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Ken Doherty is delighted to return to the World Championship


Former champion Ken Doherty is delighted to return to the World Championship after missing out in recent years

Updated: Friday, 20 Apr 2012 07:51

courtesy of RTE

Ken Doherty - 'The most important thing is that as long as I'm enjoying it, and I'm still competitive'
Ken Doherty – ‘The most important thing is that as long as I’m enjoying it, and I’m still competitive’


Ken Doherty is “over the moon” to be back in Sheffield for the World Championship after twice sampling the pain of missing out.

The 42-year-old Dubliner triumphed at the Crucible in 1997 and was runner-up both a year later and in 2003.

He starts his latest campaign against Australia’s 2010 world champion Neil Robertson on Saturday afternoon, and after failing to qualify in 2009 and last year, Doherty is taking particular satisfaction at earning his place on merit.

The pleasure was made all the more great by the fact he was on the brink of losing to Anthony Hamilton in the final qualifying round last Saturday, when Hamilton led 52-12 in a deciding frame.

Doherty produced a sparkling 62 break, and he described the feeling of coming through that close shave as “absolutely beautiful”.

He said: “I’d more or less resigned myself to losing. There was so much at stake. To come through like that with a great clearance was fantastic. I’ve missed it for two of the last three years, so to be back is great. I’m over the moon.”

Doherty has carved out a media career as a sideline to his snooker, working on Irish radio and BBC television.

But his heart is in snooker, and he told Press Association Sport: “Playing is my priority. If I’m not there, I’d be watching at home on TV anyway. I might as well be there.

“I love being around the game and if I’m not playing I still love being around.

“I enjoy the BBC work but my priority is to keep playing as long as I can, and as long as I can play to a standard.

“I’m not going to be as consistent as I was, but you look at Peter Ebdon, he shocked the world winning the China Open a couple of weeks ago so it is possible.

“The most important thing is that as long as I’m enjoying it, and I’m still competitive, I’m going to keep playing, of course I am.”

With age, Doherty recognises his game is not quite as strong as it once was.

“I think you lose your concentration slightly – that’s about it – but you don’t lose your desire, you don’t lose your hunger,” he said.

“You look at the likes of Jimmy White and Steve Davis – they still have the hunger and love to play, and I’m the same.”

White and Davis both lost in the penultimate qualifying round this year, but Doherty was joined in coming through the nerve-wracking stage by seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry. Hendry takes on Stuart Bingham on the other side of the curtain from the Doherty-Robertson match tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday morning also sees defending champion John Higgins begin his bid to win a fifth Crucible title when the Scot plays China’s Liang Wenbo, while Martin Gould plays David Gilbert.

Higgins and Liang finish off their match in the evening, when Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen and China’s Cao Yupeng get under way

Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona


Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona

Updated: Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012 21:55 courtesy of RTE

Didier Drogba slots home the game's only goal
Didier Drogba slots home the game’s only goal


Didier Drogba’s first-half strike gave Chelsea a narrow yet hugely impressive 1-0 victory over European champions Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final first leg clash.

Against the run of play Drogba got on the end of Ramires’ cross in first-half injury-time and slotted past Victor Valdes to put Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo on for the greatest win of his managerial career.

Alexis Sanchez hit the bar and missed a sitter and Cesc Fabregas had a shot cleared off the line as Chelsea took a battering, but they held on to take a one-goal advantage to the Nou Camp.

The Blues once again proved the nemesis of the team feted by many as the greatest to play the game thanks to an amazing smash-and-grab display in the semi-final first leg at a jubilant Stamford Bridge.

Di Matteo’s plan paid off spectacularly, Drogba scoring the winner to go some way to burying the demons of the sides’ last meeting three years ago.

As well as being magnificent to a man in carrying out the instructions of Di Matteo – whose claim to be appointed manager on a full-time basis is becoming irresistible – Chelsea also enjoyed the kind of luck that deserted them in 2009 and which they have had in spades since the Italian took charge.

They may need plenty more at the Nou Camp on Tuesday to reach their second final after Barca missed a glut of chances after dominating possession from start to finish.

The pattern of the match was set the moment the visitors kicked off, Chelsea allowing them possession to a point and Raul Meireles leading the pressure behind Drogba.

From a defensive point of view, it largely worked, although the visitors should have taken one of the chances to have fallen their way.

Luck played a part in the first of them in the ninth minute, Alexis Sanchez chipping against the crossbar from Andres Iniesta’s perfectly-timed pass.

The other two both fell to Cesc Fabregas courtesy of Lionel Messi, who was otherwise restricted to a quiet half.

The first was a sitter, Fabregas shanking his finish after Messi’s burst and pass had set up Andres Iniesta for a shot Petr Cech parried.

Messi finally had the chance to build up a real head of steam two minutes before half-time, Fabregas this time producing a delightful dink which was only kept out by Ashley Cole’s clearance off the line.

Otherwise Chelsea had plenty to give them hope from what little ball they had.

The benefit of going long was quickly demonstrated when only a heavy touch prevented Drogba capitalising on Cech’s clearance.
Drogba, who got away with overstepping the mark when he trod on Sergio Busquets’ foot, also failed to make the most of a one-on-one with Carles Puyol.

Long throws predictably unsettled Barca, too, and Gary Cahill almost took advantage of the first of them.

Chelsea did tread a fine line discipline-wise, with Meireles lucky not to pick up a booking that would see him suspended for the second leg.

“Same old Barca, always cheating,” chanted the home fans whenever a Barca player went down.

They were in good spirits despite the deluge, which may have played a part in Drogba scoring with the final kick of the first half.

Barca were caught upfield and Frank Lampard’s ball over the top sent Ramires rampaging forward, the Brazilian’s cross picking out Drogba.

Victor Valdes should have saved the scuffed finish but could only help it into the net.

Barca were even more dominant after the restart, Cech parrying Adriano’s curler before Sanchez missed another gilt-edge chance when he stabbed Fabregas’ scooped pass wide from six yards.

Otherwise they were being kept at bay by a world-class defensive display led by Cahill and John Terry, who were almost single-handedly keeping Messi at bay.

Pep Guardiola sent on Pedro for Sanchez with 24 minutes remaining, with Barca becoming increasingly frustrated, not least with perceived play-acting from Drogba, who got an earful from Puyol.

There was finally a booking when Ramires tripped Messi in full flight, Pedro quickly following for a similar offence on Cole.
Busquets was also cautioned for scything down Ramires after Juan Mata was withdrawn for Salomon Kalou.

Fabregas left the field to a chorus of boos for Thiago Alcantara as Chelsea began to drop deeper and deeper, as they had done three years earlier.

Barca laid siege to the Blues goal and Cech produced a magnificent save three minutes’ from time when Puyol glanced Messi’s free-kick towards the corner.

And, in stoppage-time, the visitors saved their worst finish until last, Busquets skying high over the crossbar after Pedro’s effort had hit the post.

Bayern Munich 2-1 Real Madrid


Bayern Munich 2-1 Real Madrid

Updated: Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012 22:06

courtesy of RTE

Mario Gomez (r) celebrates his winner for the German side
Mario Gomez (r) celebrates his winner for the German side


Mario Gomez prodded home a 90th-minute winner to move Bayern Munich a step closer to appearing in the Champions League final in their own stadium with a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the Allianz Arena. 

Franck Ribery gave Bayern the lead in the 17th minute of the semi-final first leg, but Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil levelled early in the second half. 

Bayern dominated for large parts of the game and found a deserved winner in the last minute through the prolific Gomez.

Madrid had the better of the first 10 minutes, but all they could produce was a shot from Karim Benzema which Manuel Neuer tipped over the crossbar after Bastian Schweinsteiger uncharacteristically gave away possession in midfield.

Bayern responded and took the game to their visitors.

Franck Ribery felt he should have had a penalty when he went to ground under a challenge from Sergio Ramos inside the area, but referee Howard Webb waved play on.

But the France winger was soon celebrating as he rifled Bayern in front with a shot from 10 yards, which only just avoided Luiz Gustavo in an offside position.

The hosts were looking dangerous every time they came forward, and those attacks were becoming increasingly frequent, with Arjen Robben marauding down the right and Ribery causing confusion in the Madrid defence down the Bayern left.

But they failed to make their pressure count with Gomez’s shot turned behind by Iker Casillas just before the break.

And Madrid levelled on the counter-attack eight minutes after the break.

Cristiano Ronaldo looked to have wasted the chance when his tame effort, one-on-one with the keeper, was saved by Neuer.

But Karim Benzema picked up the rebound and took the ball back into the area, playing it across goal to Ronaldo, whose clever pull-back gave Ozil a tap-in from a yard out.

Madrid enjoyed their best spell of the game with Bayern and many of the 66,000 fans in the Allianz Arena becoming increasingly anxious.

The Bavarians regrouped and soon got back on top of the game, though.

Gomez spurned an excellent chance to put them back in front in the 71st minute when he lifted the ball over the bar from close range after being teed up unwittingly by Sergio Ramos.

Gomez headed straight at Casillas as the hosts continued to be frustrated in their attempts to find another goal.

Two hopeful penalty claims were waved away by referee Webb as Bayern kept on pressing and their pressure finally paid off in the 90th minute.

Philipp Lahm got to the byline down the right and fired a ball in which Gomez, sliding in, bundled over the line at the near post.

Wigan Beat Arsenal

  1. Arsenal  
  2. Wigan  
Franco di Santo scores for Wigan

16 April 2012Last updated at 21:05 GMT

coutesy of BBC

By Graham ChaseBBC Sport

Early strikes from Franco di Santo and Jordi Gomez helped Wigan ease their relegation worries with their first-ever points at Arsenal.

Di Santo finished off a break and Gomez tapped in to give the Latics a 2-0 lead after eight minutes.

Thomas Vermaelen’s header halved the deficit midway through the first half.

But Arsenal could not find another and wasted the chance to move eight points clear in third, while Wigan are five points above the relegation zone.

Wigan’s run-in

Fulham (away) – 21 April

Newcastle (home) – 28 April

Blackburn (away) – 7 May

Wolves (home) – 13 May

The Latics, who had only won back-to-back Premier League matches once before under Martinez, gave their survival hopes a major boost with a fourth win in five games and they have now lost just twice in 11 matches.

For both of Wigan’s goals, which came in the space of 94 seconds, Mikel Arteta was off the field with an ankle problem that forced his substitution.

But, having had 82 minutes to find a way back, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be frustrated at his team’s failure to claim at least a point.

Despite pinning the visitors in their own half during the second period, Martinez’s side still had the better chances and, having gone into the game with eight wins in nine matches, this was a performance that will raise familiar questions for Wenger.

Wigan, who had lost 12 of their 13 league games in London under Martinez, had previously only managed a goal in the first 20 minutes of a match on one occasion this season so few would have predicted their blistering start.

Vermaelen thumped a shot wide from distance and Yossi Benayoun had a header tipped over by Ali Al-Habsi before the visitors took the lead with an explosive break.

James McCarthy won the ball on the edge of his area and sent Victor Moses into space before Gomez guided a pass through for Di Santo, who touched past Wojciech Szczesny and tapped in.

Double giant-killers

Wigan are the first team to beat Manchester United and Arsenal in consecutive matches since Southampton in 2001

Less than 90 seconds later, Moses was allowed far too much space down the left and, after Szczesny got a hand to Gomez’s first effort, the Spaniard clipped in to double the advantage.

Arsenal pulled one back when Vermaelen met Tomas Rosicky’s cross with a powerful header.

Johan Djourou also shot wide and Rosicky lifted an effort over after a quick break from the hosts.

The Latics continued to be pinned in their own territory after the interval but threatened again when Moses broke and had a curling effort pushed away by Szczesny.

Moses wasted another chance when he tore away from Djourou only to give Szczesny a simple save from well outside the area rather than carry the ball further.

Gomez also volleyed over at the far post after Moses once again tore into space down the left.

Wigan had to endure some anxious moments in the closing stages but Al Habsi was never really stretched and, just five days after their 1-0 win over Manchester United, the Latics held on for a memorable victory.



  • 13 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna Booked
  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 11 Santos
  • 20 Djourou (Oxlade-Chamberlain – 74′ )
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 08 Arteta (Ramsey – 9′ )
  • 14 Walcott
  • 17 Song Booked
  • 30 Benayoun (Gervinho – 61′ )
  • 10 Van Persie


  • 21 Fabianski
  • 18 Squillaci
  • 28 Gibbs
  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 16 Ramsey
  • 27 Gervinho
  • 29 Chamakh

Wigan Athletic

  • 26 Al Habsi Booked
  • 03 Alcaraz
  • 05 Caldwell Booked
  • 17 Boyce
  • 31 Figueroa
  • 04 McCarthy
  • 11 Moses
  • 14 Gomez (Diame – 86′ )
  • 16 McArthur Booked
  • 22 Beausejour
  • 09 Di Santo (Sammon – 75′ )


  • 12 Pollitt
  • 23 Stam
  • 08 Watson
  • 19 Jones
  • 21 Diame
  • 15 McManaman
  • 18 Sammon
Ref: Marriner
Att: 60,060

Nico Rosberg

Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg China

15 April 2012Last updated at 11:35 GMT

 courtesy of BBC

Nico Rosberg will stay strong all season, says Jenson Button

Jenson Button believes Mercedes and Nico Rosberg will be a threat at the front all year following their maiden win in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The German dominated in Shanghai to take his first victory at the 111th attempt and Mercedes’ first since 1955.

“I’m sure this won’t be Nico’s first and last win,” Button said.

“They seem to be very fast this year and Nico hasn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. I think we’ll have a battle on our hands, which is good to see.”

Rosberg led from the start, and an anticipated battle for the lead with Button in the final laps never materialised after the McLaren driver was delayed at his final pit stop.

The two men’s careers have been similar, in that Button had to wait until his 113th race to take his first win.

Button won his world title with Rosberg’s current team in their previous incarnation as Brawn in 2009. Mercedes bought the outfit at the end of that season to return to F1 as a constructor for the first time since 1955.

Button was one of many people in F1 to offer their congratulations to Rosberg.

“They seem to be very fast this year and Nico hasn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. I think we’ll have a battle on our hands, which is good to see”

Jenson Button

“It’s amazing how with some people it can happen immediately, others it takes a bit more time,” Button said. “It’s different for all of us.”

Rosberg, who out-qualified the field by 0.5 seconds to lay the foundations for his victory, also expects Mercedes to continue to be strong.

“From the beginning of the year we were strong in qualifying, but not so in the race,” the 26-year-old said.

“We’re still strong in qualifying and we’re even better in the race. I’m sure we can continue this ongoing development.”

He described his achievement as “very special. Firstly just to win my first race is very special and then everything that comes together – the Silver Arrows, the team have been working together with for the last two years.”

He added: “[It’s an] unbelievable feeling. Very cool, very happy, very excited. It’s been a long time coming for me and the team also.

“It’s amazing, and it’s really nice to see how quickly we are progressing, I didn’t expect to be that fast today,”

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn described Rosberg’s performance as “stunning”.

Rosberg’s team-mate Michael Schumacher was running second in the first stint of the race, holding up a train of cars as Rosberg built a lead, but he was forced into retirement when he was sent out of the pits before a mechanic had tightened his right front wheel.

The team were fined 5,000 Euros (£4,130) for an unsafe release from the pits.

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