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Article: Maher decides to become pro - Prodigy heading for the big time aged just 17

Maher decides to become pro - Prodigy heading for the big time aged just 17


DARTS: After finishing runner-up at the All Ireland Youths Championships in Kilkenny, 17-year-old Ryan Maher has decided to turn pro.

Although he only started playing three years ago, the young Dubliner has won every youths tournament in Dublin, and won Leinster and All-Ireland championship titles with the county youth team. Last year he made the Irish U21 team and also won both the All-Ireland title and the youths tournament at the John McEvoy Darts Classic in Killarney, beating Kyle Ramsell from Cork. In exhibition play, Maher has beaten the 15-times world champion Phil Taylor.

Last weekend, Maher did well to beat David McGeer 3-2 in the semi-finals before losing 1-3 to John Seagrave in the final. Damien O^Driscoll beat Campbell Jackson 6-3 to win the senior men^s title, while in the women^s decider, Sharon O^Brien beat Teresa Maher 4-3.

TRIATHLON: Top Irish triathlete Aileen Morrison finished 14th at the European Championships in Pontevedra, Spain.

In testing conditions, Morrison^s strong swim saw her joining the lead pack of five on the cycle, but she faded in the heat, especially on the 10km run. Her time of two hours seven minutes 27 seconds put her three minutes behind the winner.

In the men^s race, Conor Murphy, in his first big international race, finished a fighting 38th after leading briefly during the cycle. Bryan Keane dropped out during the cycle.

A squad of eight junior squad triathletes was taking on the best of young British talent at the Portcawl Youth and Junior Triathlon today in Wales.

Over the past few months, the squad has trained for between 15 to 20 hours a week in preparation for this 400m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km run. Making up the squad are Chris Mintern, Aaron O^Brien, Constantine Doherty, Conor Rooney, Stephen Rooney, Kieran Jackson, Maedbh Hurst and Emma Sharkey. Coaches are Chris Jones and Elena Maslova.

CANOEING: Best of the Irish at slalom canoeing^s opening World Cup round in Tacen, Slovenia last weekend was Eoin Rheinisch of the Salmon Leap club. Rheinisch, who is recovering from a shoulder operation, qualified for the K1 semi-finals and finished 28th overall.

Hannah Craig just missed out on the K1 women^s semi-final, finishing 41st overall. The Irish team is currently in France for the second World Cup event, with the third round in Germany next week and a final round in Prague in August.

Key event of the season is the World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia, next September when London 2012 places will be at stake.

TUG OF WAR: Lakehill from Co Mayo made it a hat-trick of 720kg national titles when they beat host club Boley at the second round of the National Tug of War Championships in Ballycullane, Co Wexford. Killylough from Co Monaghan won the bronze, while Donoughmore from Co Cork defeated Slaneysiders from Wexford to win the Division 2 title.

In the novice championship local team Saltmills had a good win over Killoughey from Co Offaly, On a good day for Wexford teams, Clonmines defeated Killoughey to take the U23 640kg title. Next round, featuring the 680kg championship, is hosted by Lakehill at the Ballina Agricultural Show on July 10.

SAILING: Ireland^s top six match racing teams will take on a world team, consisting of six international teams from France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the UK at the second International Match Racing Challenge hosted by the Royal St George club in Scotsman^s Bay, Dun Laoghaire on July 23/24.

At last year^s inaugural event, the World team came out on top, with 36 wins to Ireland^s 29.

Match racing involves head-to-head racing between two identical boats with a crew of four over short 20-minute courses. After about 90 races, an overall individual winner is declared.

SNOOKER: Joss Boileau of Newbridge leads the Irish U16 snooker team at this weekend^s annual Celtic Challenge tournament against Wales at the Ivy Rooms, Carlow. Also selected are Ross Doyle of DBSL and Andrew Doherty from CYM Terenure, both of them members of the U14 team last year. Aaron Moyles from Ballina, Lee Walsh of North West and Dubliner Dylan Carey make up the squad. Leading the U14 team is Fiacra Ginty from Ballina. The Irish hope to avenge last year^s defeat by Wales.

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