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Megan Devlin and Shauna O’Neill cite special bond in pursuit of gold in women's bowls pairs

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Northern Ireland bowlers Megan Devlin and Shauna O'Neill are through to the women's pairs Quarter-Finals

Northern Ireland bowlers Megan Devlin and Shauna O'Neill are through to the women's pairs Quarter-Finals

Northern Ireland bowlers Megan Devlin and Shauna O'Neill are through to the women's pairs Quarter-Finals

Sacrifice and suffering are the norm for athletes who have done enough to make it to the Commonwealth Games, but it is particularly pertinent for lawn bowler Megan Devlin who will miss her son’s first birthday for a chance at a medal.

The Ballymena bowler qualified for the Quarter-Finals of the women’s pairs alongside Limavady’s Shauna O’Neill, despite a narrow 17-16 defeat to Fiji on Wednesday.

The pair knew they had already done enough thanks to their earlier 18-12 win against Scotland but admitted they still had half an eye on the Scots’ contest with England to confirm their progression on points difference.

And with the group stage ticked off, Devlin has all eyes on going for gold.

“It would mean everything,” said Devlin. “I’d love to bring home a gold medal.

“My son turns one on Sunday and I’ll miss his first birthday, so a gold medal is the goal.”

The pair had been dominating their Fijian foes, establishing a 10-1 lead only to drop five shots on the ninth end and see their lead quickly evaporate.

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The Fijian duo of Losalini Tukai and Litia Tikoisuva edged the final end by a shot to steal victory, but O’Neill admits they knew they were still okay to get out of their group.

“As long as we didn’t lose by seven, we were in the Quarter-Final,” she reflected. O’Neill also competed in the women’s singles on her Commonwealth Games debut.

“We were in complete control of the game, then they came back at us, so we had to keep a wee eye on the Scotland game and it was just about management from then on.”

While Devlin may be missing a milestone moment in her son’s life, she is hoping to make one for herself in Leamington Spa alongside close friend O’Neill.

Indeed, it is almost a family affair for the duo, who go back a long way and spend time together on and off the green.

“We’ve come through the under-25s together and we haven’t really looked back from there,” said O’Neill.

“We play indoor a lot together and I play a lot with her family. They’ve kind of adopted me so to do this with Megan is really special.”

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