Belfast Telegraph

Johnston ready to roll back years on her big return

 

By Alex Mills

Margaret Johnston is back on the British Isles bowls stage - 10 years after retiring from international action.

The popular Bellaghy woman, who remains her country's most decorated player, will attempt to resurrect her glory days when she features in the semi-final of the British Isles Fours Championship at Belmont.

Johnston, a six-time world outdoor champion and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, teams up with her Ballymoney colleagues Megan Morrow, Mandy Tennant and Barbara Logue for a showdown with the Welsh rink, skippered by Anwen Butten.

"It will be like turning back the clock," said Johnston, who was capped over 100 times by her country and was voted the BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year back in 2004.

"I'm looking forward to competing at this level again - it's been over 10 years since I decided to call time on my international commitments.

"There's been a lot of changes during that time - there are a lot of younger girls competing in all four home countries now.

"It will be a test, but it's one I'm looking forward to," added Johnston, who received an MBE in 1991 for her services to sport.

Even though she played at the top for close to three decades, Johnston, never one to mince her words during her playing days - she had several brushes with officialdom - always ruled out any prospect of taking on a coaching role when her glittering career came to an end.

"It was time to hand over the mantle - I did my bit," she added.

"Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the sport and was fortunate enough to travel the world, I was determined to make a clean break.

"I would dearly love to win this fours title.

"Believe it or not, it's the only medal I don't have."

Alicia Weir will carry the flag for Ireland in the singles, coming up against Jersey's Jean Holmes in her opening match of the tournament.

Jean Lyden and Ann Sloan are due to face Sandra Steven and Kirsteen McLelland in the pairs, while Carole McQuade, Ann Gillian-Murphy and Christine O'Gorman go in against Jene Mayo, Jean Holmes and Yvonne Andrew of Jersey in the triples.

Ireland will be represented by Patricia Ross, Wilma Adair, Sharon Jess and Sandra Bailie in the Senior Fours.

They will come up against the Welsh rink skippered by the experienced Betty Morgan in the semi-finals.

Ireland British Isles representatives: Singles: Alicia Weir. Pairs: J Lyden, Ann Sloan. Triples: Carole McQuade, Ann Gillian-Murphy, Christine O'Gorman. Fours: Megan Morrow, Mandy Tennant, Barbara Logue, Margaret Johnston. Senior Fours: Patricia Ross, Wilma Adair, Sharon Jess, Sandra Bailie.

Belfast Telegraph

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