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Pakistan series ahead for Irish

CRICKET: Ireland has confirmed a two-match one-day international series with Pakistan will take place in May.

Pakistan will base themselves in Ireland for a week, using the two fixtures as their preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy which starts on June 6.

The games will take place on May 23 and May 26, with the venues still to be finalised.

"It's fantastic news for Irish cricket, and we're grateful to both ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board for making the series possible," said Ireland coach Phil Simmons.

"Pakistan are a formidable one-day side and it's a great way of measuring where we are as a team. We've had some wonderful tussles with them in the past, and for many, Irish cricket was born the day we beat them in the 2007 World Cup. That win grabbed the attention of the world and we haven't looked back since."

Oprah: Lance can be a hero again

CYCLING: Oprah Winfrey believes Lance Armstrong can be a hero again and she thinks people will be willing to forgive him.

Winfrey said the hardest thing Armstrong has done in his life is confess in an interview with her last week he used performance- enhancing drugs to win his seven Tour de France titles.

"If he is willing to do the work ... he can be a real hero," Winfrey said during a lecture in Edmonton.

She said Armstrong's fall from grace is so huge, it means a lot that he has finally come clean.

But he also needs to realise his life is not just about a bike, races or a big mistake.

She added: "Everybody has the ability within them to rise again.

"What really matters in the world is what kind of human being he chooses to be."

Britton is voted European best

ATHLETICS: Fionnuala Britton has been voted European Athlete of the Month for December, just reward for winning the European Cross Country Championships.

Britton won the monthly award for defending her continental title with a tactically perfect race in Budapest to become the first senior woman to manage back-to-back victories at the event.

Andrea Lalli of Italy, who took the men's title in Budapest, was given the men's award.

NBA: Memphis 81 Indiana 82 , New Orleans 114 Sacramento 105, Charlotte 94 Houston 100, Atlanta 104 Minnesota 96, NY Knicks 85 Brooklyn 88 , Golden State 106 LA Clippers 99, Philadelphia 85 San Antonio 90, Chicago 95 LA Lakers 83, Portland 95 Washington 98.