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Big test on short mat for world No1 Mark

By David Mason

Mark Beattie insists he feels no added pressure as he goes for his fourth Short Mat Players' Tour bowls title at the Watson Stadium tomorrow.

The big Foyle man, who sits proudly on top of the world ranking table, is under no illusions that it will be another testing weekend, with the Irish Open title - sponsored by Ramada Plaza Hotel - up for grabs. The tournament has a record entry of 162 competitors, hailing from six countries.

Beattie has already had his hands on the UK Open, the European Masters and the World Masters. He's now hoping to add the prestigious Irish crown to that impressive array of honours.

"I've been quite fortunate, having already got my hands on three titles," he said.

"In fact in the last six Short Mat Tour events, I've managed to finish in the top four in five of them.

"I really enjoy competing in that type of tournament. I think it's the way forward. You are guaranteed four games on Saturday and two on Sunday. Then there could be a lot more depending on how you finish in the group stage."

Beattie, from Sion Mills, is pitched in with Andrew Morrison, Valerie Witherow, Aidan Corrigan, Lawrence Moffatt and Alistair Mehaffy in his group.

The Beattie-Morrison clash will be the first game on the 'show mat' that will be introduced at the Watson Stadium for the first time.

Northern Ireland's PJ McCrossan, who is the current Irish Open title holder is back to defend his title as are Jal Richardson and Joe Beattie, who won silver and bronze last time.

The 'show mat' schedule for Saturday is: 9am: A Morrison v M Beattie; 9.45: G McCabe v J Payne; 10.30: J Hager v S McSorley; 11.15: N Hand v PJ McCrossan; Noon: W Morrison v S Conroy; 12.45pm: P McElvaney v G McNabb; 13.30: D Almen v P Bax; 14.15: S Gale v R Gamble; 15.00: N Haire v L Toelman; 15.45: V Witherow v A Corrigan; 16.30: O Kelly v P Pomeroy; 17.15: J Richardson v K Conroy.

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