St Brigid’s of Roscommon made it through to the All-Ireland Club SFC final with a narrow 2-7 to 1-9 win over defending champions Crossmaglen at Mullingar. Their opponents in the St Patrick’s Day final will be Dublin and Leinster champions Ballymun Kickham’s, who defeated Dr Crokes of Kerry by 1-10 to 0-9. Ted Furman scored the only goal of the game in the first half, helping Ballymun to a 1-4 to 0-4 half-time lead. Daithi Casey and Colm Cooper pulled back points for the Munster champions, but late scores from Dean Rock and Derek Byrne secured a first ever appearance in the decider for the Dubliners. In hurling, All-Ireland champions Loughgiel surrendered their crown in a thrilling semi-final replay to St Thomas’ of Galway. Bernard Burke and Conor Cooney grabbed the vital scores as the Connacht men got the better of the Ulster champions at Clones. Frankie Dolan laid the foundations with an early goal, but the Armagh champions led by 1-5 to 1-3 at half-time, after Paul Hughes had cracked home a brilliant goal. Points from Cathal McHugh and Dolan edged Brigid’s ahead, before Jamie Clarke brought the holders level, but Conor McHugh’s late goal sealed a dramatic victory for the Connacht champions. Press Association
Plans have been in place since last year when the Premier League met with the two currently-licensed GLT companies, Hawk-eye and GoalRef, to install the system at top-flight matches. That could be as early as next season after successful tests at last December’s Club World Cup in Japan. While the Premier League is unwilling to set down an exact date for the system’s first use – a tendering process between the GLT companies is still to begin – there is a desire to have it ready by August. One of the delaying factors in introducing a new system could be over the decision of which company to employ. While both Hawk-Eye, a British-based company, and Goal-Ref were used at the Club World Cup their co-existence was in order to test each against the other. It is understood the Premier League would look to agree a deal with only one of the companies. FIFA granted licenses to both last year, which prompted the Premier League to begin talks, but it is reported up to two new companies could be given the green light by April. That could yet muddy the waters further of a Premier League decision. In Tuesday’s statement FIFA welcomed tenders from “the GLT providers currently in the licensing process” as it determines who will host the technology at the Confederations Cup and World Cup. The Premier League remains hopeful of implementing goal-line technology in time for the start of next season. FIFA’s announcement on Tuesday that it will introduce the technology for the first time at this year’s Confederations Cup will have little bearing on the Premier League’s schedule for its use in this country. “The Premier League has been a long-term advocate for goal-line technology,” a statement from the Premier League read. “We have held discussions with FIFA licensed providers with a view to introducing it as soon as is practically possible.” Press Association
Everton defender Phil Jagielka is set to undergo surgery on Saturday evening on a badly gashed ankle, manager David Moyes confirmed. Press Association He added: “It is a bad one because he is a key player for us.” Moyes said he did not know how long Jagielka would be out but the 30-year-old must now be doubtful for next week’s FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan. The incident also reminded Moyes of some of the treatment goalkeeper Tim Howard received in the two previous cup matches against Oldham. Howard was unable to face Reading after suffering a knock in the fifth-round replay win over over the League One side on Tuesday and was replaced by back-up Jan Mucha. “I’m not happy with the challenges on the goalkeeper in the last two games that have put him out and I am not happy with the challenge today that puts Phil Jagielka out,” said the manager. “I’m not one who minds challenges. I like a bit of that, if that’s what it is. “I don’t mind robust challenges but not one that puts out arguably one of my best players.” Howard’s absence ended the American’s run of 210 consecutive Premier League appearances. Moyes said: “I thought Jan did very well but it came about because the goalkeeper wasn’t protected in the first game against Oldham and they felt it was right they could do that again in the second game. In the end the goalkeeper has been injured because of decisions which should have been deemed free-kicks long before.” The England international was injured in a challenge from Adam Le Fondre in the opening minutes of Everton’s 3-1 victory over Reading at Goodison Park. He had to be immediately replaced, and Moyes said: “I genuinely haven’t seen it again but I thought on the pitch it didn’t look good. Jagielka knew about it and it is a bad one. He will have surgery tonight to stitch up his ankle.”
The Scot will bow out at the end of the season after picking up 38 trophies during his 27-year stint at United, to be replaced by Moyes who will leave Everton after 11 years at Goodison Park. And Giggs believes replacing Ferguson could be just as intimidating as the challenge his current boss faced when he replaced Ron Atkinson in November 1986. “Maybe it is,” Giggs told the Daily Telegraph. “But we have a really good bunch of lads in the dressing room and, whenever the manager needs help, the more experienced players will help.” Press Association He added: “That has been the norm, ever since I have been in the club. “What David Moyes is coming into is a good atmosphere, a really good bunch of lads, very good players and a really strong squad, so it is a strong position to be in. But the downside is that you have to follow the most successful manager that has ever lived. “Managers usually go into clubs when things aren’t going great, but this team isn’t on a downward spiral, so I don’t know if that makes it harder or easier for David.” However, experience in the Premier League at Everton means Moyes is no stranger at United. “No, he isn’t, and he is coming here with great respect for what he has done at Everton,” Giggs said. “He has done a brilliant job there and that is evident whenever you play against his teams because it is never easy against them. “Some of our former players have gone to Everton and been really successful, like Tim Howard and Phil Neville, and what they have said is that he works you hard and expects you to work hard and perform. He sets really high standards, but that is nothing different to what we are used to.” Ryan Giggs says new Manchester United manager David Moyes can count on the support of the club’s senior players when he begins the daunting task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
“I feel like I’m a substantially better player than I was three years ago. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this process that I’ve gone through the last two and a half years, winning the US Open, getting comfortable with deserving that US Open, getting comfortable with the player I was trying to become, acclimatising myself to being in the top 10, 20, 30 in the world, a new status in the game. “Number one scrambler on the PGA Tour this year has been a telling stat. Last year I’ll be the first to admit that my short game was not good and cost me probably the US Open (he finished one shot behind winner Webb Simpson). “Hilton Head (for the RBC Heritage) was probably the best I’ve ever felt down the stretch in a golf tournament, just believing I can win. “I’m feeling more experienced, I feel like I’m learning all the time. I’m comfortable on and off the golf course at the minute. “I’m happy with what I’m doing technically, I’m certainly happy with what’s ahead of me this year, getting married and settling down and doing all these good things in life which I feel adds to a stable mind on and off the course which has worked well for me this season.” Graeme McDowell feels he is in the form of his life as he seeks some rare success at Wentworth this week and a second major title next month. McDowell, who won the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, secured the Volvo World Match Play Championship by beating Thongchai Jaidee in the final at Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria on Sunday. Coupled with his victory in the RBC Heritage last month, it means he is in top form ahead of this week’s BMW PGA Championship and June’s US Open at Merion. “I’ve got one event now before the US Open. You could say I’m in the form of my life going into an event in which certainly my record kind of speaks for itself,” said McDowell, who finished joint second at Olympic club last year, 14th in 2011, won in 2010 and was 18th in 2009. Press Association
Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon has been fined £15,000 and warned about his future conduct after admitting a Football Association charge for comments he made on Twitter in relation to his former manager Neil Warnock. The row blew up after Warnock delivered stinging criticism of Puncheon for blasting a penalty wide against Tottenham. Warnock had said on talkSPORT: “There’s no way I would’ve trusted him with a penalty. You’ve got to have somebody a little bit more cool, and he’s not like that, Jason. “He can whack a 35-yard free-kick in here and there but a penalty, with all the pressure on him at a place like White Hart Lane – not in a million years for me.” Puncheon retaliated on Twitter with derogatory remarks about his former manager, who said in a statement he had done “nothing untoward” and was addressing the matter directly with the player. The FA then charged Puncheon that in posting the comments, he “failed to act in the best interests of the game and/or acted in a manner which was improper and/or used abusive and/or insulting words, in contravention of FA Rule E3(1)”. Announcing the outcome of the disciplinary action, the FA said in a statement: “Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon has been fined £15,000 and warned as to his future conduct after he admitted an FA charge for Twitter comments he made in relation to Neil Warnock.” Puncheon, 27, posted a series of tweets – which he later deleted – following criticism of a penalty miss by Warnock, who had signed him on loan when manager at QPR in September 2011. The FA charged Puncheon as a result and has now fined him for the tweets. Press Association
Liverpool have stepped up their transfer activity with an improved final-offer bid of £25million for Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana. However, as with Lambert, the Merseysiders are not prepared to hang around in their pursuit of targets and the offer effectively amounts to take-it-or-leave-it. Lallana is believed to be keen on a move to Anfield so it leaves Saints in a tricky position as if they reject Liverpool’s advances once again they risk alienating a player who has been a loyal servant to the club. Liverpool have adopted the same approach with Lallana, Rodgers’ primary target this summer, as they have with Lambert. The 32-year-old striker emerged as a surprise option for the Reds during their on-going discussions with the south-coast club over Lallana. When it became apparent there was a deal to be done the Anfield club insisted it be completed quickly and set Southampton a deadline of this weekend – before the England squad fly out to Miami for the next stage of their World Cup preparations – on Sunday. The wheels are in motion for Lambert and providing his medical does not throw up any problems he is likely to be confirmed as the club’s first signing of the summer on Monday. Considering Southampton have yet to accept the offer for Lallana that may take some pushing to get it over the line quickly but national team boss Roy Hodgson has already stated he would like the future of players considering moves this summer to be sorted before the tournament in Brazil begins. Should the £25million offer for Lallana not be accepted Rodgers will move on to other targets, with Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri an alternative, but there is a hope pressure from the player – who wants a move to Anfield – may still see the deal done. With Saints team-mate Rickie Lambert expected on Merseyside for a medical ahead of a £4million move back to his boyhood club, Press Association Sport understands manager Brendan Rodgers has made another push for midfielder Lallana. The Reds had an initial bid of £20million rejected but have gone back to Southampton with an increased amount. Press Association Lambert’s move, which even with a number of add-ons will not get close to the £9million being suggested in some quarters, is more straightforward. The player was keen to rejoin the club he left as a teenager and Saints found it difficult to stand in his way given the forward’s service to the club. Lambert was born in Kirkby, Merseyside, and was a member of Liverpool’s academy until his mid-teens when he was released and found himself plying his trade in the lower leagues for the likes of Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before finding success at Southampton. He will provide some much-needed back-up to frontline strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge at Anfield and, while he may have to content himself with a supporting role from the bench at Anfield, the chance to rejoin his boyhood club and play in the Champions League was an opportunity he did not want to miss. Another Southampton player, defender Dejan Lovren, remains a target but there are others, although Press Association Sport understands Liverpool’s interest in Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Emre Can is running into complications. The two clubs plan more talks over the weekend which are likely to give a clearer idea of whether the Germany Under-21 international will also move to Merseyside. Although there is a buy-out clause of about £10million which Liverpool are willing to meet there is another stumbling block to be overcome. Bayern Munich have first option on a buy-back of the player they sold last summer but it was believed player’s wage demands were a cause for concern but another, as yet unspecified, issue has cropped up. Liverpool have made a bid, reported to be in the region of £16million, for Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno but are still in negotiations with the Europa League winners. However, what interest the club had in Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm to provide competition for Simon Mignolet has cooled and they are no longer considering the Dutchman as a viable target.
“Petr is satisfied at Chelsea and there is interest in his services even after his playing football career – they would want him to continue in some position at the club.” Cech is currently recovering from shoulder surgery but is expected to be ready in time for the start of pre-season. “Petr is successfully continuing his recovery from his [shoulder] injury and everything is going according to the plan,” Kolar added. “He will be ready for the start of the pre-season.” Monaco and Paris St Germain are both interested in signing Petr Cech but the Chelsea goalkeeper is happy to stay at Stamford Bridge, according to the player’s agent. Cech joined Chelsea 10 years ago from French side Rennes and has gone on to establish himself as one of the most reliable stoppers in the Premier League. The 32-year-old’s future at Chelsea is in doubt, however, with rising star Thibaut Courtois expected to return after another impressive season on loan at Primera Division champions Atletico Madrid. “Paris St Germain have shown interest and we have also communicated with Monaco,” Cech’s agent Viktor Kolar is quoted as saying on Czech website Aktualne. “Nothing changes. He has two years left on his Chelsea contract and has an interest to continue there. “We have not been given any signals that Petr will be made available a nd even if that was the case you have to realise that Petr is one of the world’s top goalkeepers and has a certain salary. “There are not many clubs who could afford to sign him – i f he were to leave, we’re only talking about two or three clubs in the world. “The situation is always evolving, of course, but for now he is staying at Chelsea.” Cech has made 326 league appearances for the Blues and helped them lift three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League. Kolar says his client is happy in London and suggested he could take up a coaching role at the club when his playing career comes to an end. “Petr isn’t 20 any more. His family are satisfied living in London,” Kolar said. Press Association
Republic manager Martin O’Neill has included Derby defender Cyrus Christie and Ipswich striker David McGoldrick after their eligibility documentation was finalised last week. The pair both qualify through having Irish grandparents. O’Neill had initially named a provisional 35-strong squad last month but injuries have had an effect with some players having to withdraw. “Marc Wilson misses out due to a torn hamstring during Stoke’s win over Tottenham yesterday,” said a statement on the Football Association of Ireland’s website. Press Association Everton midfielder James McCarthy will travel to Dublin to have his fitness assessed by the Republic of Ireland’s medical team ahead of matches against Scotland and the United States. McCarthy, who turns 24 on Wednesday, played the full 90 minutes of his side’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Sunday but came off the pitch complaining of a hamstring injury. He will undergo assessment on the problem when he joins up on Monday evening with the rest of a 27-man squad which has been selected for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland on Friday and a friendly against the United States next week.
Press Association Even if retaining his title proves out of reach, McIlroy is keen to put on a show on Sunday in his final round of the year. “I need a fast start tomorrow to have a chance,” he said. “It depends too on what the guys ahead of me do. I need some help. But the greens have been firmer every day. So a low score is higher than it was. “I still feel like I can shoot a good one. I just don’t know if that will be enough. I’ll be trying my best. It’s the last round of the season so it would be nice to make it a good one.” Despite being level par after eight holes – when he was joint leader – with a bogey at the fourth immediately followed up by a birdie at the next, McIlroy’s round fell apart just before the turn. He found the rough on the ninth and struggled to dig his way out en route to a triple bogey seven and he then made a double bogey six at the 10th to tumble down the leaderboard. He birdied the next but another pair of bogeys, at the 13th and 16th, dropped him further back. A birdie at the last meant the Northern Irishman at least ended on a positive note going into the final round, but the damage had long since been done. McIlroy won the title at the Australian Golf Club 12 months ago on the 72nd hole, where he pipped world number three Adam Scott, who is currently one shot off the lead after his 69. Although McIlroy was not ready to concede, he admitted he had given himself a mountain to climb. “It was a tough day obviously,” he said on the tournament’s website. “The wind was up. I was doing okay, steady enough, until I got to the ninth. I hit a wayward tee-shot into what I thought was a decent enough lie that I could advance the ball. “But I didn’t realise what I was standing on is not like dirt or earth. It was more like carpet. So the ball went underneath the carpet. Had it been a normal surface it would have been alright, but down there it was impossible.” Two 69s had left the world number one firmly in contention to defend the crown he won in thrilling style last year, but he has been some way short of his best in Sydney this week. That was evident on Saturday as a 76 left him on one-over-par overall, six shots adrift of leading trio Brett Rumford, Jordan Spieth and Greg Chalmers. Rory McIlroy’s hopes of retaining his Australian Open title look to have sunk without trace after a woeful third round left him well adrift of the leading pack.