by Tom Barry
A brief round-up of the weekend’s top sports stories.
Rangers claimed the Co-operative Insurance League Cup with a 2-1 victory in extra-time over Old Firm rivals Celtic at Hampden Park in Glasgow yesterday.
Steven Davis gave Rangers the lead on 24 minutes but their lead didn’t last for long as Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley drew his side level with a header seven minutes later.
Just before half-time Rangers thought they had been awarded a penalty when Nikica Jelavic went down in the penalty area after a Thomas Rogne tackle but referee Craig Thomson changed his mind after consulting with his assistant and instead decided to book the striker for diving.
The second-half was a taut and tense affair with both sides having chances to win the game but neither side was able to put any of them to bed.
The winning goal came in the eight minute of extra-time when Jelavic, spurred on by his penalty disappointment, got the better of Charlie Mulgrew before latching on to Vladamir Weiss’s free-kick to slide the ball past Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal.
Celtic pressed late on but were unable to find the goal that would have taken the game to penalties as Rangers claimed the first silverware of the season.
Ireland crushed England’s hopes of claiming a first Six Nations Grand Slam in eight years with a 24-8 victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.
England came into the game on the back of four straight victories but never looked likely to make it five from five against an Irish side that played with far greater skill, aggression and passion.
The signs for England were ominous early on as poor discipline gifted Ireland two penalties which on-form out-half Jonathan Sexton kicked to give the Irish a 6-0 lead.
Things got worse for England moments later when Irish captain Brian O’ Driscoll went over in the corner to score what he thought was a record-breaking 25th Championship try. English blushes were spared however, when the pass from Tommy Bowe from which O’ Driscoll collected, was judged forward.
Ireland settled for a penalty which Sexton duly delivered to make it 9-0 on 20 minutes.
The Irish didn’t have to wait long for a try, however, as quick-thinking by the mercurial Sexton, running a penalty, put Bowe into space and the winger made no mistake to score the first try of the game minutes later giving his side a 17-3 half time lead.
The game was effectively over early in the second-half when O’ Driscoll finally did claim his record breaking 25th Championship try which Sexton converted to put Ireland 24-3 ahead. England replacement hooker Steve Thompson gave his side hope when he intercepted an Eoin Reddan pass and scampered over the line from 40 meters to bring the English total to eight points but it was as close as they would come to Ireland. The English chariot was well and truly derailed.
In the weekend’s other games, Scotland finally managed to score some tries at Murrayfield as both Nick De Luca and Nikki Walker crossed the line in their 21-8 victory over Italy. The win meant that the Scots avoided the dreaded wooden spoon on points difference from the Italians. While in Paris, Wales had an outside chance of stealing the Six Nations title from under England’s nose if they managed to beat France by 27 points or more, but their challenge never got going and they were beaten 28-9.
The draw for the Cricket World Cup quarter finals has been made, with England set to face Sri Lanka in Colombo this Wednesday. Despite their shock defeat to Ireland in the earlier stages of the competition, England confirmed their place in the quarter finals by finishing third in group B behind India and South Africa, and ahead of the West Indies, whilst Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand also went through from group A. Had the West Indies upset India on Sunday, England would have faced a tougher clash against group A winners Pakistan, but India’s 80-run victory confirmed England’s clash with Sri Lanka.
The full quarter final draw is as follows:
Wednesday 23 March: Pakistan v West Indies
Thursday 24 March: India v Australia
Friday 25 March: New Zealand v South Africa
Saturday 26 March: Sri Lanka v England
A summary on today’s sports, with Jen McClure: