Booth proud as brave Irish just miss out on glory
Ireland finished their Home International Bowls challenge in a blaze of glory, but it still wasn't enough to land them the title they craved.
Neil Booth's team produced their best performance of the two-day event, hosted at Belmont, by walloping Wales by 48 shots - with all six Irish skips returning winning cards.
However, as expected, it was England who racked up a hat-trick of Championship victories as they defeated Scotland, although the boys in blue made a decent fist of it as they were only beaten by a mere six shots.
The Irish, who haven't won the trophy since 2009, got their campaign off to a great start on Saturday with an impressive 21-shot win over Scotland. And even though they battled right to the wire in their second outing, they narrowly lost out to England, which ultimately proved to be a title decider.
Even though the odds were stacked against the home side, they went for the jugular right from the off and it paid a handsome dividend.
"I'm really proud of the boys," beamed Booth. "We knew we had a job to do against Wales, although the odds were stacked against us in terms of winning the title as England were big favourites to record their third win against the Scots.
"But I couldn't have asked for any more from them. Although we finished runners-up, it was a hugely successful campaign. There were many positives to take over the two days and it certainly augurs well for the future."
Andy Kyle's rink of Gareth Pierpoint, DJ Wilson and Simon Martin had a magnificent two days and it was fitting they ended on a high with a jaw-dropping 30-6 win over the combination skipped by Marc Wyatt.
But there were no failures in this Irish performance. Ian McClure was also in outstanding form, beating Paul Taylor 21-11, while big Stephen Coleman may have lost a count of eight on the sixth end but it didn't stop him claiming a 23-16 victory.
Gary Kelly, Martin McHugh and Graham McKee finished the job with wins against Robert Weale (22-17), David Kingdon (20-16) and Steve Harris (19-18).
Home International Series: Wales 112 England 120 (R Weale 25 J Walker 20,
M Wyatt 28 S Farish 17, J Tomlinson 18 S Tolchard 21, S Harris 10 D Bolt 23, P Taylor 15 R Paxton 19, D Kingdon 16 J Chestney 20).
Scotland 91 Ireland 112 (R Grant 15 G Kelly 18, C Walker 10 A Kyle 20, I McLean 19 S Coleman 18, G Logan 21 G McKee 13, N Spiers 15 I McClure 21, T Mann 11 M McHugh 21).
Wales 136 Scotland 91 (P Taylor 17 N Spiers 23, D Kingdon 19 T Mann 18, R Weale 21 R Grant 14, M Wyatt 32 C Walker 7, J Tomlinson 28 I McLean 9, S Harris 19 G Logan 20).
Ireland 109 England 121 (I McClure 23 R Paxton 18, M McHugh 11 J Chestney 25, G Kelly 16 J Walker 27, A Kyle 22 S Farish 11, S Coleman 17 S Tolchard 16, G McKee 20 D Bolt 24).
Wales 87 Ireland 135 (J Tomlinson 16 S Coleman 23, S Harris 18 G McKee 19, P Taylor 11 I McClure 21, D Kingdon 19 M McHugh 20, R Weale 17 G Kelly 22, M Wyatt 6 A Kyle 30).
England 122 Scotland 116 (S Tolchard 23 I McLean 18, D Bolt 19 G Logan 22, R Paxton 18 N Spiers 18, J Chestney 25 T Mann 14, J Walker 24 R Grant 16, S Farish 13 C Walker 28).
Final placings: 1 England 6pts; 2 Ireland 4pts; 3 Wales 2pts; 4 Scotland 0pts.
Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Mossley 65 (0) Dunbarton 108 (7), Pickie 111 (6) Ballywalter 66 (1), Old Bleach 63 (1) Falls 76 (6).
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Bangor 98 (6) Divis 66 (1), Portadown 87 (5) Banbrige 85 (2).