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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

YESTERDAY’S STRONG performance by Irish cyclist Nicholas Roche yesterday has pushed him into 13th place overall in the Tour de France. Roche took seventh place in Stage 10, finishing under 13 minutes behind the winner. Sergio Paulinho won the leg, but Andy Schleck remains race leader.

THIERRY HENRY is leaving Barcelona – for New York. The 32-year-old French striker has signed with the New York Red Bulls in a multi-year deal, despite having one year left on his contract with the Spanish side. Man United’s Ryan Giggs has ruled out a similar move, saying he won’t be finishing his career in the US. Giggs holds the club record for his 838 appearances.

DUBLIN AND WEXFORD are set to clash this evening in the U-21 Leinster Hurling Final at Parnell Park. Dublin quashed the Kilkenny cats at the semi-final stage to qualify for their eights Leinster final since 2001. Wexford beat Dublin in 2001 and 2002 to take the title.

A SCAN OF Liverpool striker Fernando Torres’s left leg shows that the player ruptured a muscle in his thigh during Sunday’s World Cup final. Torres was brought on a sub during his team’s first World Cup victory but was not long on the pitch before he pulled up suddenly in evident pain. The injury means it’s unlikely he’ll start for Liverpool in the coming Premier League season.

THE IRISH FOOTBALL TEAM have climbed up fives places in the world rankings to 36th, despite not making it to the World Cup. The new rankings out today put Spain at number one, up one place. England meanwhile have also moved up one place to seventh in the rankings, despite a dismal performance at the World Cup.

France have suffered one of the biggest drops, dropping 12 places to 21 after crashing out of the World Cup amid team rows and controversy reminiscent of Ireland in Saipan.

Ireland was 12th in February 2005 but peaked at number 6 in July 1993.

NICHOLAS ROCHE is 17th overall after stage 9 of the Tour de France. The Irish rider tweeted “Disappointed, again! Ha ha” in response to the stage. French cyclist Sandy Casar won the stage, and Andy Schleck took over the leader’s yellow jersey. Previous leader Cadel Evans lost over eight minutes after a disastrous ride during today’s leg.

SOUTH AFRICA’S Olympic Committee says it will bid to host the 2020 Olympic Summer Games after the successful staging of the FIFA World Cup which finished on Sunday. South Africa had bid for the 2004 games to be held in Cape Town but lost out to Athens.

A RECORD NUMBER of US viewers tuned in to Sunday’s World Cup final. 24.3 million people tuned in over two major networks, making it the most-watched soccer game ever in the US. Some 700 million around the world are estimated to have followed the action live.

ARSENAL FANS have cried foul after their club captain Cesc Fabregas was seen wearing a Barcelona jersey at Spain’s World Cup celebrations.

Fabregas was accosted by Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique – both of whom play for the Spanish champions – who wrapped a jersey around the midfielder and proclaimed him “the future of Barcelona”.

Both Puyol and Pique have been outspoken in their wish for Fabregas to move to the club. The midfielder is currently in the middle of a tug-of-war between Arsenal and the Catalan club over the player’s services.

The player has given mixed messages about any desire to stay at Arsenal, who rebuffed a €35m transfer offer from Barca before the start of the World Cup.

Fabregas – who is from Catalonia and trained in Barcelona’s youth setup – went as far as to dedicate his World Cup win to the Gunners, but separately said he was “proud to have been an Arsenal player”.

Influential Arsenal fan blog Arseblog, based in Dublin, denounced Puyol and Pique’s prank as a “scummy trick”.

“If anything displays the monstrous, out of control egos that exist at Barcelona, it’s the fact that two of their players hijacked Spain’s World Cup celebrations for purely selfish Catalan motives,” it wrote.

Elsewhere at the celebrations, Andres Iniesta – who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final – was spotted holding a toy octopus, in tribute to Paul who predicted Spain’s victory as well as all seven of Germany’s results.

ENGLAND’S WORLD CUP final referee Howard Webb and GAA whistleblower Martin Sludden have both received death threats after less-than-satisfactory performances at the weekend.

Webb was roundly booed by fans from all sides when collecting his medal after the World Cup final, having booked 14 players and sent off the Netherlands’ Johnny Heitinga – a record card tally for a final.

Webb has since received poison pen letters from angered Dutch fans who blame Webb for their team’s defeat – prompting the British Referee’s Association to leap to his defence.

“We all want to see matches that are freeflowing and entertaining,” said a spokesman. “It was not Howard’s fault that this one was tempestuous and ugly.”

Webb has admitted to friends that Sunday night was “the most difficult two hours of my career,” according to the Daily Mail.

Sludden, meanwhile, has repeated faced the ire of Louth supporters on Facebook who have issued threats of their own over Facebook.

“Martin Sludden. What a guy! The punches yesterday were well deserved, you fat ****”, wrote one fan.

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