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Murphy misses 400m final but silver service raises bar for Irish

SWIMMING: Wexford teenager Gráinne Murphy may have not have had enough in the tank to reach the women's 400 metres freestyle final yesterday, but it couldn't take the gloss off an extraordinary week for the 17-year-old which was topped by a silver medal in Saturday's 1,500 metres freestyle final.

Obviously jaded after three taxing finals in six days, Murphy was 12th overall in yesterday's heats in a respectable time of 4:14.09, but two and a half seconds outside the last of the qualifiers.

That performance was in sharp contrast to Saturday night as she stood on the victory rostrum at a packed stadium at Margaret Island -- which lies slap bang in the middle of the mighty river Danube -- and took richly deserved plaudits for her silver medal performance in the 1,500 metres freestyle, the longest event in the pool. Murphy finished in a time of 16:02.29 in Budapest.

Swim Ireland's high performance director Peter Banks believes she has raised the bar to a level that others need to follow.

Banks, pleased with the overall performance by the Irish team in Budapest, now wants others to step up and deliver at major championships in the lead up to London 2012.

Banks said: "I think many swimmers can now learn from GrĂ¡inne. They can look and see what she is doing, how she is working and the dedication she brings to training."

Gillick blazes to fifth at Crystal Palace

ATHLETICS: David Gillick got his season back on track with a solid fifth place from lane eight at the Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace, where he was the second European home in the 400m won by American Jeremy Wariner in 44.67 seconds.

The only European ahead of Gillick (who ran 45.79) was Britain's European silver medallist Michael Bingham, with the two other European medalists -- Kevin Borlee and Martyn Rooney -- both finishing behind the DSD star. Irish team-mate Paul Hession could only finish seventh (20.79) from lane one in the 200m won by America's Wallace Spearmon in 20.12.

Elsewhere, Clonliffe Harriers won the Premier men's division with 136 points at the Woodies DIY National League finals in Tullamore, well clear of Dundrum South Dublin on 97.5 and City of Derry on 97, the same total as Menapians, who lost on a countback.

Elwood rallies Connacht after early hiding

RUGBY: New Connacht coach Eric Elwood has demanded a big response from his men after their 40-7 hammering by Harlequins in their opening pre-season game at the weekend.

Connacht will host Saracens on Saturday in their second and final pre-season match and Elwood wants a response after seeing his side go down by six tries to one in his first game in charge.

The defeat was exacerbated by a hip injury that forced skipper Johnny O'Connor to go off after just 15 minutes, which leaves him doubtful for the opening game of the Magners League against Newport Gwent Dragons on Saturday fortnight. "It's a disappointing result, to concede six tries at home, and our focus now is to rectify some of the areas that were highlighted," Elwood said.

Toronto win lifts Murray's US Open hopes

TENNIS: Andy Murray arrived in Canada without a coach and a title this season and left yesterday as a major contender for the US Open after a stunning defence of his Toronto Masters crown.

Murray capped an imperious week on the Canadian hardcourts in style with a clinical 7-5 7-5 win over Roger Federer to become the first back-to-back winner of the event since Andre Agassi in 1995.

Meanwhile, at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, Dublin's John Morrissey yesterday clinched a second-round place. The world U18 No30 disposed of Ecuador's 139-ranked Diego Acosta 7-5 6-1 in the hard-court event.

MLB: Cleveland 9 Seattle 1, Cincinnati 2 Florida 0, Atlanta 13 LA Dodgers 1, Washington 5 Arizona 3, Tampa Bay 3 Baltimore 2, Houston 8 Pittsburgh 2, Chicago White Sox 8 Detroit 13 , Kansas City 1 NY Yankees 0, Minnesota 4 Oakland 2, St Louis 7 Chicago Cubs 9, Texas 7 Boston 3, Colorado 6 Milwaukee 5, LA Angels 1 Toronto 4 , San Francisco 2 San Diego 8, NY Mets 1 Philadelphia 3.