Belfast Telegraph

McClure's men edge out Scots to end a decade of hurt


Ian McClure
Ian McClure

By Alex Mills

Ireland skipper Ian McClure danced a jig of delight after his team ended a decade of hurt by winning the Home International Bowls Championships at Ayr Northfield.

Following epic victories against Wales and England 24 hours earlier, the gutsy Irish went head-to-head with Scotland in a winner takes all confrontation.

And, the battle of the giants certainly lived up to its pre-match billing. After 126 gruelling ends - and Scotland lying shot, but requiring another to draw the game which would have earned them the title - it was settled with the final bowl of the Series when Darren Burnett's delivery slipped through the head which sparked scenes of mass hysteria among the Irish squad.

"What a game and what a win," sighed an exhausted McClure. "It may have taken us 10 years to get our hands on the trophy again, but this was worth the wait.

"I have to pay tribute to our manager Neil Booth and the entire squad - everyone played such an important part in the victory."

The celebrations could go on for some time because this was an achievement to savour.

Having defeated Wales with a bit to spare in the opening game - the Irish won on all six rinks - they came up against a wounded England, who had lost heavily against their fierce rivals Scotland in their first match.

When questions of asked of Ireland's tenacity, passion, commitment and skill ahead of their final outing, they provided the answers in abundance.

Gary Kelly's rink of Aaron Tennant, Neil Mulholland and Stuart Bennett deserve an extra glass of champagne after beating the combination skipped by Paul Foster 30-16.

Stephen Millane and Marty McHugh chipped in with wins against Derek Oliver and Iain McLean. But the pressure was on McClure - the only rink left on the green. He approached the final end with a four-shots lead (20-16) over Burnett. The big Scot was lying one shot and, attempted to draw a second with his final delivery - the Scots had a superior shot difference - but the Irish celebrations said it all as they watched the bowl slip past the target.

Scotland 126 Ireland 127: D Oliver 20 S Millane 22, G Logan 33 M Wilson 17, D Burnett 17 I McClure 20, I McLean 15 M McHugh 23, P Foster 16 G Kelly 30, A Marshall 25 A Kyle 15.

England 101 Wales 120: D Bolt 16 S Harris 24, J Walker 21 P Taylor 27, P Martin 11 R Owen 18, T Morton 16 C Klefenz 22, N Brett 16 D Salmon 11, L Ridout 21 J Tomlinson 10

Scotland 151 England 92: P Foster 22 S Tolchard 20, A Marshall 29 L Ridout 9, D Oliver 28 D Bolt 17, G Logan 19 J Walker 11, D Burnett 24 R Paxton 16, K McLean 29 T Morton 19.

Ireland 137 Wales 99: G Kelly 18 D Salmon 17, A Kyle 23 J Tomlinson 12, S Millane 27 S Harris 16, M Wilson 23 P Taylor 22, I McClure 21 R Owen 20, M McHugh 25 D Doubler 12.

Scotland 148 Wales 95: D Burnett 25 R Owen 22, I McLean 26 D Doubler 14, P Foster 23 D Salmon 16, A Marshall 18 J Tomlinson 18, D Oliver 33 S Harris 9, G Logan 23 P Taylor 16.

England 122 Ireland 133: R Paxton 13 I McClure 27, T Morton 17 M McHugh 14, S Tolchard 25 G Kelly 20, L Ridout 17 A Kyle 24, D Bolt 26 S Millane 17, J Walker 14 M Wilson 31.

Final positions: 1 Ireland 6pts, 2 Scotland 4pts, 3 Wales 3pts 4, England 0 points.

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