Ireland side confident ahead of World bowls bid
Ireland manager Artie Rice insists his team is oozing confidence ahead of the World Short Mat Bowls Championships that get under way at the National Sports Centre, Cardiff today.
The battling Irish will be defending the triples and fours title, picked up in Ballymoney two years ago.
There is no selection policy for the world championships – the 2012 and 2013 IIBA Champion of Champions winners earn the right to feature at this level.
And Rice believes there is enough talent on show to enhance the country's standing.
"We have past world champions going into action – Kevin Conroy, Paddy Hanlon and Billy Taaffe. They know what is required to win on this stage," he said.
"And there is the likes of Andrew Leckey, Jal Richardson, Alan Paul, Colin Hogg and Joe Beattie, Irish and British winners.
"It's a talented squad – one that is capable of bringing back medals from Wales," commented Rice.
Conroy, who skipped his Oriel rink to world victory in the fours last time out – the competition is a bi-annual event – qualified in both the singles and triples, but the rules state that representatives are allowed to participate in only one discipline.
He opted to feature in the singles which meant that Irish selectors then had to nominate a replacement, with Hanlon, a member of the Oriel side that triumphed in triples back in 2012, getting the nod.
Hanlon will now team up with Taaffe – he was also in action in Ballymoney – and Sean Trainor for the new-look three-day event in Wales.
Singles: John Quinn (Donegal); Kevin Conroy (Oriel).
Pairs: Joe Beattie, Pauline Beattie (Armagh); James Mullan, Lorenzo Graham (North West).
Triples: Billy Taaffe, Sean Trainor, Paddy Hanlon (Oriel); Willie Lennox, Clarke Hill, Alan Paul (Mid Ulster).
Fours: Colin Hogg, Glen Smith, Dayne Jordan, Mark Wilson (Mid Ulster); Gary Culbert, Matthew Crawford, Jal Richardson, Andrew Leckey (Armagh).
Team captain: Colin Hogg.
Team manager: Artie Rice.