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Allen Paul produces stunning display to claim first Tour title in three years

Bowls

By David Mason

Alan Paul last night roared to his second Short Mat Players' Tour victory at the Watson Stadium.

The big Mid-Ulster man won the prestigious Irish Open title - the second world ranking event on the SMPT calendar - defeating fellow countryman Gerry McCabe 11-5 in a gripping final.

Paul's last big win on the tour was back in April 2013 when, in another all-Ireland final, he pipped Kevin Conroy to the World Masters crown.

There was no hiding his delight following his latest success. He topped his group, which included William Morrison, finishing with an unblemished record to claim a place in the knockout phase.

Paul then went into overdrive, beating Andrew Buchanan, Kevin Conroy, Ivan Craig and Sean Conroy before ending the challenge of Paul Beattie in the semi-final, winning a tense affair 8-6 after Paul had ditched the jack that his opponent could do little about.

"I'm thrilled with this win," he said. "I've waited long enough as my last SMPT success was three years ago. It was a tough couple of days, but I expected that. These tournaments are full on."

Paul dominated the showcase decider, moving into an early 4-2 lead. Things looked ominous for McCabe as he fell 7-2 behind. Although he pulled one back, he simply failed to cope with the accuracy of Paul's drawing shots.

With the score at 9-5 - and Paul lying another two - McCabe decided to shake hands.

Results: Cup quarter-finals: V Andersson 7 A Corrigan 8; P Beattie 13 H Gray 2; A Paul 13 S Conroy 8; PJ McCrossan 7 G McCabe 10; Semi-finals: Corrigan 7 McCabe 8; Beattie 6 Paul 8; Final: McCabe 5 Paul 11; Bronze medal: Beattie 11 McCabe 5; Shield quarter-finals: D Winmill 14 R Bell 7; G Moen 11 J Lax 2; S O'Neill 12 K Tinney 4; J Rankin 10 AThompson 9; Semi-finals: Winmill 8 Moen 7; O'Neill 5 Ranking 9; Final: Winmill 12 Ranking 8; Plate quarter finals: K McDermott 3 N Haire 11; R Macken 4 T Bell 12; F McDermott 4 R Smyth 10; D McCann 3 J Erskine 8; Semi finals: Haire 11 Bell 3; Smyth 2 Erskine 11; Final: Erskine 8 Haire 6.

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