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Three Nations golds for Croft twins

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YEARS of dedication to a punishing training schedule paid off in style for Crymych’s remarkable 17-year-old Croft twins on Saturday (May 4) when both stood together on top of the Three Nations Championships podium for the first time at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens.

Southpaw Ioan proved king of the 60kg division, having overcome European champ Adam Azim (Pinewood Star) in the semi-finals en route to winning his second gold in the Three Nations, formerly known as the Great Britain championships.

Croft simply proved too good for Scotland’s Robert Hewitt in Saturday’s final and the unanimous points verdict was never in doubt.

Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft looked on in pride as Ioan’s twin Garan subsequently overcame Scotland’s Reese Lynch on a split decision in the 64kg final to make it a Three Nations double.

“This was Garan’s first Three Nations gold after being so close so many times,” he said.

“For me this was the culmination of eight years’ hard work, to get the boys on the podium together.”

An old rival of Ioan’s, Azim had beaten the Welsh teen in close bouts on their previous two encounters after really setting the benchmark in the 60kg class for the last three or four years.

The reigning European champion was looking to capture his fourth Three Nations title, only for Ioan to find his range immediately with straight sharp jabs and back hands.

“In the first round Ioan came out as sharp as I’ve ever seen him,” recounted Croft senior. “It was soon clear to me he was in control.

“Adam is usually a lightning-sharp counter puncher, but Ioan was in and out with his own shots without getting caught – the first round was close but I felt Ioan had edged it.

“The second  continued much the same way with Ioan taking more and more control while Adam started getting frustrated and making errors.

“The third saw Ioan completely dominate, landing a string of accurate straight backhands which Adam couldn’t seem to avoid.” The decision went to Ioan on a 4-1 split decision, only the English judge voting against the Cardigan ABC boy.

Following Friday’s semi-final drama, Saturday’s finals proved something of an anti-climax as far as Ioan was concerned as he comfortably secured the gold on a unanimous decision against the outclassed Hewitt.

Then it was the turn of Garan who produced a workmanlike display to edge out Scotland’s Reese Lynch whose awkward, spoiling style made for a messy encounter.

Garan, however, still enjoyed some success by landing the cleaner shots, taking the fight to his opponent.

The twins are now taking a well-earned break prior to moving up in weight. Cardigan ABC club-mate Mikey O’Sullivan competes in the Welsh Schoolboy championships next week.

Cardigan ABC are on the hunt for new members. Training nights in the gym off Maesyrhaf are Tuesdays and Thursdays (7pm-8.30pm).

Sport

Division 3: Three-horse race

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THE Division 3 title race and promotion will be decided on Saturday (Aug 24) with three teams all still in the hunt.

Last week, Llanrhian, who had been top prior to their game, saw their match at Llangwm Seconds called off after they claimed their pitch was wet.

Herbrandston then beat Lamphey to move top of Division 3 while the Stags picked up enough points to knock Llanrhian down to third.

Going into the final round of games, Herbrandston are 19 points ahead of Lamphey and 22 points above Llanrhian.

Herbie face a trip to Narberth Seconds knowing a win will see them crowned Champions while a draw would also be enough.

A defeat could allow Lamphey in to be crowned Champions but that would also rely on Herbie not picking up more than 11 points.

Lamphey face fourth placed Laugharne in what is likely to be a tough game for both sides.

Llanrhian still have an outside chance of claiming the title but they would need to rely on Herbie and Lamphey losing their games.

Llanrhian will look to put last week’s disappointment behind them as they host Stackpole.

A win for Llanrhian coupled with a Lamphey defeat or draw could still see them promoted.

Elsewhere, the bottom four sides play each other with one final relegation place to be decided.

Whitland seconds currently sit second from bottom and they travel to fourth from bottom Haverfordwest thirds.

A win for Whitland could move them above Town and if Llangwm also won that could see Town drop down a Division.

Llangwm seconds take on already relegated Lawrenny seconds. Llangwm sit eight points above Whitland and know anything other than a win could let Whitland go above them.

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Division 2: Narberth and Llechryd face off for title

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LLECHRYD will host Narberth on Saturday (Aug 24) with the winners being crowned champions of Division 2.

Both will be playing their cricket in Division 1 next season but the destination of the title will be decided on Saturday.

Going into the game, Llechryd sit top of the Division, 17 points ahead of Narberth. A home win will see Llechryd crowned champions but should Narberth take the win it will be they who go up as champions.

When the two teams met earlier in the season it was Narberth who came out on top with a seven wicket win.

With promotion and relegation decided there is little for the others to play for but some can still improve their final positions.

Pembroke sit third and on Saturday they are away to Kilgetty knowing if they slip up, Hook could claim third place if they beat Carew Seconds.

Relegated sides Johnston and Cresselly seconds will play each other at Glebelands with the winners earning their second win of the season.

Pembroke Dock also take on Haverfordwest seconds and a win for Town in that game will see them jump above the Dock.

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New Solva kit to continue Luke’s Stand Up To Cancer message

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THE family of inspirational cancer fundraising campaigner Luke Harding has donated a new kit to Solva AFC in his memory, which features four words that perfectly sum up the way he battled the illness – Stand Up To Cancer.

Luke, who played for Solva for around a decade, raised more than £30,000 for Withybush Hospital’s Ward 10 and local charities following his diagnosis with stage four lung cancer in 2016.

Medi George, Secretary of Solva AFC said: “Luke played football with the same dedication and energy with which he battled cancer and it is an honour for our club to be able to continue his message in this way.

“We are extremely grateful to Alex, Peter and the Harding family for this kind gesture and it is fitting that our players were able to wear the kit for the first time in the final of the first annual Luke Harding Memorial Cup.”

The kit was unveiled at Fishguard Sports’ ground before the final of the competition, with Goodwick United 2nds running out eventual 3-1 winners against Solva 2nds. The tournament also included Fishguard Sports and Letterston, which Luke also represented.

Ruth Amies, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, said: “We are extremely grateful to Luke’s family and to Solva AFC for supporting Stand Up To Cancer which funds life-saving research in Wales and across the UK. The new kit is a wonderful tribute to Luke who fundraised tirelessly throughout his diagnosis and we are thrilled the players wore the new kit for the first time this week.”

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