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Mullins set to raid Cheltenham Festival

WILLIE Mullins is the man to follow at the four-day Cheltenham Racing Festival, where the champion trainer holds a huge hand. Dominant on both sides of the Irish Sea all season, Mullins knows what it takes to win at the festival, having saddled a total of 41 winners since breaking his duck at Prestbury Park, when Tourist Attraction landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle back in 1995. With a battalion of top-class horses at his disposal, the Closutton maestro will have fancied runners in most of the 28 races and could well equal or surpass last year’s record-breaking tally of eight winners. Tuesday’s opening afternoon could well be dominated by the Mullins/Ruby Walsh alliance, with Min (Supreme Novices), Douvan in the Arkle, the supplemented Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle and Vroom Vroom Mag in the mares’ hurdle all short prices for respective races. Bookmakers were spared a huge pay-out 12 months ago when Annie Power fell at the final flight …

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Newmarket bid to maintain winning streak

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Clare footballers face Tullamore test

AS they head for Tullamore on Sunday, Clare’s priority will be to produce a second 70-minute performance once the clock hits 2pm. If they can reproduce and sustain the level on view against Westmeath, the result will look after itself. However, it must be expected that Offaly will test Clare’s resolve far more than Westmeath did. The Lake County were very poor and aside from a few minutes late in the first half, they didn’t take the game and simply folded late in the second half. Offaly are just two points behind Clare in the league table and a win on Sunday would almost guarantee their Division 3 status for 2016 and put them in with an outside chance of promotion. Offaly lost to Tipperary last weekend, having beaten Sligo 1-13 to 0-14 in their previous fixture. They will look to players such as Michael Brazil, Niall Smith, Niall Bracken and Niall McNamee on Sunday to steer them to what …

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Shane O’Donnell to captain Clare hurlers

With joint team captains Tony Kelly and Cian Dillon out due to injury, Eire Og’s Shane O’Donnell will captain Clare when they face Kerry in round 4 of the Allianz hurling league on Sunday. There are four changes in personnell from the side which defeated Laois last week. Donal Tuohy, Oisin O’Brien, Colm Galvin and Conor McGrath all start in place of Andrew Fahy Cian Dillon, Colin Ryan and Gearoid O’Connell. The game will mark a first senior competitive start for Clonlara’s Oisin O’Brien who was added to the panel recently. Goalkeeper Donal Tuohy will play his first game in this season’s league campaign. In the absence of full back Cian Dillon, Tubber’s Pat O’Connor is handed the full back role The team is Donal Tuohy (Crusheen); Oisín O’Brien (Clonlara), Pat O’Connor (Tubber), Paul Flanagan (Ballyea); Brendan Bugler (Whitegate), David McInerney (Tulla), Conor Cleary (Miltown St.Josephs); David Reidy (Éire Óg), Conor Ryan (Cratloe); John Conlon (Clonlara), Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle), Aaron …

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Rampant Clare footballers hammer Westmeath

Clare 1-18 Westmeath 0-10 WITH just three fixtures left to play in division 3 of the NFL, Clare took a huge stride towards promotion with a comprehensive win over Westmeath in Ennis on Sunday. They now sit joint second in the table, along with Tipperary. The Munster teams are two points behind Kildare, who have won all four of their games to date. Clare travel to O’Connor Park in Tullamore next Sunday, where they play Offaly who are currently on four points. Clare blitzed Westmeath who were completely off the pace, particularly in the first half. Such was Clare’s dominance they led 0-7 to 0-0 after 23 minutes with David Tubridy, Eoin Cleary, Pearse Lillis and Cathal O’Connor putting over those early points. Westmeath, who reached the 2015 Leinster final and were expected to at least contend for promotion, didn’t kick their first point until eight minutes before half time when substitute Shane Dempsey scored. They did come within four …

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Clare win again but fail to impress

Clare 1-21 Laois 0-16 Clare made it three wins from three outings in this season’s Allianz hurling league when defeating Laois at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this evening. While the visitors led from the outset, they struggled to pull away from the home side who will wonder if they might have caused an upset had they not been so wasteful when they enjoyed a good spell midway through the second half. Clare started brightly and raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after just three minutes but a brace from Willie Hyland brought the midlanders to within a point. By the mid point of the half it was 0-7 to 0-3 in favour of the visitors who went on to lead 0-13 to 0-8 as the game went into ‘injury time’ at the end of the opening half. Two minutes of ‘injury time’ were signalled and in the second of these a delivery from Bobby Duggan caused problems for the …

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Clare footballers seek third win

WHAT a difference a win makes or, perhaps more significantly, what a difference a performance makes. Everything that Clare lacked in their Round 2 National Football League Division 3 game against Tipperary on February 7 was evident in last Sunday’s six-point win over Limerick. Nobody would question a team that gives all it can and loses a particular game but Clare did not seem fully focused in that first half against Tipperary, while their decision-making on the ball was poor. The challenge for them against Limerick was to first reacquaint themselves with an attitude that would lead to a 70-minute performance. They knew that if that happened, they would have every chance of winning and moving away from the bottom half of the table. Therefore, they will enter Sunday’s game at Cusack Park, Ennis [2pm start] against Westmeath confident and ready for another vital fixture. The Midland county, who defeated Meath for the first time in their history in 2015, …

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Clare wary facing Laois

AFTER a one-week break, Clare will return to hurling league action this Saturday evening when they travel to play Laois in Round 3 at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise at 7pm. As has been the case with their opening two games, Clare will carry the favourites’ tag but team mentors have stressed that they will be taking nothing for granted. Laois haven’t had a good start to this season’s campaign, losing their opening-round game to Kerry and then going down to Offaly last time out. At this stage of the campaign, relegation to Division 2 is a serious concern, so they will be expected to up their game. While Clare have won all recent outings against the Laois men, they haven’t had things their own way and, in fact, have had to pull out all the stops to get victory. In the league quarter-final in 2014, only four points separated the sides at the final whistle, with Clare ahead on a …

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