Belfast Telegraph

Veteran bowlers in final glory bid

Commonwealth Games: Cameron's chance to end long wait

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland bowls player Barbara Cameron woke up this morning hoping that her dream would finally come true.

The 52-year-old is at her fifth Commonwealth Games. She competed in Victoria 1994, Kuala Lumpur 1998, Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006 but, try as she might, Barbara could not bring home a medal.

This morning in Glasgow, along with Pairs partner Mandy Cunningham, she was set to take on Jersey girls Katie Nixon and Lindsey Greechan in a bronze medal match play-off due to begin at 8.45am.

The Ulster women could have been playing for gold, but yesterday lost 19-14 to young English pair Jamie-Lea Winch and Natalie Melmore.

Entering today's match, both Barbara and Mandy acknowledged they would have to perform better to have a special memento hanging around their necks tonight.

The earlier performance they put up in a stunning 14-10 quarter-final victory over the fancied New Zealand combination of Val Smith and Jo Edwards would do.

Edwards was searching for a possible golden double after winning the women's singles, but the Northern Ireland pair had other ideas mounting a brilliant comeback after trailing 10-6 with 12 ends gone.

In the remaining six ends at Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Club, Cameron and Cunningham claimed eight shots to clinch a memorable success.

Another performance like that and Ballymena Bowling Club member Cameron will have ended her 20-year wait for a medal.

"This is my fifth Games now and it would be a dream come true to make it to the podium," said Barbara.

"The Commonwealth to me would be the medal to win. The standard here is world class. All the top teams from around the world are here, so if you get a medal you know you have really earned it."

Talking about today's opponents, Mandy (50), from the Ewarts Club in Belfast, said: "We play against Jersey every year in the Home International Series, so we know them well and they will be up for the match as much as us. We will need to play our best game to come out on top. You can't underestimate any team in this competition."

Success for our Women's Pairs would double the Team NI bowling squad's medal tally after Paul Daly, Neil Mulholland and Neil Booth won the Men's Triples.

Cunningham added: "The boys won silver. They will have the bragging rights if we don't take home something."

Barbara and Mandy will be last bowlers to represent Northern Ireland in Glasgow after yesterday's heart-breaking quarter-final defeat for Martin McHugh in the men's singles and a tough-to-take loss for Daly, Mulholland, Ian McClure and Booth in the fours.

Big Whitehead man McHugh will be kicking himself for letting a great opportunity slip from his grasp as he led Scotland ace Darren Burnett –- the current world indoor singles title holder – 20-16 at 23 ends.

At that stage the Dundee native, roared on by the home fans, had the odds stacked against him, but he found a way to triumph clocking up a single, a two and another two singles to edge over the finish line 21-20 after 27 tough ends.

Not surprisingly McHugh was hugely disappointed.

"It was cruel way to lose," said Northern Ireland boss Jim Baker.

"It just wasn't Marty's tournament. The same thing happened to him and Ian McClure in the pairs last week with England's Andrew Knapper and Sam Tolchard stealing the win right at the finish."

Booth, playing his last event at international level, would loved to have gone further in the fours with Daly, Mulholland and McClure, but lost out 18-11 in the last eight to the English quartet of John McGuinness, Andrew Knapper, Stuart Airey and Jamie Chestney, whom they had drawn 12-12 with in the group stages the previous day.

Early on it looked as though England would walk away with the game, leading 8-1 after six ends, but the Ulster four fought back superbly and with just three of the 15 ends left had moved 11-9 ahead.

The next end proved to the unlucky 13th for Northern Ireland, who amazingly dropped a count of seven that took England 16-11 in front. There was no way back from that with the English four taking two singles in the final ends.

Belfast Telegraph


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