Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says he is not worried about his job.

The Italian is said to be on the brink of the sack following last night’s 4-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road.


It is the Premier League champion’s second successive defeat by three goals, but Conte says he has no fears about getting the sack

Watford scored three late goals to win Javi Gracia’s first home game in charge.

They are now six points clear of the relegation zone.

The new Hornets manager says it was a game to remember

Manchester United await the winners of tonight’s F-A Cup 4th round replay between Birmingham and Huddersfield.

League One strugglers Rochdale play host to Millwall.

Notts County will reach the last-16 for just the second time in 26-years, if they win at Swansea.

Rangers will try and recover from defeat by Hibs when they head to Partick for a Glasgow derby this evening.

They’re now third in the Scottish Premiership table, six points behind second-placed Aberdeen.
The game’s at 7.45.

Ronald Koeman is expected to be confirmed as the new Netherlands head coach today.

The former Everton boss will sign a four-year contract to replace Dick Advocaat after he failed to qualify them for this summer’s World Cup.


RUGBY

Ireland will continue their preparations for Saturday’s visit of Italy to the Aviva in the Six Nations.

They’ll do so without Josh van der Flier, who was ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious knee ligament injury.

Dave Kilcoyne is back with the squad after being ruled out of the French victory with a knee injury.


GAELIC GAMES

The Sigerson Cup reaches it’s quarter final stage this afternoon.

Five-time champions U-U-J take on U-L at Jordanstown from 2.

CYCLING

There’s good Irish involvement in the Tour of Dubai, which gets underway today.

Nicolas Roche is among the 7-man BMC team.

While 6-foot-8 Conor Dunne, and Matt Brammeier ride for the Cork-based Aqua Blue team.

Ireland’s Lara Gillespie demonstrated her cycling prowess and versatility last weekend, finishing 23rd in the U23 event, and was the fourth junior over the line, at the 2018 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Valkenburg, the Netherlands.

The first-year junior won a silver medal in the Time Trial at last year’s European Youth Olympic Festival, and competed in the U23 event in the absence of a junior category.

Multi-talented Gillespie stormed to glory in the Elite Women’s National Cyclocross Championships earlier this month.

Speaking after the race the relieved 16-year-old was boosted by the crowds, with an estimated 40,000 spectators enjoying the weekend of racing – “That was an amazing experience, the crowds, and particularly the Irish fans, were amazing. There were so many people shouting for me, so thank you to everyone!”

Despite having missed time on the bike due to illness, Gillespie was well equipped in the fast and technical discipline – “I was sick last week and didn’t touch the bike for seven days, and it was touch and go if I would even make the start line.”

The young Scott-Orwell Wheelers rider has a busy schedule over the coming months, juggling cycling and running – “I have a few days off now and will be back to Belgium for the Junior Ghent-Wevelgem in March. Our school team has also been selected for the World Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris over Easter.”

The National Champion in the Junior Men’s Cyclocross event, Thomas Creighton, finished 50th in the event, and described a tough but enjoyable course – “The course was probably the toughest I’d every ridden, but you’d expect that from a World Championship event.”

In the Elite Men’s race Glenn Kinning finished 55th in tricky conditions – “The last week has been great. The support team has been excellent and so has the preparation. Today’s race was probably one of the hardest I’ve ridden. Conditions like that would probably have been called off back home!”

Mechanical issues affected U23 cyclocross talent David Conroy at the Championships – but the young rider is upbeat about the future – “My race didn’t go to plan, however, my season as a whole has been a success, and I’m already looking forward to building towards next season.”

At her first World Championship event Maria Larkin was 39th in the Elite Women’s race – “This was the most special race I’ve ever ridden. The crowd, the atmosphere and the Irish fans were amazing. My first lap was tough and I made a few mistakes. I could hear the Irish fans cheering my names as well as some of my Chicago friends.”

TENNIS

Sam Bothwell & Osgar O’Hoisin V Freddie Nielsen & Thomas Kromann
In a change of doubles partnerships, it gave Osgar O’Hoisin & Sam Bothwell an opportunity to make their Davis Cup debuts. They came up against Freddie Nielsen & Thomas Kromann who really showed their class in the tie. They broke Ireland in the first service game of the match and that set the tempo for the rest of the set. They took the set 6 – 4 and never looked to be threatened even with the Irish pair battling hard and working for every point.

The second set was more competitive with O’Hoisin and Bothwell racing in to a 2 – 0 lead and the tide looked to be turning until the Danes composed themselves and broke back in the following game. It was a tight affair throughout and with the set level at 4 – 4 Denmark started to turn the screw and broke O’Hoisin & Bothwell once more to make it 5 – 4 and were now in position to serve for the match. The Danes went on to take the rubber 6 – 4 6 – 4 in what can only be described as a clinical performance. Massive credit must go to O’Hoisin & Bothwell who battled hard throughout in their first Davis Cup tie.

Peter Bothwell V Freddie Nielsen
Freddie Nielsen went in to this tie full of confidence on the back of his doubles win this morning. He didn’t give Peter Bothwell any chance to settle and meant business from the first game. Unfortunately today wasn’t Peter’s day and will be first to admit this. However he battled hard throughout the two sets and never threw in the towel at any stage. Nielsen was a very composed opponent and used all his experience to carve out a 6 – 1 6 – 1 victory.

Simon Carr V Soren Olesen
With the tie over at 3 – 1 Simon Carr took on Soren Olesen in what proved to be an exciting game from start to finish. Unfortunately Simon couldn’t claim his first Davis Cup victory after coming out on the losing end 8 – 10 in a match tie break in the third set. Simon took the first set 6 – 2 and made light work of Olesen in the process. He couldn’t bring this in to the second set as Olesen turned the match around to break Simon early on and he continued to show good form by claiming the second set 6 – 2. Olesen eventually grinded out the match tie break 10 – 8 which finished off a successful weekend for the Danish team.