Kelly whizzes back from Oz in bold bid for British Isles gold
Gary Kelly is hoping to add to his impressive CV in the British Isles Bowls Championships that get under way at Ayr Northfield this morning.
The 30-year-old Ballymoney man is home on a flying visit from Australia, where he is taking a year out, but is hoping to make it count by picking up his fifth British gold medal.
He was on the winners' podium along with Aaron Tennant to parade the pairs trophy at Leamington Spa last season, however this time he is focusing on the fours discipline, along with Tennant, James Martin and Bryan Smyth.
The Ballymoney rink have managed to avoid the preliminary round and await the winners of the Scotland versus Wales tie.
"I was thrilled to be back in Ballymoney colours for Saturday's Irish Cup victory over Portadown," said Kelly.
"But after the British Isles Championships and the Home Internationals, I'll be heading off to Australia again.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge over the next few days. When Aaron and I won the pairs last season, it was my fourth British title, which I'm proud of.
"This will be another big test, whether it's against James Hogg (Scotland) or Chris Klefenz (Wales)."
Kelly has now racked up a staggering 20 Irish titles, incorporating shortmat, stadium and outdoor bowls. He has won every Irish title, with the exception of the outdoor triples.
Meanwhile, Stephen Coleman will make his maiden British Isles singles appearance, coming up against Jersey's Ross Davis in today's preliminary round.
Terry Crawford and Gary Eaton will be hoping to help the Irish retain the pairs crown, won by Tennant and Kelly, but face a difficult preliminary opener against England's Neil Williams and Sam Steele.
Kelly's Ballymoney colleagues Alistair Steele, Addy Davison and Willie McCaw will feature in the triples against the English side, skipped by Chris Gale, while the Lurgan rink of Peter Dew, Ian Ferguson, Alan Briggs and Alan Roberts have the job of retaining the senior fours title, won so impressively by the Cookstown combination skipped by Colin Hogg 12 months ago.
The Irish side begin their challenge in a prelim outing against the Guernsey rinks skipped by Nigel Collins.
Today: Singles: Preliminary round: S Coleman (Ireland) v R Davis (Jersey).
Under-18 singles: Semi-final: C O'Brien (Ireland) v E Hughes (Wales).
Under-25 singles: Semi-final: C Gaw (Ireland) v winner of R Lenza (Scotland)/K Crocker (Wales).
Pairs: Preliminary round: T Crawford, G Eaton (Ireland) v N Williams, S Steel (England).
Triples: Preliminary round: A Steele, A Davison, W McCaw (Ireland) v D Lockhart, I Mayne, C Gale (England).
Fours: Semi-final: A Tennant, J Martin, B Smyth, G Kelly (Ireland) v winner of Scotland (J Hogg)/Wales (C Klefenz).
Senior fours: Preliminary round: P Dew, Ian Ferguson, A Briggs, A Roberts (Ireland) v K De La Mare, D Ogier, J Rihoy, N Collins (Guernsey).