Ian McClure’s involvement in the Commonwealth Games has disrupted the Provincial Championships that get under way at Portglenone Bowls Club on Friday.
With the Portrush man battling it out in Glasgow with the Northern Ireland fours team, it means the semi final of the Provincial singles, pairs and fours have been shelved until his return next week.
The Ireland international will go into action on Tuesday in the fours, skipping his rink against the current title holders, Colin Mabon’s Letterkenny combination.
McClure will then face Dunluce’s Uel McKeeman the following night in the singles semi final. And, 24 hours later, he’ll team up with Gary McCloy for a pairs showdown against Alistair Steele and Willie McCaw from Ballymoney.
But the spotlight on Friday turns to Gary Kelly, who will defend his Under-25 singles title, facing Coleraine’s Mark Mason.
The Ballymoney man went on to complete the set last season, adding the Irish and British Isles trophies to his Provincial championships.
“I was thrilled to lift all three championships,” said Kelly. “Even though I only won the British title last month, it’s now all in the past. I must focus on the semi final and the defence of my Provincial title
“I cannot afford to look any further than that. Everyone is at this stage on merit, every game will be a battle.”
Meanwhile, the Dunluce brothers, Rodney and Barry Kane, are on a double mission, featuring in the pairs and triples.
Rodney is a past winner, having picked up the title along with Mervyn McKeeman back in 2004.
The Kanes face a tough opener against Ballymoney’s Nicky McCaw and Brian McAlary.
Rodney and Barry are then joined by Mervyn Keeman in the triples – a slight alteration to the side that lifted the crown 12 months ago.
On that occasion Bryan Smyth partnered the Dunluce duo, so it means there is a little bit off added pressure heaped on them in this occasion.
They come up against Colin Hogg’s Cookstown triple tomorrow.
But McKeeman will also be looking to secure a date in the singles final against either his brother Uel or McClure. He must fend off the challenge of Coleraine’s David Gaille to get that opportunity.
Nigel Beggs squeezed into the final of the NIBA Championships at Carrickfergus in midweek.
The Whitehead man had to withstand an almighty challenge from Thomas Cannavan, of Bangor, who was agonisingly beaten 21-20.
Beggs now awaits the winner of the Neil Mulholland (Lisnagarvey) versus Matt Stevenson (Castle) clash. Like McClure, Mulholland is on Northern Ireland duty in Glasgow.
Provincial Championships – Friday
Junior singles: M Mason (Coleraine) v G Kelly (Ballymoney). D O’Kane (Letterkenny) v A Tennant (Ballymoney).
Youth singles: S Martin (Ballymoney) v R Hutchinson (Castlerock). A Clyde (Dunce) v C Harris (Portstewart).
Pairs: R Kane, B Kane (Dunluce) v N McCaw, B McAlary (Ballymoney).
Triples: J Shepherd, M Wilson, C Hogg (Cookstown) v R Kane, M McKeeman, B Kane (Dunluce). C Brogan, J Martin, G Kelly (Ballymoney) v E Sands, L McHugh, D McElroy (Cookstown).
Senior fours: S Walker, H Paul, T Smith, W McCaw (Ballymoney) v J Duncan, L Brennan, J O’Neill, B Kennedy (Coleraine). R Calvin, J Morrison, P Pentland, D Culbertson (Dunluce) v O Caulfield, G Kerr, V Callaghan, J Hutchinson (Castlerock).
Fours: B Hughes, C Brogan, B McAlary, N McCaw (Ballymoney) v C McKnight, T McAleavey, G Scott, E Sands (Cookstown).
Singles: D Gaille (Coleraine) v M McKeeman (Dunluce).
Tuesday, August 5: Fours: A Calvin, P Kennedy, D Smith, I McClure (Portrush) v T Moore, M White, M Ryan, C Mabon (Letterkenny).
Wednesday, August 6: Singles: U McKeeman (Dunluce) v I McClure (Portrush).
Thursday, August 7: Pairs: G McCloy, I McClure v A Steele, W McCaw (Ballymoney).
NIBA Championships – results
Under-25 singles: M Albert (Balmoral) 13 J Montgomery (Whitehead) 21.
Singles: T Cannavan (Bangor) 20 N Beggs (Whitehead) 21.
Youth singles: J Brown (Balmoral) 10 D Bodels (Carrick) 21.
Triples: G Clarke, G Scott, M Shannon (Bangor) 16 T Murdock, R Hobson, T Moffett (Portadown) 14.
Fours: R McCullough, D McCavrey, J Gilliland, RM Montgomery (Lurgan) 17 S Jess, M Nelson, P Cromie, N Graham (Lisnagarvey) 26.
Senior fours: F Dolan, G McQuid, G Paul, J McKeown (Bessbrook) 10 U O’Neill, S Mullen, H McHugh, B Connor (Whitehead) 23