Morning Sports Update

GAELIC GAMES

Diarmuid Connolly has opted not to appeal against his 12-week suspension.

The Dublin forward received the ban for laying his hands on sideline official Ciarán Branagan in their win over Carlow last weekend.


He’ll now be out of action until Dublin’s possible All-Ireland semi-final.

At 5 today – Cork take on Tipperary in the Munster Football semis at Pairc Uí Rinn. Colm O’Driscoll is in on the Cork team. With Aidan Walsh injured and Alan O’Connor suspended it means Kevin O’Driscoll starts in midfield with Colm in the half-forward line.

Innovate Wexford Park is set for a sell-out for this evening’s Leinster Senior Hurling semi-final between Wexford and Kilkenny at 7.

Wexford beat the Cats in the quarter-finals of the League this year and former Galway manager Anthony Cunningham thinks the Models are well equipped to repeat the trick

Croke Park plays host to the Nicky Rackard, Lory Meagher and Christy Ring hurling Finals.

Leitrim take on Warwickshire in the Lory Meagher decider at 1 while Ulster rivals Derry and Armagh square off in the Rackard Final at 3.

The winners of the Christy Ring decider between Carlow and Antrim at 5 will also advance to an All-Ireland qualifier against Laois.

RUGBY

Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale makes his senior Ireland debut tonight.

He’s the only uncapped player in an inexperienced fifteen to face the USA in New Jersey.

With several established internationals away with the British and Irish Lions, four more players could win their first caps from the bench.
The game is at 10.

Gregor Townsend takes charge of his first match as Scotland’s rugby union head coach this afternoon.

They’re in Singapore to face Italy from 1.

A young and inexperienced England side play the first of two Tests away to Argentina in San Juan at 8.15 tonight.

18-year-old flanker Tom Curry will become the youngest England debutante since Jonny Wilkinson in 1998.

Three others win their first caps from the start, with another seven possible from the bench.

Regular captain Dylan Hartley is one of the more established players in a line-up depleted by British and Irish Lions selection.

TENNIS

After being touted as a potential grand slam champion for a number of years, Simona Halep’s the big favourite to win the French Open women’s singles title later.

The Romanian would also go top of the world rankings if she beats 20-year-old Latvian Jelena Ostapenko – who is in her first major final.

Halep’s not short of motivation

The match is at 2.

SOCCER

England can take a big step towards World Cup qualification this evening by beating old rivals Scotland at Hampden.

Gareth Southgate’s side lead Group F by four points at the halfway stage.

Harry Kane will captain the team in his first match since Southgate took charge.

The Tottenham striker’s last England appearance came in Sam Allardyce’s only game as manager – September’s 1-nil win in Slovakia.
The game is at 5.

A blunder from France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saw Sweden snatch a dramatic stoppage-time winner to open up the battle at the top of World Cup European qualifying Group A.

Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud fired Les Bleus into the lead in the 37th minute with a superb volley into the top corner after taking the ball down at the far post.

Sweden hit back just before the break when midfielder Jimmy Durmaz lashed in an angled drive.

Jakob Johansson and then the visitors’ forward Antoine Griezmann both had chances before, with just seconds of three minutes of added time remaining, Spurs keeper Lloris dribbled the ball out of his penalty area only to scuff an attempted clearance.

Toulouse forward Ola Toivonen clipped a first-time effort over the keeper from just inside his own half, which bounced into an empty net to spark wild celebrations from the home fans at the Friends Arena as Sweden moved above France to the top of the table on goal difference.

Holland are now just three points behind after sweeping past bottom team Luxembourg 5-0 at the De Kuip in Rotterdam, which marked the first match of Dick Advocaat’s third stint in charge.

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben put the Netherlands ahead after 21 minutes.

Veteran midfielder Wesley Sneijder – making a record 131st international appearance on his 33rd birthday – slotted in a second after 35 minutes.

Advocaat, who was named as Danny Blind’s successor in May, saw his side go further ahead on the hour through Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

Quincy Promes headed in a fourth with 20 minutes left, with a late penalty from Tottenham forward Vincent Janssen completing the rout.

Bulgaria, who had been third, slipped to a 2-1 defeat in Belarus.

The hosts went ahead after 33 minutes though a penalty from Mikhail Sivakov and a fine individual effort from Pavel Savitskiy sealed victory with 10 minutes left.

Georgi Kostadinov netted a consolation for Bulgaria in stoppage time.

Switzerland kept themselves ahead of Portugal at the top of Group B with a 2-0 away win over the Faroe Islands.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka put the Swiss ahead in the 36th minute with a low shot and Stoke playmaker Xherdan Shakiri’s neat angled finish wrapped things up after 56 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace of close-range headers as Portugal won 3-0 in Latvia.

Ronaldo – whose double helped Real Madrid win the Champions League final in Cardiff last Saturday – nodded Portugal in front five minutes before half-time after Jose Fonte’s header came back off the crossbar.

The 32-year-old headed in a second from almost on the goal-line after 61 minutes, with Porto striker Andre Silva adding a third six minutes later.

Andorra moved off the bottom of the table with a shock 1-0 win over Hungary at Estadi Nacional where a header from Marc Rebes brought to an end a run of 66 competitive matches without a victory.

Belgium strengthened their position at the top of Group H with a 2-0 win against Estonia, who finished with 10 men.

Dries Mertens put the Red Devils ahead from close range after 31 minutes. Just before half-time, Estonia midfielder Artjom Dmitrijev saw red for a foul on Marouane Fellaini.

West Brom forward Nacer Chadli made it 2-0 with four minutes left.

Second-placed Greece battled to a goalless draw away to Bosnia-Herzegovina, who remain a point behind.

A late goal from striker Pieros Sotiriou gave Cyprus a 2-1 win over Gibraltar at Estadio Algarve.

Cyprus took the lead in the 10th minute after an own goal by Gibraltar skipper Roy Chipolina. But the hosts levelled on the half-hour through Anthony Hernandez, only for Sotiriou to head in a winner with just three minutes left.

GOLF

Three players share a one-shot lead at the FedEx St.Jude Classic.
Charl Schwartzel, Chez Reavie and Sebastian Munoz are all 9 under, just ahead of Stewart Cink.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell is 2-under.

The Manulife LPGA Classic is being led by Lexi Thompson, Alena Sharp and Hyo Joo Kim.

They’re at 12 under, a single stroke better off than Perrine Delacour, Lindy Duncan and In Gee Chun.

BASKETBALL

There was disappointment for both the Ireland Senior Men’s and Women’s teams this evening as they both suffered defeats in the opening game of their weekend tournaments.
In Cork, Ireland Senior Women faced off to Iceland in the first game of the Mardyke Series, and lost out 63-69 in a thrilling and closely competitive game. Inspired by Michelle Clarke and Gráinne Dwyer, Ireland matched Iceland score for score throughout, going in with a two-point lead at the end of the first (12-10), and trailing by just one point (27-28) at half time.

Clare Rockall in action against Iceland at the Mardyke
Clare Rockall in action against Iceland at the Mardyke

Clarke came into her own in the third quarter, making it rain down three-pointers and that, coupled with hard work by Claire Rockall and Edel Thornton kept Ireland’s noses in front at the end of the third, 49-47. Iceland were determined though, and stand out star Hildur Björg Kjartansdóttir swung momentum in their favour, driving them on a run which Ireland just couldn’t find a response to and, with one minute left on the clock, Iceland took a 61-63 point lead and finished strong in the dying seconds to secure a 63-69 point victory in the end. The sides face each other in Game 2 at 5pm on Saturday at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.
The Ireland Senior Men’s team were also on the receiving end of a defeat this evening, as they lost out 82-58 against Scotland in the first game of the Celtic Clash tournament in Edinburgh.
Good shooting from UCC Demons star, Ciaran O’Sullivan just wasn’t enough to see Ireland home to glory as Scotland were pushed on by stand out star Kieron Achara who had already 11 points under his belt by the end of quarter one and continued to be a thorn in the side of the Irish team’s defence for the remainder of the game.

It was just that bit too much for Pete Strickland’s charges who will need to regroup quickly as they face Wales in the second game tomorrow evening.

NBA Finals Game Four; Cavs 137 Warriors 116

Warriors lead the series 3-1.

Game 5 is on Monday.

BOXING

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association say they’re disappointed by a ‘selective leaking to the media of a letter from IABA President Pat Ryan to Chairman Joe Christle’ this week.

In a statement released on their website, the board insist that Christle remains their chairman and reject the validity of a vote taken to support David O’Brien in March.

They’ve also re-iteraterated their commitment to agreeing a new rule book, which would shift power over selection decisions to the high performance unit.

Sport Ireland have threatened to withdraw funding if that document is not completed and adopted by July 1st.

The I-A-B-A say a meeting of their central council will be convened to discussion the dispute over administration at the association.

Belfast’s Ryan Burnett aims to follow in the footsteps of Wayne McCullough and become I-B-F world bantamweight champion tonight.

He challenges Lee Haskins for the belt at Odyssey Arena in his 17th pro bout.

OLYMPICS

Mixed relays in swimming and athletics have been added to the Toyko Games in 2020.

Three-a-side basketball has also got the green light with baseball, softball, surfing, sports climbing and skateboarding.

There will now be five weight classes in women’s boxing.

But a proposed mixed event in the modern pentathlon was turned down.

CYCLING

The Irish Senior National Cycling Championships 2017 in association with the Talbot Collection will take place this year in the small and beautiful county of Wexford.

The weekend is set to be an exciting one with Nicolas Roche, the current champion, coming home to defend his title. Other big names will be there to contest him such as Ryan Mullen, Sam Bennett , Matt Brammeier, Eddie Dunbar and Michael O’Loughlin.

With the Time Trial starting Thursday the 22nd of June, followed by the road races on Saturday and Sunday.

The TT will take place on Thursday at 5:00 PM. The route will go from Johnstown to Kilmore (34km) offering the racers a unique and beautiful backdrop.

David Maguire, Associate Race Director said; “The TT route is one of the nicest routes in the county taking the riders on some of the most beautiful roads in Wexford. There are challenging bends mixed with long straights which will test all of the riders’ skills.”

The Road Races will take place with the M40s, M50s and M60 racing the Saturday June 24th starting from 11:00 AM. This route will take the riders around an 18.95km loop of Wexford town, encompassing short climbs and fast flats.

26 June 2016; Nicholas Roche, Team Sky Procycling, celebrates as he crosses the finish line to take victory in the Elite Men event at the National Road Race Championships in Kilcullen, Co Kildare. Photo by Stephen McMahon / Sportsfile
26 June 2016; Nicholas Roche, Team Sky Procycling, celebrates as he crosses the finish line to take victory in the Elite Men event at the National Road Race Championships in Kilcullen, Co Kildare. Photo by Stephen McMahon / Sportsfile

Sunday will be host to the Under 23s and Elite Men’s race at 11:00 AM. The Elite Women’s race will also take place on the Sunday at the same time.

Race director Derek Webb said: “It great to have the Nationals in Wexford this year. There is already a very strong cycling community and we can’t wait to welcome Ireland’s best riders to our roads. It will be one of the best weekends of racing in the southeast.”

At the launch earlier this month, the main sponsor, ‘The Talbot Collection’ was announced.

HORSE RACING

Flat action dominates proceedings at the Curragh this weekend with their two-day Junefest fixture getting underway with a seven-race programme at 2.25 today.

The richest race of the day is the Junefest Handicap (4.10) over the straight five furlongs with a total prizefund of €50,000 and a field of 11 runners headed by handicap debutant Son Of Rest from the Fozzy Stack yard.

Having failed to fire when stepped up to 7f in the Tetrarch Stakes on a quick surface at Naas last time, this drop down in trip coupled with the easier ground should help the runaway Cork maiden winner. Despite conceding weight all round, he could play a prominent role with Alfredo Arcano, trained in Bansha by David Marnane, another who should relish the shorter journey in the hands of the in-form Billy Lee.

Jim Bolger’s Gasta was well-touted before getting off the mark on her debut here last month over six furlongs. The daughter of Vocalised now drops down to the minimum trip and faces four rivals in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Auction Race (3.00), including Navan debut winner Too Familiar trained by Johnny Murtagh and ridden by Niall McCullagh. The twice-placed Verhoyen from the Michael Grassick yard has competed in a couple of hot maidens and is not without his chance, one of two colts among the quintet.

The Brady Burns Insurance Brokers Handicap (4.45) will not be started from stalls and is the largest field of the afternoon with 15 contestants. The market should be interesting regarding the prospects of long-absent British import Wonder Laish, trained by Charles Byrnes, and Gordon Elliott’s Bayan, both off the track since October 2015. Several runners here have been campaigned over hurdles recently notably Neverushacon from the Jessica Harrington yard. He looks on a favourable mark and has the able assistance of South African jockey Keanen Steyn in the plate, seeking his first winner since arriving in Ireland.

The going at the Curragh is soft, heavy in places on the straight course and yielding to soft on the round course.