TEAM NI: Bowler Neil Booth wants to bow out on a high

NI bowlers
NI bowlers

Northern Ireland’s Neil Booth admits he wants to end his international bowls days on a ‘high’ at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The big Old Bleach man will pull on their famous shirt for the final time in a distinguished career, which has heralded three medals from previous tournaments.

Booth struck gold in the fours when Games were staged in Victoria, Canada, back in 1998, partnering Marty McHugh, Ian McClure and Gary McCloy.

He was at it again four years later in Kuala Lumpur -- this time lifting a fours bronze along with Michael Nutt, Noel Graham and Jim Baker, the current Northern Ireland team boss.

Then in Melboure in 2006, Booth added to array of honours, winning silver in the triples, teaming up with Mark McPeak and Jeremy Henry.

Having missed out an a podium finish in Delhi in 2010 -- Gary Kelly was Northern Ireland only medal winner, pocketing a bronze in the singles -- Booth is determined to out with a big finish after recently announcing his decision to step down from top level action.

“I would love to add to my medal collection,” said Booth, who also has four world championship gongs on his sideboard. “I want to give this my best shot . . . it’s the perfect way to finish playing on the international stage.

“I’ve some great memories. I’ve achieved everything that I wanted, winning gold medals at Irish, British, Commonwealth and World level. I’ve had a fantastic career, playing all over the world.

“Probably the three memories that stand out is winning gold medals at Commonwealth and World level. Also my British Isles singles indoor title in 1999”

Booth will be joined in the Northern Ireland side by Paul Daly, Neil Mulholland, Ian McClure and Marty McHugh -- a group of players capable of gleaning success at Kelvingrove.

McClure and McHugh have already been on the winning rostrum with that fours success in Kuala Lumpur, while the Portrush player also won bronze in the fours back in 1994 in Canada along with Victor Dallas John McCloughlin and Noel Graham.

“There is no doubt that this group of players have it in them to bring back medals,” said Irish boss Jim Baker.

“They displayed all their potential in a Test Series against New Zealand and Wales last weekend.

“It was great preparation,” said Baker. “We were competing against the cream of bowlers form New Zealand and Wales, but we matched them in every department.

“The tournament was played in a similar format that will be used for the Games. Every match was of a high standard. I was delighted with the overall performance of the side. Overall, it was a great work-out and it gave the boys a fair indication of what to expect in Glasgow.”

McHugh has been given the responsibility of competing in the singles at Kelvingrove -- he will be joined by McClure in the pairs.

Daly, Mulholland and Booth will feature in the triples with McClure coming in to play third in the fours.

“Apart from Neil, everyone of the boys have previously enjoyed medal winning performances either at the Commonwealth Games on the World Championships,” added Baker.

“It’s an experienced group, so there is no reason why we can enhance our reputation at these Games. We will travel to Glawgow filled with optimism.”.

Northern Ireland men’s team: Singles: Martin McHugh.

Pairs: McHugh, Ian McClure.

Triples: Paul Daly, Neil Mulholland, Neil Booth.

Fours: Daly, Mulholland, McClure, Booth.

The men will open their campaign on Thursday.