Belfast Telegraph

Bowls: Skipper Ian McClure is backing Ireland to strike gold

By David Mason

Ireland skipper Ian McClure believes his team can strike gold in the 2014 Home International Championship at Leamington Spa over the weekend.

The battling Irish were pipped to the title in Dublin last season by an impressive England side that eased over the finishing line with little to spare.

Having finished runners-up twice over the past three years, McClure reckons the boys in green can finish the job this time.

"We lost out to England, but it was only over the last two or three ends that they nudged in front," said McClure, again handed captaincy after taking the armband in Dublin for the first time.

"We've been hitting the post over the past few years. England edged it last season, while Scotland beat us into second place at Sighthill in 2011. Hopefully, this will be our year."

Ireland will have two new faces on show – Ballymoney's Aaron Tennant and Belmont player Stuart Bennett.

The Irish begin their campaign tomorrow morning with the toughest possible fixture – against the title holders.

"They are all difficult games," adds McClure. "But we prepared well and are up for the challenge.

"It will be a real test of character and mental strength, but we can handle that pressure."

Home International programme: Tomorrow morning (9.30am): Ireland v England; Wales v Scotland.

Tomorrow afternoon (2.00pm): Wales v Ireland; England v Scotland.

Sunday morning (9.30am): Scotland v Ireland; Wales v England.

Rink 1: G Kelly (Ballymoney), R Leonard (St. James Gate), G McKee (Bangor), M McHugh (Whitehead).

Rink 2: A Tennant (Ballymoney), N Robinson (Ballymena), S Bennett (Belmont), I McClure (Portrush).

Rink 3: S Shields (Ballymena), DJ Wilson (Dunbarton), B Browne (Whitehead), N Booth (Old Bleach).

Rink 4: S Martin (Bangor), N Graham (Lisnagarvey), M Wilson (Cookstown), G McCloy (Portrush).

Rink 5: P Daly (Belmont), J Talbot (Old Bleach), A Kyle (Ballymena), B Kane (Dunluce).

Rink 6: M McPeak (Belmont), N Mulholland (Lisnagarvey), R Hastings (Bangor), C Craig (Balmoral)

Reserves: S Coleman (Ballymena), S. Leonard (StJames Gate), R Maher (St James Gate), C McCartan (Dunbarton).

Belfast Telegraph

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