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Irish on course for Olympics

Ireland's lightweight men's four are on course for Beijing after they won their opening heat at the Olympic qualifying regatta in Poland.

ROWING: Ireland's lightweight men's four are on course for Beijing after they won their opening heat at the Olympic qualifying regatta in Poland, seizing the lead in the dying seconds of the race.

Paul Griffin, Richard Archibald, Gearoid Towey and Cathal Moynihan now progress directly to the 'A' final tomorrow when the first two boats across the line will qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

After finishing sixth in the 'A' final two weeks ago in Lucerne, the Irishmen were drawn in the favoured centre lane alongside Serbia.

But it was Spain who made all the running, extending their one-second lead over Ireland at 500m to almost two seconds at halfway. The Irishmen were never out of touch, however, and had narrowed the margin to less than a second with 500m to go.

As strokeman Paul Griffin raised the rate to a punishing 43 strokes a minute, an air of desperation crept into the Spanish rhythm, as Ireland crossed the line almost half a length clear.

O'Rourke in form

ATHLETICS: Irish hurdler Derval O'Rourke looks to be getting back to her best after she finished second in the 100 metres at the Josef Odlozil memorial meeting in Prague.

In doing so she ran her fastest time for two years, clocking 12.90, appreciably quicker than the 12.99 she produced in her first race of the season two weeks ago.

Aurelia Trywianska-Kollasch of Poland came first in 12.81, a meeting record, with German Kirsten Bolm, third in 13.07.

O'Rourke and Bolm were involved in that famous deadheat in the event at the European Championships in Gothenburg two years ago when the Cork woman set her Irish record of 12.72. Her best last year was 12.91 in her heat at the World Championships.

Kearney for Lions

RUGBY: Leinster's Rob Kearney looks to have put himself in pole position to book his place on the Lions Tour to South Africa next year.

The versatile player turned in two outstanding performances against New Zealand and Australia at full-back.

Apart from the fact that Kearney's climb up the ranks will add extra spice to next year's battle for the No 15 shirt as both Girvan Dempsey and Geordan Murphy try to reclaim the berth, it has now placed the 22-year-old right in the reckoning for the Lions.

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