With just a few days separating the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Champion-ships now under way at the National Stadium and Jamaica’s crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at the same venue, Independence Park Limited (IPL) has taken several steps to ensure that the wear on the surface is limited. IPL General Manager Major Desmon Brown told The Gleaner that every effort is being made to limit the effect that the five-day high school track and field championships will have on the infield area, with the hope of ensuring the surface remains in pristine condition with the Reggae Boyz March 25 qualifier in mind. “What we hope to do, and we will try as best as possible, is to limit any damage to the infield area during Champs of course,” said Brown. “At the same time, we don’t want to kill the spirit for Champs, but it’s also important to do our best to preserve the surface as best as we can ahead of the World Cup qualifier.” Adjustments include the repositioning of electronic advertising boards to the cycle track in front of the bleachers section – from their customary spot at the edge of the infield area – and the addition of protective mats in the shot put vector. “Basically, events like the javelin and discus don’t do too much damage to the surface itself, but for shot put, we have put in the protective turf because that can really create some problems,” Brown added. Officials will also be limiting movement across the infield and have erected protective bordering to help where this is concerned. Brown did, however, admit that they may find it difficult to enforce this restriction at the end of the championships when the winners are announced. “If it’s a one-off thing like what we see from time to time at the end of Champs when winners are announced, it wont have too much of an effect,” he reasoned. The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships will come to an end on Saturday night Calabar High and Edwin Allen High are defending their respective boys’ and girls’ titles. Meanwhile, the Reggae Boyz will be looking to improve on their three points secured to date in their CONCACAF semi-final round World Cup qualifying campaign against Costa Rica on March 25.
Sheffield United continued their fine cup form this season as they stunned Queens Park Rangers 3-0 at Loftus Road to book their place in the FA Cup fourth round.The Blades, who will face Tottenham in the League Cup semi-final in January, went ahead when Marc McNulty coolly slotted past Alex McCarthy before Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s brace sealed another impressive victory in cup competitions for Nigel Clough’s side.The Premier League outfit started strongly, with Leroy Fer and Jordon Mutch producing fine saves from Mark Howard.But it was the visitors who opened the scoring in the first-half as McNulty converted Louis Reed’s through-ball for his ninth goal of the season.QPR’s top-scorer Charlie Austin came close to pegging the hosts level five minutes before the break, but the former Swindon and Burnley striker headed over from close range.And the Hoops, who made seven changes from Thursday’s draw with Swansea, found themselves 2-0 down four minutes after the restart thanks to Campbell-Ryce’s close range finish.The hosts failed to clear a Blades corner, before Reed found the winger who was able to poke the ball past McCarthy.And the 31-year-old capped off a fine display with United’s third, calmly rounding McCarthy before guiding the ball home.Meanwhile, Scott Dann’s brace guided Crystal Palace to a comfortable 4-0 win against non-league Dover Athletic in Alan Pardew’s first game in charge.The visitors took the lead inside the opening ten minutes when Dann reacted fastest from a corner, steering the ball past Andy Rafferty from six yards.And, with the hosts growing in confidence, Pardew’s side doubled their advantage with Dann again on target, heading Barry Bannan’s corner past Rafferty.And the Eagles should have extended their lead when Wilfried Zaha intelligently played in Stuart O’Keefe, but the 23-year-old failed to hit the target.Dwight Gayle netted Palace’s third with a drilled finish past Rafferty – his 15th goal for the club – before Kevin Doyle’s tap-in secured their place in the fourth round.Finally, Sunderland avoided a cup upset with a 1-0 win against Leeds United at the Stadium of Light.The visitors were let off the hook when Steven Fletcher fired over from close range early in the match, but the Scotland international would be involved in the game’s opener.The 27-year-old teed up Patrick van Aanholt inside the box and the Dutch full-back supplied a low, crisp finish to put the Black Cats ahead just after the half-hour mark.Despite the introduction of Billy Sharp after the restart, Neil Redfearn’s side failed to trouble Costel Pantilimon while Flecther and Jordi Gomez were denied Sunderland’s second by Leeds’ shot-stopper Marco Silvestri. Sheffield United celebrate at Loftus Road 1