Belfast Telegraph

Artie Rice lauds Irish after retaining British crown

By David Mason

Ireland boss Artie Rice saluted his team after retaining the British Isles Short Mat Championship at Coleraine Leisure Centre over the weekend.

The Irish enhanced their proud record in this tournament by roaring to impressive wins over England, Scotland and Wales to clock up their 23rd title success since the inaugural year back in 1986.

"It was a superb effort by everyone," said Rice. "The other nations have been making steady progress in recent years – that was reflected in England's success two years ago.

"But we really stamped our authority on the tournament on this occasion. We got off to a great start against England and that generated a lot of confidence.

"It is always good to get your hands on the trophy, but doing in front of home supporters makes that extra bit special."

The Irish sent out an early warning of intent with a runaway 57-44 win over the English. They then wiped away Scotland in emphatic fashion, chalking up a massive 88-30 success, before finishing in style against the Welsh in their final match – Rice's troops enjoyed a 54-32 victory.

Just to top off a splendid weekend's work, the Irish also paraded the triples and fours championships in the individual events.

But there was disappointment for Raymond Stubbs, who managed to finish in only third place in the singles, while Davy Coulter and Stephen McKinley failed to deliver in the pairs – they also had to settle for third spot.

David Crawford, Eddie Curran and John Quinn triumphed in the triples, the first Donegal side to win a British title. They finished the two-day Series with an unblemished record. The Ballylennon boys beat Scotland 17-9 in their opening fixture before seeing off Wales (17-8) and then Glen Stanway's England (13-11).

And, it was glory all the way for Sammy McMath, Tommy Mullan, Barry Kane and Uel McKeeman in the fours – they also finished unbeaten.

The Northern zone rink began with a swagger, beating Scotland 13-5. They maintained that form against Wales (11-7), before guaranteeing Ireland their second success with a 16-7 win over England.

Results of the Team championship: Ireland 57 England 44; Wales 61 Scotland 27; Ireland 88 Scotland 30; England 54 Wales 36; Ireland 54 Wales 32; England 55 Scotland 31.

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