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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Irish on top of world

TENNIS: Former Irish Fed Cup international Lesley O'Halloran led an Irish over-45 team to a first ever world title at the World Senior Tennis Championships in San Diego, USA.

The Irish squad of O'Halloran, US-based Philippa Palmer, Niamh Kennedy and Grace Reidy caused a sensation when they knocked out top seeds the USA in the round robin stages. They beat Poland and the Netherlands to finish top of the group, before marching on to take the title after a thrilling final against France.

In the individual competition that followed, O'Halloran made it to the semi-finals before losing to US player Jennifer Dawson.

O'Halloran and Palmer also made the doubles semis.

KICKBOXING: After a few years out of the ring, Dublin kickboxer Barbara Delaney added two more world titles to her collection when she beat Ana Roxo from Portugal in an all- woman Fightclub show at Dublin's Artane Beaumont centre.

Fighting in the under 60kg class for both WIMAAO and WKL titles, three-times world champion Delaney took a couple of rounds to get the measure of her taller opponent. The Dubliner finally slipped inside her rival's long kicks to connect in the second round and after that there was no stopping her. Although Roxo looked like giving up about halfway through the eight-round match, she battled her way to the final bell when Delaney's arm was raised in victory. The show featured eight other title fights.

BADMINTON: Alpha from Lisburn made a clean sweep at the Irish Senior, Junior and Intermediate Badminton Cups in NUI Galway. In the Senior Cup final, Alpha beat Dublin club Mount Pleasant 4-0. They also beat Mount Pleasant in the junior decider, while in the intermediate final, Sligo TC put up a great fight before losing 2-4.

SNOOKER: The Irish team of Rodney Goggins, John Sutton and Greg Casey should make the knock-out stages of snooker's European Team and U21 Championships starting in Sofia, Bulgaria on March 9. In the qualifying round robin, they face teams from Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Ukraine and host nation Bulgaria. Also competing are two Irish masters' teams. Leading the Irish squad in the European U21 competition is Ryan Cronin from the Crucible club in Cork, currently the top-ranked Irish player in this grade. Also selected are Karl Fitzpatrick of Ivy Rooms, Carlow, David Cassidy of Crucible Cork and Josh Boileau of Newbridge CYMS.

HOCKEY: Just two weeks remain until the start of the Olympic men's hockey qualifying tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in UCD. The Irish men face Russia in their opening match on Saturday, March 10 and then Ukraine a day later, followed by Korea, Chile and Malaysia. Tickets at www.hockey.ie.

RUGBY LEAGUE: Ireland's rugby league team, the Wolfhounds, travel to Philadelphia for this year's Donnybrook Cup match against the USA Tomahawks on St Patrick's Day. The USA, who recently qualified for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, won last year's Donnybrook Cup match 26-8.

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