Ireland require ‘big improvement’ to boost Home International prospects

Stephen Coleman
Stephen Coleman

Ireland manager Roy McCune insists improvement is required if his team are to break their duck in the Home International Series.

The Irish have just returned home from another disappointing performance at Stanley Indoor Bowls Club, where they suffered defeats by England and Scotland before battling out a draw with Wales in their final match.

It was a display of mixed fortunes in many ways. McCune’s boys matched England for two-thirds of the game before caving in.

And, even though they started well against Scotland, they suffered a lapse in concentration which left them trailing by 20 shots - a deficit that was always going to be difficult to reel in against such a quality side.

Then, in their final match, Ireland looked like they were roaring to their first victory by building up a 32 shots lead, which was eventually whittled away and they ultimately had to settle for a draw.

“I think it’s a mental toughness thing,” said McCune. “Perhaps a psychological thing. When you analyse each game, it was a case of so near, yet so far. We seem to falter in the four hour games.

“Against England, we were right in it for two-thirds of the match. But we suffered one horrendous end in particular in which we lost 18 shots across the green.

“What made it even more frustrating is that we were not playing to our full potential when we were well in the game.

“In the second match, Scotland opened up an 18 or 20 shot lead, which we found it difficult to cut back. They are very much the inform team which was reflected with their big win over England in the final game, which won the them the title.

“But our display against Scotland was off a much better standard. We were then all charged up for the game against Wales, one we thought we were more than capable of winning.

“And for a long period we looked to be on course for victory, having built up a 32-shot lead. We produced some magnificent bowls over the first 11 or 12 ends, but we just failed to finish them off. Fair play to them, the showed great battling qualities to come back an pinch a draw,” he added.

“In many ways there were some encouraging aspects from our performance over the three games, but undoubtedly there are certain areas that we need to work on.”

Even though Gary Kelly’s rink fell to defeat against England’s Gary Smith in the opening match, the Ballybrakes man otherwise had an exceptional Series.

They responded with a resounding 21-11 victory against Scotland’s Derek Oliver before racking up a 26-15 result against Wales’ Derek Kingdon in his final match.

Big Stephen Coleman was Ireland’s only rink winner against the English, beating Greg Harlow 15-14. The County Antrim man then narrowly lost out to Scotland’s Colin Walker (15-13), but bounced back with battling 15-15 draw with Wales’ Mark Harding.

Simon Martin and Ian McClure grabbed their first wins of the tournament against David Harding (20-13) and Nigel Leigh (19-12), which helped Ireland claim third place in the table. Scotland defeated their big rivals England to claim the title.

The International Series will return to Stanley Bowls Club for their third year in 2015.

Results: 2014 Home Internationals

Scotland 119 Wales 91; England 132 Ireland 91; England 135 Wales 83; Scotland 114 Ireland 88; Wales 104 Ireland 104; Scotland 128 England 85.

Final positions: 1 Scotland, shot difference 97, 6pts; 2 England, shot difference 50, 4pts; 3 Ireland, shot difference -67, 1pt; 4 Wales, shot difference -80, 1pt.

Belfast Indoor Bowls Club’s Specsavers Men’s Evening Leagues.

Monday League: J Hinds 12 R Walker 11, J Millar 9 A Roberts 12, A Robinson 15 M Brown 9, P Cromie WO W Meehan 0, J Frazer 12 M Kirkwood 10,JJ Leonard 3 D Millar 15, D Hamilton 11 R Dunbar 11.

Tuesday “A”: J McGettrick 5 M Merritt 18, R Eynon 16 C Campbell 16, D Hamilton 20 B Daly 8, P McVeigh 15 B Hunter 11.

Tuesday “B”: M Irvine 13 M Hedley 4, R Meaklim 6 T White 21, D Watson 20 I McIntyre 5, E Thompson 11 D McCandless 10, D Rankin 11 M Gwynne 16, D Linton 9 A Brown 17, JH Campbell 18 M Simpson 3.

Wednesday: R Simpson 8 M Dunlop 23, A Gray 11 A Fee 9, B Carlisle 10 J Millar 15, I McIntyre 26 W Stevenson 4, W Moran 10 W Thompson6, D Moore 7 S Elliman 18, J Trolan 13 J Marshall 9.

Thursday: T Gill 16 S Malcolmson 6, D Linton 10 D McCandless 17, D McCluskey 15 C Donnelly 14, D Smyth 12 S Elliman 8, A Fee 14 F Simpson 11.

Friday League: W Meehan 13 R McKitterick 10, M Moorehead 13 IMcIntyre 12, J Marshall 7 P Prunty 15, E McCourt 16 D Simpson 11, D Clarke 16 H McFarland 8, D Nelson 11 M Albert 15.

Men’s Saturday League: H Johnston 7 T Roberts 17, W McCullough 16 M Irvine 8, D Simpson 9 A Briggs 12, J Herron 8 G Finlay 9, A Coyle 16 D Burns 16, J McKelvey 11 B Nixon 12, B Kelso 22 A Bailie 15, W Thompson 17 A Robinson 13