Stephen Gibson, John McCullough and Mike Merritt were crowned AIIB Specsavers National Triples champions for the third successive year at the County Antrim Indoor Bowls Club.
The Belfast boys wrote themselves into the record books with their hat-trick achievement following an epic win over their Watson Stadium colleagues, Paul Prunty, David Corkill and Paul McEwan, in a repeat of last season’s final!
“It’s a tough job winning any title, but to do it three years on the trot is unbelievable,” said McCullough.
“We are obviously thrilled with the success. We played well in the semis against Ian McClure’s Ballybrakes side, but the final could really have gone either way – it was that tight. Thankfully, we managed to hold our nerve to win it.”
It was an extra sweet success for Gibson due to the fact that he was beaten in the final of the national singles by Simon Martin.
The triples champs roared into their third successive final following an impressive 21-11 win over Stephen Falls, Nigel Robinson and McClure, representing the newly named Ballybrakes Community Stadium.
And, the final against McEwan – he enjoyed a runaway 20-5 semi final win over County Antrim’s Stephen Coleman – developed into an intriguging affair, which required an extra-end to separate the teams, with Merritt edging home 17-16.
Meanwhile, Martin got his hands on the singles trophy for the first time.
The Belfast player produced an outstanding performance over the weekend, which culminated in a hard fought 21-15 win over Gibson in the final.
“I had a difficult semi-final tie against Mark McPeak, the reigning champion in the semi final,” he said.
“He certainly didn’t want to let go of his title without a fight.
“Having reached the final, I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass me by. I was determined get win it, although Stephen also played some super stuff.”
It wasn’t a good weekend for McPeak, because he also lost out in the pairs.
He teamed up with Stuart Bennett, but the Belfast boys were beaten by County Antrim’s Trevor Robinson and Andy Kyle. They went on to lift the trophy following a tense 21-20 win over Darren Atkinson and Graham McKee.
Trevor Colvin, Robert Allen, Simon Colvin and Gary McCloy became the first side from the newly named Ballybrakes Community Stadium to pick up an Irish title.
They had to battle right to the wire against County Antrim’s John Nicholl, Rod Coleman, Michael Nutt and Jim Baker, who replaced the injured Brendan Thompson. The Ballymoney boys edged past the finish line by only one shot (15-14).
AIIB Specsavers National Championships results
Singles: JR Nicholl (CAIBC) 19 S Gibson (BIBC) 21. M McPeak (BIBC) 18 S Martin (BIBC) 21. Final: Gibson 15 Martin 21
Junior singles: A Coleman (CAIBC) 21 R Allen (BCIBC) 17. S Colvin (BCIBC) 21 D Atkinson (CAIBC) 15. Final: Coleman 21 Colvin 16.
Pairs: D Atkinson, G McKee (CAIBC) 21 B Thompson, R Coleman (CAIBC) 13. T Robinson, A Kyle (CAIBC) 26 M McPeak, S Bennett (BIBC) 25. Final: McKee 20 Kyle 21.
Triples: S Gibson, J McCullough, M Merritt (BIBC) 21 S Falls, N Robinson, I McClure (BCIBC) 11. A Coleman, A Kyle, S Coleman sen (CAIBC) 5 P Prunty, D Corkill, P McEwan (BIBC) 20. Final: Merritt 17 McEwan 16.
Fours: D Atkinson, S Coleman, A Coleman, S Coleman sen (CAIBC) 18 T Colvin, R Allen, S Colvin, G McCloy (BCIBC) 19. M Bickerstaff, S Gibson, S Hedley, C Craig (BIBC) 14 JR Nicholl, R Coleman, M Nutt, B Thompson (CAIBC) 17. Final: McCloy 15 Thompson 14.
Senior fours: T Green, T Patterson, F Simpson, A Robinson (BIBC) 18 S Moore, M Beattie, S Hegan, S Elliman (BIBC) 19. M Martin, J Kerr, S Ashwood, J Nutt (BIBC) 16 W Gilmore, A Jackson, M McKeown, T Gill (BIBC) 13. Final: Elliman 15 Nutt 10.