BOWLS: Sorry Irish end up with wooden spoon after final day collapse at 2014 Home International Championship

A player celebtrates during the game between Belmont and CSNI at Belmont Park at the weekend
A player celebtrates during the game between Belmont and CSNI at Belmont Park at the weekend

Ireland reserved the worst performance for the final day of the 2014 Home International Championship at Leamington Spa.

Even though they lost their opening two games against England and Wales, the Irish boys produced battling displays that just failed to get them over the finish line in both games.

They were beaten by 17 shots in their opener, but went down by only five against the Welsh in a game that could have gone either way.

Sadly, all their good work was undone in their final match against Scotland, who were ultimately crowned champions after two days of action. Even without all their Commonwealth Games representatives, the Scots were simply too hot to handle as they thrashed the Irish, winning by over 40 shots!

“It was a bad day at the office,” admitted Irish boss Jim Baker. “We looked like an entirely different team from the one that faced England and Wales.

“Although we lost to both matches Saturday, I really couldn’t fault the boys because they displayed great battling qualities and fought right to the end.We were particularly unfortunate to lose against the Welsh. In fact, it was a heavy defeat consumed by one rink that did the damage against England and Wales.

“But there were no excuses for the display against Scotland. We shipped a total of 31 shots across the green over three ends early on, conceding 10, 12 and a nine and managing to pick up only four.

“It certainly was a disappointing end to a tournament that promised to so much.”

In spite of the final day gloom, there were some encouraging aspects, particularly in the opening two matches.

Team captain Ian McClure, who is a member of Ireland Commonwealth Games squad, produced a wonderful performance, finishing the Series with an unbeaten record.

The Portrush man had two international debutants in his rink – Ballymoney’s Aaron Tennant and Belmont’s Stuart Bennett and they both produced a superb performance over the two days.

McClure, who had Nigel Robinson at third, racked up wins over England’s Stephen Farish, Jason Greenslade (Wales) and finished the job with another eye-catching result against Scotland’s Thomas Mann.Sadly, it was Ba rry Kane’s rink of Conor McCartan, James Talbot and Andy Kyle that perished on the opening day.

They lost out 25-8 against the English combination skipped by Stuartt Airey, and then Welsh ace Marc Wyatt piled on the again in the second match, roaring to a breathtaking 32-8 victory.

Irish selectors decided to reshape the rink for the final game. It made no difference because the rink again crashed to a 33-14 defeat to Colin Walker. Incredibly, Ireland finished ‘up’ on four rinks against Wales, courtesy of Neil Booth, McClure, Cifford Craig and Marty McHugh, but it still wasn’t enough to warrant the overall win.

Results: 2014 Home International ChampionshipIreland 98 England 115 (N Booth 25 S Farish 20, B Kane 8 S Airey 25, M McHugh 15 R Catton 18, I McClure 26 S Tolchard 11, G McCloy 14 R Newman 18, C Craig 10 J Chestney 23).Wales 107 Scotland 117 (J Tomlinson 20 I McLean 19, M Wyatt 22 C Walker 18, R Weale 22 G Logan 22, J Greenslade 14 T Mann 21, S Harris 19 J Meikle 14, W Thomas 10 D Oliver 23.Wales 104 Ireland 99 (S Harris 20 G McCloy 13, W Thomas 9 C Craig 23, J Tomlinson 19 N Booth 23, M Watt 32 B Kane 8, R Weale 14 M McHugh 16, J Greenslade 10 I McClure 16). England 103 Scotland 134 (R Newman 21 J Meikle 20, J Chestney 18 D Oliver 20, S Farish 13 I McLean 18 S Airey 15 C Walker 23, R Catton 19 G Logan 28, S Tolchard 17 T Mann 25).Scotland 142 Ireland 98 (G Logan 17 M McHugh 15, T Mann 18 I McClure 19, J Meikle 27 G McCloy 15, D Oliver 26 C Craig 9, I McLean 21 N Booth 17, C Walker 33 A Kyle 14). Wales 112 England 114 (R Weale 19 R Catton 16, J Greenslade 18 S Tolchard 26, S Harris 12 R Newman 16, W Thomas 21 J Chestney 19, J Tomlinson 18 S Farish 19, M Wyatt 24 S Airey 18).

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