Bowls: McClure Channelling energy in right direction
Ian McClure admits he has a big reputation to live up to in the British Isles Bowls Championships that get under way at Belmont in Belfast, this morning (9.30am).
McClure comes up against Guernsey's Matt le Ber in a singles preliminary round tie.
Victory would earn the Portrush player a semi-final outing against Jersey's Alan Quemard.
“I'll take one game at a time and concentrate on the prelim match,” says the Irish international.
“It's a big task because Ireland have such a good record in the singles discipline.
“Marty McHugh, Clifford Craig, my big mate Jeremy (Henry) and Noel Graham have all had their hands on the trophy in recent years.
“It puts a little added pressure on me, but I'll be giving it my best shot.”
Dunbarton are going for a British double, involved in the pairs and triples.
The Mulholland brothers — Terry and Chris — feature in the pairs, with Darren McElroy, Gary McElroy and Clifford Dennison competing in the triples.
Young Chris McCall will attempt to bring the Junior singles title back to the Province.
He also faces a preliminary test against Wales' Mark Thomas.
The rink of Simon Colvin, Rodney, Barry Kane and Mervyn McKeeman come up against either Scotland or Guernsey in the semi final of the fours. Finals are scheduled for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Ireland boss Jim Baker insists his team are in 'prime condition' ahead of the Home International Series that gets under way on Saturday.
Old Bleach's Sammy Hall and James Murphy, from Blackrock, are scheduled to make their Ireland debut, while Ulster Transport's Brendan Thompson has been recalled to the team.
Baker, who took over the managerial reins from Roy McCune, believes home advantage will play a big part in Ireland's quest to regain the title.
The Irish face Scotland in their opening match, followed by an equally tough assignment against England.
“We have been practising on the green over recent weeks, making use of any little advantage we can get,” said Baker. “The boys are oozing with confidence and can't wait to get started.
“Scotland will be a really tough start, although we usually do quite well against them.
“They will not fancy facing us on our home green in the opener, with hopefully, a big support behind us. We won the championship that last time it was played at Belmont. It would be nice to repeat that feat.”
Murphy has been named at lead in Noel Graham's rink, while Hall comes in at second to McCloy. Thompson will play third in Jonathan Ross's combination.
Today: Singles (9.30am): Preliminary rounds: 1 S Tolchard (England) v R Jones (Wales); 2 M le Ber (Guernsey) v I McClure (Ireland). Semi-finals (2pm): W Hogg (Scotland) v winner prelim 1; A Quemard (Jersey) winner prelim 2.
Junior singles (9.30am): Preliminary rounds: M Thomas (Wales) v C McCall (Ireland). Semi finals (2pm): I McMillan (Scotland) v A Sexton (England); J McDonald (Jersey) winner of prelim.
Pairs (9.30am): Preliminary rounds: 1 T Mulholland, C Mulholland (Dunbarton) v A Meikle, A Holden (England); 2 D Hush, J Hogg (Scotland) v T Murphy, T Allen (Jersey). Semi finals (2pm): I Henderson, M Selway (Wales) v winner prelim 2; Winner prelim 1 v D de la Mare, M le Ber (Guernsey).
Triples (9.30am): Preliminary rounds: 1 M McCallum, J Bell, J Stewart (Scotland) v R Mann, R Tansley, V Geary (England); 2 T Allen, R Allen, B Bisson (Jersey) v P Hookings, M Lewis, M Davies (Wales). Semi finals (2pm): D McElroy, G McElroy, C Dennison (Dunbarton) v winner prelim 1; Winner prelim 2 v D Lucas, L le Ber, G Pitschou (Guernsey).
Fours (9.30pm): Preliminary rounds: T Murphy, P Mavity, H Carre, C O'Callaghan (Jersey) v J Branfield, P Branfield, D Mason, J Hick (England); I Brown, J Reid, A McIlaravey, J Lynn (Scoland) v G Collins, W Baker, L le Ber, G Pitschou (Guernsey). Semi finals (2pm): S Colvin, R Kane, B Kane, M McKeeman (Ireland) v winner prelim 2; D Rowlands, M Gaskell, B Fleming, A Fleming (Wales) v Winner prelim 1.
Ireland international team: Rink one: J Millar (Ballymena), DJ Wilson (Dunbarton), B Browne (Whitehead), N Booth (Old Bleach).
Rink two: P Daly (Ulster Transport), J Talbot (Old Bleach), R Horner (Belmont), A Montgomery (NICS).
Rink three: J Murphy (Blackrock), B Kane (Dunluce), B Somers (Blackrock), N Graham (Lisnagarvey).
Rink four: A Paul (Cookstown), D McRandal (Larne), B Thompson (Ulster Transport), J Ross (Lisnagarvey).
Rink five: M McPeak (Belmont), R Leonard (St James's Gate), I McClure (Portrush), C Craig (Balmoral).
Rink six: G Kelly (Ballymoney), S Hall (Old Bleach), M McHugh (Whitehead), G McCloy (Portrush).
Reserves: E Carruth (St James's Gate), R Hastings (Bangor), P Burns (Divis), A Reid (Ballymoney).
Fixtures: Saturday, 9.30am: Ireland v Scotland; England v Wales. 2.15pm: Ireland v England; Wales v Scotland.
Sunday, 9.30am: Ireland v Wales; Scotland v England.