning at least one match.
The top two teams book a place at the European Small Nations finals in Cyprus next April.
First up for the Irish next Thursday is the host nation, the Faroe Islands. "We've been told that they're much the same standard as ourselves, so we have a chance of winning," says team coach Marie Sheridan.
A day later, the team faces Liechtenstein. "Last time we played them we lost, but got into double figures in all the sets. We're not going to be the pushover they expect."
The last and toughest match is against Luxembourg, by some way the strongest team in the group, with semi-pro players to call on.
"Overall, we're hoping for the best," added Sheridan. "Two years ago we were totally outclassed in this tournament. That isn't going to happen this time -- the girls are a lot more streetwise and court-wise. They've played a lot of volleyball together."
Captaining the side is Katie Nolan of Naas, winner of an Evening Herald Schools Sports Star of the Week award just before Christmas.
She's joined by two sets of sisters, also from Naas -- twins Karen and Sarah Benn and Heather and Aisling Clancy, along with other Naas "reliables" Aebhin Nugent and Orla Lynch.
The full team is: Katie Nolan (Naas Cobras, captain), Aebhin Nugent (Naas), Ailish Loughnane (Loughrea), Aisling Clancy (Naas), Amy McDonnell (Loughrea), Ciara O'Rourke (Loughrea), Elaine McGreary (Kilkenny), Heather Clancy (Naas), Karen Benn (Naas), Lisa Needham (Kiltimagh), Orla Lynch (Naas) and Sarah Benn (Naas).
ORIENTEERING: Aislinn Kendall and Nicolas Simonin have won orienteering's high performance awards for 2011 as the top ranked Irish male and female orienteers for the year.
Kendall made an impressive return to international competition last season, qualifying for the middle distance final at the World Championships.
Simonin, competing internationally since 2009, performed consistently well all season and ended up with a world ranking of 155.
BADMINTON: Milton Keynes is the venue for the second round of the English Intercounty Championships on January 14/15, with Leinster aiming to retain their place in the Premier B division.
They play Yorkshire B, Lancashire and Buckinghamshire.
The team is -- Men: Niall Tierney, Eddie Cousins, Dan Magee, David Gannon, Mark Cobbe. Women: Fiona Glennon, Pauline Glennnon, Jennie King, Claire Flood, Keelin Hogan, Kirsty Kelly.
SNOOKER: Rodney Goggins, Brendan O'Donoghue of New Institute and Vincent Muldoon of Maynooth SC, who have won snooker's three ranking tournaments so far this season, do battle again in the fourth round of the series in the Ivy Rooms, Carlow, on January 14/15.
Goggins, of the 147 Club in Wexford, currently tops the table ahead of O'Donoghue, with Muldoon third and John Sutton of Celbridge a close fourth.
TRIATHLON: A packed triathlon calendar for 2012 will include at least 120 events all over the country. Among the new events is the "Escape from Spike Island" triathlon in Cork and the Rosslare Olympic Triathlon.
Starting the season on January 29 is a Mini-Tri organised by Trinity College Dublin -- a 200m pool swim, 5km bike on turbo trainers and 1.5km run.
Entry is €15, with €10 going to the Trinity Access Programmme. Info www.triathlon.tcdlife.ie