Evening Sports Update

RUGBY

Munster will have to wait another week to book their place in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup.

After a back-and-forth encounter with Racing 92, it was the French side that eventually came out on top in a thrilling encounter, winning 34-30.


After tries from Jean Kleyn, Keith Earls and Chris Farrell, the Reds looked to be in pole position for the win when a huge Conor Murray penalty put them 2 points ahead with 5 minutes to go.

But two late penalties for the hosts gave them the win by 4 points, but crucially for Munster they were unable to get a try bonus point.

That means Munster host Castres next week knowing that a win of any kind is enough to send them through to the last eight.

Leinster have secured a home quarter-final after an eight-try trouncing of Glasgow at the RDS.

The Blues won 55-19 at the RDS to make it 5 wins from 5 in the competition.

Leo Cullen’s side had already secured the bonus point by half-time, going in 34-7 in front through tries from Jordi Murphy, Isa Nacewa, Sean Cronin, Scott Fardy and Jonathan Sexton.

In the second half Nacewa and Fardy got their seconds while James Lowe also got on the scoresheet to help Leinster pull further clear.

They now head to Montpellier next week with qualification secured, but another win would also give them a home semi-final if they get that far.

Elsewhere Toulon beat Treviso 36-nil.

Connacht Rugby’s flight to Knock has been diverted to Belfast International Airport after a technical issue on board.

It’s understand the team were on board the Flybe plane from Birmingham which had to be diverted this morning.

Flight B-E-E 653 landed safely just after midday.

Connacht were in Worcester last night – where a draw secured their place in the European Challenge Cup quarter finals.

Billy Vunipola’s hopes of making rugby union’s Six Nations are in doubt.

It’s been confirmed the England number eight fractured his arm in Saracens’ 15-all draw with Ospreys in the European Champions Cup.

The Premiership side say they won’t know how long he’ll be out for until he sees a specialist.

England start their campaign against Italy in three weeks’ time.

SOCCER

Manchester City’s unbeaten start to the Premier League has come to an end after an incredible game against Liverpool at Anfield.

The home side won by 4 goals to 3, despite a nervy last few moments when they conceded twice in the last 10 minutes.

The sides were level at the break, when Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain’s early strike was cancelled out by Leroy Sane’s equaliser.

It was all Liverpool at the start of the second half, when in a nine minute spell they hit three brilliant goals from forwards Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.

City goals from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan brought the deficit back to the minimum, but they couldn’t find an equaliser despite relentless pressure.

The result means City are still 15 points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea who are all level on 47 points.

United have a game in hand at home to Stoke City tomorrow.

Meanwhile Arsenal’s hopes of a top 4 finish have been dealt a blow after they lost 2-1 away to Bournemouth.

The Gunners looked to be on their way to 3 points when Hector Bellerin put them in front in the early stages of the 1st half.

But strikes from Callum Wilson and Jordan Ibe – his first for the club – gave the Cherries a surprise win.

The Football Association say they’re making enquiries into an allegation made in West Brom’s 2-nil Premier League win over Brighton.

Defender Gaetan Bong reported a complaint to referee Martin Atkinson, which related to something West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez supposedly said to him.

The specifics of the allegation haven’t been revealed.

GAELIC GAMES

It was a busy day of pre-season inter-county action.

In hurling Limerick claimed the Munster League after a 16 point to 10 victory over neighbours Clare in today’s final at the Gaelic Grounds.

Elsewhere in the Bord na Mona Walsh Cup, Wexford booked a final meeting with Kilkenny after beating Dublin by 1-20 to 16 points.

Davy Fitzgerald’s side scored 1-10 without reply in the second half to claim the win.

Turning to football where history was made in the O’Byrne Cup semi-final between Meath and Longford.

With the sides level after normal time and extra time, Meath eventually prevailed in a free-taking competition.

They’ll play Westmeath in the decider after they beat Offaly by 2 points.

In the Doctor McKenna Cup, Tyrone are through to the final a 8 points to 4 win over Fermanagh.

Meanwhile in the first round of games in the National Camogie League, there were wins for Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford and Wexford, while Limerick and Dublin finished level.

Cork registered a comprehensive 0-13 to 1-3 win over Galway at the Cork Camogie Grounds as the Littlewoods Camogie League Division 1 got off to an early start.

Despite some high-profile absentees in new captain Aoife Murray, Gemma O’Connor and Rena Buckley, Cork fielded a very experienced line-up, whereas Galway were without their large Sarsfields contingent and the talismanic Niamh Kilkenny.

Orla Cotter scored seven points and Amy O’Connor provided four from play for the hosts but it was the visitors that got off to the better start under new manager Tony O’Donovan, Ailish O’Reilly goaling after Rebecca Hennelly and Cotter had exchanged early frees.

Cork remained undeterred however and four consecutive points – scores from O’Connor, Hannah Looney and a brace of Cotter frees – put them in front at the break by 0-5 to 1-1.
It was all Cork in the second half, Cotter slotting three points on the trot, including one from play. O’Connor found the target twice more too and though Aoife Donohue kept Galway in touch with two points of her own, Cotter, O’Connor and Orla Cronin eased Paudie Murray’s team to the honours.

Kilkenny are pursuing a third League title in a row and fourth in five seasons and they also produced a strong second-half display to emerge with a 1-13 to 1-3 win over Clare in Clonlara.
It was extremely cagey in the opening period but a fortuitous goal from distance by Chloe Morey, followed by a magical point by the Sixmilebridge player, helped them into a 1-3 to 0-4 lead at half time, Morey having registered all her side’s tally.

Aoife Doyle, Miriam Walsh, Anne Dalton and JulieAnn Malone were among the scorers as Kilkenny raised the tempo after the resumption. In contrast, Clare were unable to cause the Cats any discomfort and it was the Stripeywomen that had the final say courtesy of a goal from the eye-catching Doyle.

A Linda Bolger goal in the game’s final act snatched a 3-10 to 2-12 victory for Wexford over Tipperary at The Ragg. The home team had held the upper hand for the majority of proceedings and two goals from the returning Sarah Fryday had put them in a strong position.

They led by seven points at one stage in the opening period but Bolger pounced for the first of her two goals to keep Wexford in contention at the change of ends, though trailing by 1-9 to 1-5. Crucially, they responded to Fryday’s second major strike with the almost inevitable goal from Úna Leacy, moments after the Wexford star had had a penalty saved.

Tipp still led by two entering the third minute of injury time but Bolger broke their hearts to give new boss Martin Carey a memorable commencement to his reign.

Limerick launched a late fightback to overturn a six-point deficit and secure a 2-12 to 2-12 draw against Dublin at Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale.

And finally, Waterford’s experience of Senior Camogie told as six points from Beth Carton, three from Kaiesha Tobin and a goal from Lorraine Bray propelled them to a 1-12 to 0-6 success in Carriganore.

Aoife Maguire and Caroline Quinn were among the scorers for last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate champions but they did not carry sufficient attacking threat.

BOXING

Anthony Joshua will fight New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in a heavyweight unification bout in Cardiff at the end of March.

The British boxing world champion’s putting his IBF and WBA belts on the line against the WBO title-holder.

It’s at the Principality Stadium – where Joshua beat Carlos Takam in October.

RACING

Gordon Elliott secured yet another big handicap at Fairyhouse today when Doctor Phoenix powered clear in the closing stages to run out a comprehensive winner of the €100,000 Bar One Racing Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase. Kilcarry Bridge posted a brave front-running effort in the two-mile one-furlong contest but had no answer when tackled by Gordon Elliott’s charge going to the final fence.

The 13/2 shot, ridden by Davy Russell, was held up in the early stages before being asked to take closer order turning for home. Having claimed the front-runner before the last he streaked away on the run-in to post a nine-length winning margin. Acapella Bourgeois was sent off the 9-10 favourite but again proved disappointing. He weakened turning for home and pulled up after a slow jump two out.

Earlier on the card, Elliott and Russell teamed up to win the Promote Your Business At Fairyhouse In 2018 Hurdle with even-money favourite Mitchouka.

Ballingarry trainer Charles Byrnes continued his resurgence in form at Fairyhouse as he sent out Minnies Secret to win the Book Easter Festival Tickets Online At fairyhouse.ie Mares Maiden Hurdle. The 6-5 favourite was much too good for her rivals in the hands of Donie McInerney and stayed on strongly to score from Tara Dylan.

SNOOKER

There was a big shock in the opening game of The Masters at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Reigning world champion Mark Selby was dumped out of the tournament after a 6-5 loss to Mark Williams.

This evening Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen takes on Belgium’s Luca Brecel (pron: BRE-SELL).