Glen Durrant wins maiden PDC title with Players Championship Four in Wigan

Glen Durrant sealed his first ever PDC title, beating World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 8-3 to win Players Championship Four in Wigan on Sunday.

The three-time Lakeside World Champion, who finished runner-up to Dave Chisnall at Players Championship Two in just his second day on the PDC circuit, scooped the £10,000 top prize after seeing off the young Belgian.

Durrant made his first televised appearance as a PDC professional, losing to Daryl Gurney when the Premier League roadshow hit Glasgow last Thursday.

  • Nine-dart MVG wins Players Championship

And the 48-year-old from Middlesbrough continued his dream start to life in the PDC as he beat Jamie Lewis, Richie Edhouse, Joe Cullen, Mensur Suljovic and youngster Bradley Brooks before averaging a colossal 109.3, as well as landing a 128 checkout in a high-class affair against Gerwyn Price, to reach the final.

Durrant made a dominant start in the final, racing into a 3-0 lead to immediately put Van den Berg on the back foot.

The pair traded 13 darters as the Belgian got a foothold in the game, with the final then going with throw for the next four legs.

A 12-dart break of throw from Durrant – the best leg of the final – was to follow as he landed his third 180, a 140 and 130 to set up a 51 checkout and move to within a leg of the title.

  • Best of the darts in Glasgow

He sealed a famous victory with a 76 checkout to round off a comprehensive 8-3 win.

Saturday’s winner Michael van Gerwen was on the receiving end of a 6-1 thumping at the hands of World Championship semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall.

Yes, and as another Twitterer pointed out, it marked his 8th loss of the past 5 years. He also lost 6-0 to Peter Wright in 2017.

The Players Championship action continues next weekend (February 23-24) with events Five and Six at the Barnsley Metrodome.

What comes next? Night Three – Thursday, February 21 at the 3Arena, Dublin

The Premier League heads to the 3Arena in Dublin on Thursday, February 21. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews

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Valerie Loureda makes short work of Colby Fletcher on her MMA debut

Valerie Loureda lived up to her billing on her Bellator MMA debut as the 20-year-old taekwondo black belt made short work of Colby Fletcher.

Loureda showcased her arsenal of weapons in the flyweight match-up before turning up the heat to dispatch her opponent with a TKO victory at 2:55 of the opening round at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

  • MVP outpoints Daley

“This is a moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was little girl,” an emotional Loureda said in her post-fight interview. “My whole life I dreamed of the moment I could have the platform to show my martial arts to the world.”

🧸 #Bellator216 @valerielouredaa

Yaroslav Amosov stayed undefeated with a unanimous points decision over veteran Erick Silva.

The 25-year old Ukrainian was given a 29-27 and a pair of 29-28s to move 2-0 in Bellator.

Cheick Kongo battled his way to victory over former Bellator heavyweight champ Vitaly Minakov with a unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 30-27 and a pair of 29-28s in favour of the 43-year old Paris native (30-10-2).

Mirko Cro Cop was also awarded a unanimous decision with revenge over Roy Nelson having lost to his opponent at UFC 137.

Cro Cop was awarded the fight 30-27 and a pair of 29-28s as the 44-year-old made it 7-0 in rematches.

  • MVP v Daley II in the UK?

“Roy is tough, a hard puncher,” Cro Cop said. “I will say it was more mentally hard for me than physically. It’s always hard to go into rematch when you lose the first fight.”

Sky Sports will be the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch the US, London and Dublin shows of the Bellator MMA 2019 tour.

Sky Sports fight dates announced:

  • Bellator 217: Gallagher vs. Graham – Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 – 3Arena – Dublin
  • Bellator 218: Sanchez vs. Grimshaw – Friday, March 22 – WinStar World Casino & Resort – Thackerville, OK, USA
  • Bellator 219: Koreshkov vs. Larkin – Friday, March 29 – Pechanga Resort Casino – Temecula, CA, USA
  • Bellator 220: MacDonald vs. Fitch – Saturday, April 27 – SAP Center – San Jose, CA, USA

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How quickly are Dublin progressing, and more GAA weekend talking points

Ahead of the weekend’s GAA action, we look at at the main talking points.

How quickly are Dublin progressing?

The biggest test of the Mattie Kenny era to date comes on Sunday afternoon, as Dublin travel to Galway. The Tribesmen will be eager to bounce back following their draw with Carlow, but there is no doubt that this is a bigger game for the visitors.

After three narrow losses last summer, the Sky Blues will be eager to deliver some results this spring ahead of the championship.

The Dubs have had a positive start to 2019, as the former Cuala supremo seemingly has an idea of his best 15. With the spine of the team settled, there is real competition for places in the forward line, with Donal Burke, Danny Sutcliffe , Oisin O’Rorke and Eamonn Dillon among those to impress thus far.

After victories over Carlow and Offaly, they are facing a step up in standard. Sunday provides the first real litmus test of 2019.

Can Cork get lift-off?

Cork host Clare on Saturday night, with the game taking place at Páirc Uí Rinn. While a league title was never top of the agenda for the Rebels facing into 2019, with young players being blooded into the side, they are the sole Division 1A team without any wins thus far in the campaign.

Add in the venue controversies. and John Meyler will want his side to avoid any pressure building when the Banner come to town on Saturday night.

Clare travel south with a spring in their step after their victory over Kilkenny, and Cork will need to significantly raise their game to dig out a result.

Will Limerick pass the latest test?

The reigning All-Ireland champions are going about their business just the right way. They encounter another significant test this weekend when they travel to Kilkenny.

John Kiely’s young side have admirably dealt with expectations up to this point, but face a step up on Sunday afternoon.

There’s nothing Brian Cody would like more than sending the All-Ireland champions home with their tails between their legs. The Cats will be gunning to bring down the Treaty, and playing Kilkenny in Nowlan Park remains one of the trickiest assignments in hurling.

Can Carlow maintain momentum?

Carlow were the story of round two of the Allianz Hurling League, as they held Galway at home. However, there’s no time to stand back and admire their achievements, as their trip to Waterford is coming down the tracks.

The Déise have been utterly dominant thus far, and with Laois and Offaly facing off this weekend, Carlow will know that they are far from safe from the clutches of a relegation play-off just yet.

Carlow showed they are at home at this level in their opening two games, after leading Dublin at half-time and drawing with Galway, but Waterford’s early-season form ensures Colm Bonnar’s charges will need to take another step up.

Will there be a shock in the club football semi-finals?

Anything other than Corofin and Dr Crokes wins would represent a major shock this weekend.

It’s odds-on that the 2017 and 2018 All-Ireland champions will face off in the decider, but there’s nothing like club GAA to provide a shock.

Mullinalaghta have defied expectations up to this point, overcoming Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster final. The Longford champions have earned the respect of the country so won’t be underestimated by the Killarney outfit. Nonetheless, the manner in which the Kerry champions returned to the All-Ireland series would suggest they will be hard to stop.

Similarly, Gaoth Dobhair’s historic Ulster title was an indication that they’re right at home at this level, but most are predicting that Corofin will be too strong.

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GPA to seek seat at table of CCCC for GAA fixture planning

Gaelic Players Association CEO Paul Flynn says the players’ body is seeking a seat at the table of the CCCC for when fixtures are being set.

There is ongoing controversy surrounding scheduling of matches within the GAA, with various competitions overlapping at this time of year, including the Allianz Leagues, third level competitions as well as the All-Ireland club championships.

“There’s more need for all the bodies to be involved in the decision making,” said Flynn. “The fixtures is something that’s vitally important across the organisation.

“For us, it’s about who do we represent? We represent the inter county players.

“We want our voice heard with regards to fixtures and that’s the committee (CCCC) that decides it, so we feel we should have a seat at the table.”

Flynn feels that it’s not an impossible task to offer certainty for players:

“A couple of weeks ago I got sent every game I am going to have for Fingallians right up until the end of the year.

“Any of the games that are fixed we have them, and any of the games that are fixed for inter county I have them so it can be done.

“It’s up to County Boards with regard to club fixtures across the board to work hard to emulate some of the programmes. I know in Kildare it’s similar and across the board in counties they have done this and shared the fixtures.

“Each of the County Boards has to take responsibility for that aspect of it. More joined up thinking with regards to whether it be third level, colleges so forth.”

The GPA are tabling a motion to Congress to have a seat at the CCCC, but only in regards to fixtures, and not in other functions of the committee such as disciplinary procedures.

“We have no vote,” he explained. “All we do is give that information and leave the room. We feel that when they are talking about fixtures, inter county games, it is very, very easy for us to be in there.

“But, also to be actually a decision maker and not just be in there and give feedback.

“We can leave again if they want to discuss other issues. That’s the purposes of it.

“I think if, from speaking to people within the GAA leadership team, broadly speaking it’s been received quite possibly, and hopefully that will be the case at Congress and we can get an opportunity to speak to people, around us explaining why we want to be there. It’s for no other reason other than to be part of the decision making process.”

“Joined-up thinking is important when it comes to fixtures.”

Flynn is eager to see change

Flynn also discussed the Club Players Association, and stated that the CPA’s aims are aligned with those of the GPA.

“We have met with them a number of times,” the Dublin footballer explained. “They have been pretty clear about what’s their mandate. It is to fix the fixtures. And if you look at our own congress motion it is aligned to fixing the fixtures.

“There are aspects where we are quite aligned. That seems to be their main mandate and they reckon once they fix the fixtures they can disband as such.

“Fixtures is one element of what we do and it falls under one are of representation.

“We have a breadth of work going on around player welfare and the player development elements too.

“Joined-up thinking is important when it comes to fixtures.”

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Ladies football wrap: Galway and Donegal set the pace

Galway and Donegal are the early pace-setters in Division 1 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League after both sides maintained their perfect starts to the competition.

Tim Rabbitte’s side claimed a two-point away win in Monaghan, with the Leonard cousins, Tracey and Roisin, contributing all nine of their points, while Maxi Curran’s Donegal turned on the style with a 3-10 to 2-7 victory over Mayo in Convoy on Sunday.

As well as the Leonards, Galway had substitute Sarah Conneally to thanks for their win in Cloghan. Conneally’s goal in the second-half put Galway clear, although Leanne Maguire hit back for the home side to set up a grandstand finish.

But points were hard to come by on a tough afternoon for football and after they were tied 0-4 each at the interval, the flurry of scores did not arrive in the closing stages either. Roisin Leonard was off target with a late penalty, but Tracey slotted her sixth free late on to wrap up the win.

In Donegal, captain Karen Guthrie led the way again as her side fought hard to earn their second win as their strong finish shook off the challenge of Peter Leahy’s Mayo.

Guthrie’s 1-2 haul in the first 12 minutes saw Donegal lead by six points early on, but Mayo recovered from the loss of captain Niamh Kelly to the sin bin and her goal pulled them level at half-time 1-6 each.

Mayo briefly took the lead, but a 43rd minute goal from Ciara Grant and another one from Roisin Friel gave the home side the breathing space to seal victory – despite Rachel Kearns’ reply for Mayo.

After their losses last week, perhaps it was no shock to see TG4 All-Ireland finalists from 2018, Dublin and Cork, both claim their first wins of the 2019 League. Six-goal Dublin took their frustration out on Tipperary with a dominant 6-9 to 2-8 win at Ardfinnan, while Cork strolled to a 0-10 to 0-2 win over home side Westmeath.

Both Siobhan Killeen and Lyndsey Davey scored two goals each for Dublin in a strong performance, while Nicole Owens and Carla Rowe also found the net for the defending Lidl NFL champions.

A goal from Tipp’s Roisin Daly meant Dublin’s half-time lead closed to 3-4 to 1-3, but as Bohan rolled through his unlimited subs – he used nine throughout – Dublin kept the pressure on. Davey and Killeen doubled their tallies after the break before Aisling Moloney hit the net for the home side, but it was a stroll to victory for Dublin.

And in Mullingar, Cork were never threatened as Orla Finn’s four points kept them clear of Westmeath as Ephie Fitzgerald’s side bossed this encounter.

Cork were 0-6 to 0-1 ahead at the break thanks to Niamh Cotter, Aine O’Sullivan and Finn, but Rachel Dillon’s point was all Westmeath could manage before the interval.

It did not get any better on the resumption and Cork raced into a nine-point lead before Maud Annie Foley kicked Westmeath’s second score at the death.

In Division 2, Armagh have already opened up a two-point lead at the top of the table thanks to their comprehensive win over Cavan at Clonmore on Sunday. Aimee Mackin hit a goal in each half for the Orchard girls, who were far too strong for their visitors in a 2-17 to 0-3 win.

Tyrone and Waterford are hot on Armagh’s heels though: last year’s TG4 IFC champions Tyrone earned their first win at home against Laois, who are bottom of the standings after their second loss. And Waterford’s draw in Tralee, secured thanks to Aileen Wall’s late goal, sees them maintain their good start to the competition, while Wexford and Clare had to be happy with a share of the spoils.

In Division 3, a late, late goal from Sheila Brady rocked Kildare and gave Roscommon their second win in a week and sees them pull clear at the top of the table, while Longford edged past Sligo. In the two games played as double headers with the men’s NFL games, Wicklow defeated Down at Aughrim, while Meath turned on the style and fired five goals past Offaly to take the honours at Páirc Tailteann.

And in the bottom tier Leitrim defeated Derry, Fermanagh rocked Antrim with a late goal at The Dub, Louth won well at home to Kilkenny, while Limerick lost out narrowly to Carlow at Askeeton.

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Morocco ready to host African Nations Championship

In the next few hours Morocco will kick off against Mauritania to get the fifth edition of the African Nations Championship underway in Casablanca.

    In the next few hours, Morocco will kick off against Mauritania to get the fifth edition of the African Nations Championship underway in Casablanca.

    It’s the biggest football tournament on the continent for home-grown talent.

    Morocco’s football fortunes are on the rise after qualifying for this year’s World Cup.

    Close to 45,000 spectators will be at the renovated Stade Mohammed V.

    The country is hoping that this tournament will be a stepping stone to bigger things in the future.

    Al Jazeera’s Sana Hamouche reports from Casablanca, Morocco.

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    AFC: No neutral venues for Saudi-Qatar football matches

    Asia’s football governing body rejects Saudi Arabia’s call for moving fixtures against Qatar to neutral state amid rift.

      Saudi Arabia must host Qatar’s football teams during the Asian Champions League for home fixtures next month and allow Saudi teams to travel to the neighbouring state for away matches despite the Gulf diplomatic crisis, according to the ruling of Asia’s football governing body.

      The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Saturday said it rejected Riyadh’s call to have all matches against Qatar to be moved to a neutral territory.

      “Clubs from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should be played on a home and away basis in 2018 as per the AFC regulations,” AFC said in a statement published on its website.

      The statement said AFC made the decision following an independent safety and security assessment.

      Saudi football teams are due to travel to Qatar for away matches beginning next month.

      Travel ban

      Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal have been placed with Qatar’s Al Rayyan in Group D of the AFC Champions League beginning February 12.

      Qatar’s Al Sadd are in Group C along with the UAE’s Al Wasl, while in Group B Qatar’s Al Duhail are pitted against the UAE’s Al Wahda.

      In June last year after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt broke diplomatic ties with Qatar. The quartet also imposed a ban on travel in and out of Qatar.

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      Horan hands out two debuts in Mayo team for league opener

      James Horan has handed out two debuts in the starting team to face Roscommon in Saturday’s National League opener.

      With all the hype and excitement surrounding Horan’s return, many are intrigued to see what the men in green and red will offer in 2019. After this group went so close to landing All-Ireland honours in 2016 and 2017, the new boss will be eager to give the side an added edge.

      Two young players have been handed their debuts, with Conor Diskin and Brian Reape named in the full forward line.

      Claremorris club man Diskin was one of the county’s standout stars in the run to last summer’s U20 All-Ireland final, while 2016 U21 All-Ireland winner Reape will be looking to make an impression.

      Meanwhile, Jason Doherty will be making his 100th appearance for Mayo.

      Mayo team to face Roscommon:

      1. Robert Hennelly
      2. Eoin O’Donoghue
      3. Brendan Harrison
      4. Keith Higgins
      5. Lee Keegan
      6. Colm Boyle
      7. Paddy Durcan (C)
      8. Diarmuid O’Connor
      9. Donal Vaughan
      10. Fergal Boland
      11. Aidan O’Shea
      12. Jason Doherty
      13. Evan Regan
      14. Brian Reape
      15. Conor Diskin

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      England beat Australia at Quad Series – here are the talking points…

      Tamsin Greenway has reflected on the Netball Quad Series which concluded with England Roses defeating Australia Diamonds but narrowly missing out on the title…

      Netball Quad Series final standings

      What is the significance of England’s win over Australia?

      England proved [that beating Australia at the Commonwealth Games] wasn’t a fluke which is absolutely brilliant. England needed to win against Australia.

      It was a really important win. They needed to win by five goals to win the overall Quad Series and didn’t, unfortunately, but a win by three goals will give them so much confidence ahead of the World Cup. A scalp of the world No 1 is so important.

      A scalp of the world No 1 is so important.

      Tamsin Greenway

      What England players shone brightest?

      Tracey Neville was really brave in game three of the Quad Series by starting a new combination. Nat Haythornwaite got the nod at Wing Attack and was fantastic – she was fantastic and will definitely be on the bus to Liverpool.

      We have to talk about Rachel Dunn. She came off the bench in the second quarter of the match – England were five down at this point, but won the quarter 18-10.

      At 36 years old it is an amazing comeback from being left out of the Commonwealth Game squad nine months ago.

      At this stage, we need to see who the big players are. Dunn has to have booked her place in the World Cup squad.

      Serena Guthrie played incredibly well in every game. She is the best mid-courter in the world. She captained the side so there was extra pressure but she lived up to expectations.

      Your thoughts on England’s defeat by South Africa?

      It shows how close world netball is, at the moment. You can’t take anyone for granted. The Quad Series had extra, extra time with South Africa and New Zealand. Four games were decided by three goals which is nothing in netball. On any given day the fourth, fifth or sixth team in the world can beat the top teams.

      England’s players will now be split between the Superleague and ANZ in Australia…

      Of the squad of 12 at the Quad Series, six will head off to Australia and six will remain. The Superleague is massive preparation and starts again this weekend which is brilliant because the players don’t want a break.

      Those that are overseas will have a couple of months break and then they will start their competition.

      Neville has a headache because, not only has she got to manage the players in this country, but she has to make sure that those overseas are performing well. The next six months will be a testing time.

      How can she blend the squad? And hope there are no injuries. It has been a risk for Serena Guthrie and Ama Agbeze to come back to this country because the ANZ is the best competition in the world. It is upping the level of our game.

      Sky Sports will show every game of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup live in July. A huge year for netball continues with the Vitality Netball Superleague, starting on Monday, January 28 when Team Bath take on Surrey Storm, live on Sky Sports.

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      Freya Anderson, Marta Bassino and Ellen Keane compete around country

      Three Sky Sports Scholars were in the heat of competition at the weekend to kick-start their new year in lively fashion.

      Swimmer Freya Anderson was part of an 18-strong GB squad at the Flanders Cup in Antwerp and the 17-year-old European champion was the star of the show by gracing the podium twice.

      On day one it was gold in the 100m Freestyle, and on day two she swam a lifetime best of 1 minute 59.17 seconds to secure victory in the 200m Freestyle.

      “I’m really happy with my races at the weekend and I feel I’m in a really good place,” she said.

      “I feel I can practice my processes much better throughout my races and I cannot wait for the rest of the season and to get back to the hard work back home.”

      Italian skier Marta Bassino would have been hard pushed to improve on her incredible bronze in the Giant Slalom at Kronplatz last week in the World Cup.

      There were no podiums for the 22-year-old but she let nobody down on the Italian slopes in Cortina with a 21st and 26th place in the downhill and on Sunday just missed out on the points in the Super G by one place.

      “I was expecting a better performance in the Super G but everyday I’ve learned something new,” Bassino said.

      “It was a great speed weekend and I’m really happy about my efforts in the downhill.”

      Quante emozioni!! 💫🦋🌻 Che bello tornare sul podio in gigante condividendolo con due campionesse come @mikaelashiffrin e @tessaworley La giornata di oggi mi ha regalato dei momenti magici, grazie a tutti per aver creato questa meravigliosa atmosfera a @skiworldcupkronplatz e tutti voi che avete tifato da casa! 🙏🏻❤️ #kronplatz #salomonracing #sonsofablast #timetoplay #helvetia #misura #skysport #skyscholars #limoneriservabianca #csesercito #esercitoitaliano #leki #sportiscrew #sick #GSsheep #ethicsport

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      Para-swimmer Ellen Keane shrugged off a bad ear infection to compete in the Regional Leinster Open in Dublin.

      Despite the illness, the 23-year-old Paralympic ‘veteran’ was just happy to be competing again.

      “I was just doing race practice rather than being ‘full steam ahead’ so it was good to shake the cobwebs off,” the Dublin swimmer said.

      “The time wasn’t as fast as I wanted but it’s only January and it’s a good starting point for the year.”

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