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Sports Roundup Munster ruggers win again

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — Beaten finalists last season, Munster are still on track to go one step better in the European Cup. Ireland’s leading rugby province registered a third successive victory with a convincing 31-9 win over Bath at Thomond Park last weekend, while Leinster ended holders’ Northampton’s interest in the competition thanks to a 14-8 result. Equally, Ulster made it a good weekend for Irish teams when they held Toulouse to a 35-35 draw in Toulouse.

Munster had to rely on a strong finish to keep their 100 percent record. Ahead by just 14-9 with 10 minutes left, tries by David Wallace and Anthony Horgan put paid to Bath’s chances. The impressive Horgan had also scored a first-half try and Ronan O’Gara added a further 16 points from kicks as Munster stayed at the top of Pool 4.

"We took another step forward in living up to the pressure that’s on us," said coach Declan Kidney. "We’re always conscious of the level of support, particulary in Limerick. But the players responded and the way we scored the final try really pleased me."

Munster now take on Bath in the return match on Saturday and a fourth victory would virtually assure them of a place in the quarterfinals.

Leinster too made an important move toward the knockout stages when they traveled to Northampton and came away with a priceless victory. Following a try by Denis Hickie in the first half, Leinster were able to edge ahead through a penalty apiece by Girvan Dempsey and Eddie Hekenui, while Brian O’Meara added a drop goal.

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Ulster appeared to be dead and buried in Toulouse when they trailed by 35-21 going into injury time. But a couple of magnificent tries by Jonathan Bell and James Topping both converted with steely nerve by David Humphreys earned them a draw that effectively eliminates Toulouse from the competition.

Ulster results

Following the shock departure from the competition of Crossmaglen Rangers, the semifinals of the Ulster club football championship were played out last weekend with Bellaghy of Derry coming through to meet Tyrone’s Errigal Chiarian in the decider.

Castleblaney Faughs, who had knocked out Crossmaglen, failed to keep their run going as Errigal Chiarain ran out 2-10 to 1-9 winners at Clones. Peter Canavan was the inspiration for his team’s success, scoring three points and generally making life difficult for the Castleblaney defense.

Bellaghy, meanwhile, got the better of Gowna of Cavan by 0-9 to 0-6 in a dour contest. Gowna manager Eamonn Coleman, who guided Derry to All-Ireland success in 1993, was incensed by the decision of referee Brendan Gorman not to award a penalty for a foul on Mark McKeever in the closing stages.

Other results

An outstanding first-half performance by Moorefield at Newbridge secured them a first Kildare football title since 1962. Leading by 2-10 to 0-1 at the break, Moorefield’s success was never in doubt, although Kilcock narrowed the gap in the second half to eventually lose out by 2-13 to 2-7.

Aughavas bridged a 35-year gap to capture the Leitrim championship with a 0-10 to 0-3 victory over Gortletteragh at Carrick-on-Shannon. Ahead by just 0-4 to 0-3 at the interval, Aughavas held their opponents scoreless during the second half to emerge as convincing winners.

In hurling, Dunloy of Antrim were easy winners of the Ulster club title when they defeated Derry’s Slaughtneil by 4-14 to 0-9 in last weekend’s decider at Casement Park. The Carlow county crown went to St. Mullin’s, who saw off the challenge of Naomh Eoin by 2-10 to 2-2, while Four Roads won the Roscommon title with 1-11 to 0-5 success against Athleague.

Fleury quits Offaly

Offaly hurling manager Pat Fleury quit last week after just one season in charge. Citing time and travel factors as the reasons for his decision, Fleury’s time at the helm has been dogged by difficulties within the county.

Apart from the victories over Wexford and then Cork in the All-Ireland semifinal, Offaly’s year was disappointing and culminated with that heavy defeat in the All-Ireland decider by Kilkenny. There was controversy when John Troy initially said he was unavailable for selection, only to return later in the championship, and Fleury was criticized for not pickiing Hubert Rigney. His selectors Ger Coughlan and Pat Cleary also stood down.

Paralympian injured

There was both joy and disappointment for Ireland at the Paralympics in Sydney last week. Catherine Walsh won a bronze medal in the pentathlon. However, Bridie Lynch, a gold medal winner in Atlanta four years ago, was forced out through injury.

Walsh had to battle to get on the rostrum and her fifth place finish in the last discipline, the 800 meters, moved her up to third place overall, but Lynch had to withdraw from the competition because of a hamstring injury.

Still, there was the opportunity to go in the discus, the event in which she took gold in 1996, but trouble struck in training. Lynch, who has only partial vision, was blinded by the mid-afternoon sun and one of her throws ricocheted off the protective cage and landed on her foot. Stretched away in agony, the diagnosis was four broken bones and a fractured toe – and this was supposed to be Lynch’s last major championships.

"You don’t finish like this," she said. "I couldn’t leave it here. I’ll live to fight another day, that’s all you can do."

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