Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

The Republic of Ireland could yet qualify automatically for the World Cup.

Daryl Murphy scored twice as they beat Moldova 2-nil to stay a point behind Wales, who are second in Group D – which could be good enough for a play-off.

Martin O’Neill’s side are also just two points back from leaders Serbia – who lost 3-2 at Austria.

O’Neill tells Sky Sports News, it’s set to be a thrilling finish

The Republic of Ireland side meet Chris Coleman’s team in their final game on Monday.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, midfielder David Meyler hopes their big match experience will prove crucial

Cork City will be crowned SSE Airtiricty League champions if Dundalk fail to take all three-points at Finn Harps this evening.

That on kicks off at 5 with St Pat’s match against Limerick at the same time.

In the 3 o’clock games, Bray Wanderers host Galway United while already relegated Drogheda are at home to Shamrock Rovers.

The late kick-off sees Sligo Rovers host Bohemians at a quarter-to-eight.

It’s the final round of games in the First Division.

Champions Waterford finish the season at Cobh.

Athlone take on UCD, Longford play Wexford and Shelbourne host Cabinteely.

RUGBY

The Aviva Stadium plays host to an Inter-pro derby between Leinster and Munster in the Guinness PRO-14 this afternoon.

Both sides come into the game with four wins from five games so far this season.

A Jacob Stockdale try and 11-points from the boot of John Cooney helped Ulster defeat Connacht by 16-points to 8 at Kingspan Stadium last night.

Connacht have now lost five of their opening six games of the season.

Bernard Jackman’s Dragons lost 43-29 to their Welsh rivals Cardiff while Glasgow won 29-26 at the Cheetahs.

MOTORSPORT

Lewis Hamilton’s secured pole position for tomorrow’s Japanese F1 Grand Prix.

Britain’s Mercedes driver will share the front row with title rival Sebastian Vettel – who’ll go from second.

The Ferrari racer was third in qualifying – but second placed Valtteri Bottas has a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

Hamilton leads Vettel by 34-points in the drivers’ championship.

GOLF

Seamus Power has ended a whirlwind week by missing the cut at the Safeway Open on the PGA Tour.

The Waterford golfer only secured his PGA Tour card last week, and then lost his clubs en route to this weekend’s event in Ohio.

Tyler Duncan is a one shot leader on 13 under.

HORSE RACING

Aidan O’Brien goes in search of his 23rd top level victory of the year at Newmarket this afternoon with Roly Poly flying the flag along with stable companion Alluringly for the Ballydoyle trainer in the Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (2.40).

Last weekend O’Brien completed Group 1 doubles at Newmarket, courtesy of Clemmie and US Navy Flag, and at Chantilly when Happily and Rhododendron obliged to leave him just three short of the late Bobby Frankel’s world record of 25 Grade 1 wins on the Flat in one year.

Runner-up to stable companion Winter in both the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes, Roly Poly got on the Group 1 scoreboard when landing the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in July before going on to land the Prix de Rothschild at Deauville in August. On her most recent start she finished sixth behind Hydrangea and Winter in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. Ryan Moore takes the ride on Roly Poly while Seamie Heffernan, on board Alluringly for her two previous wins at Tipperary and Gowran Park, teams up again with the Fastnet Rock filly.

O’Brien has twice won the Sun Chariot Stakes, with Halfway To Heaven in 2008 and Alice Springs a year ago.

Gordon Elliott has not been shy about running some of his better horses early in the season, and this afternoon at Fairyhouse, the local Meath-based handler will take the wraps off Fayonagh, as she embarks on a hurdling campaign in the Jumps Racing Returns at Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle (3.25).

Fayonagh won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last season before landing the Grade One double in the Irish equivalent at Punchestown. She will be ridden by Davy Russell for today’s jumping debut.

Elliott and Russell have solid claims of taking the opening Winter Festival December 2nd and 3rd Beginners Chase with Tombstone. The gelding has showed plenty of class over hurdles and today marks his first start over the larger obstacles.

Racing begins at Fairyhouse with that opening beginners’ chase at 1.45 and the ground is good to yielding there.

There will be some hotly contested races at Limerick today and all eyes will be on the Dermot Weld-trained Zawraq as he bids to prove his worth in the feature Martin Molony Stakes (3.10).

Named after the late great jockey, Martin Molony, who passed away this year, Zawraq will be bidding to shine under title-chasing Pat Smullen.

But Colin Keane will not let him out of his sights too easy, and he too has solid claims in the contest aboard Cannonball, trained by his boss Ger Lyons.

Not A Bad Oul Day has been a tremendous servant to Johnny Feane’s stable and will be fancied to win the At The Races-sponsored handicap at 2.35 under Dylan Hogan.

With racing underway at 1.25, the ground at Limerick is soft to heavy.

Racegoers at Dundalk’s Friday night fixture were treated to a thrilling card of action, with reigning champion jockey Pat Smullen winning four races in a row to draw level with current title leader Colin Keane in the jockeys’ championship before the Meath jockey responded with a winner of his own to close the card.

The pair locked horns in the final race, with Smullen ranging up alongside Keane aboard Michael O’Callaghan’s Bold Knight, but the championship leader’s charge Thunder Crash pulled out enough to land the spoils under an inspired ride.

Keane now leads the jockeys’ championship by one with 81 winners, while Smullen’s four-timer means he has 80 winners for the season, with the season concluding on the fifth of November.

Shane Lyons, assistant and brother to Thunder Crash’s winning trainer Ger Lyons, spoke of the team’s admiration of the title challenger and a bold performance from victorious horse.

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