Ireland boss Roy McCune insists his ‘young guns’ can handle the pressure in the in the British Isles Indoor Home Internationals, staged at Stanley Bowls club in from March 12-14.
The Irish selectors made a number of significant changes to the side, handing debuts to Andy Duncan and Scott Jess and naming Barry Kane as skip for the first time.
Both Duncan and Jess turned in impressive outings and scored heavily in a series of trial games, which prompted selection panel to act.
Robert Allen received a recall, while another youngster, Darren Atkinson, has also been brought back in the form of reserve.
“The team’s age average has dropped quite considerably as the selectors’ emphasis is now on giving younger players an opportunity at this level,” said McCune.
“Jess, Duncan, Atkinson, Allen have all come through the youth system and they now join the likes of Alastair Coleman and Gary Kelly in the senior team. We finished third in the international series last season and we are still looking for our first title success.
“But I firmly believe the way forward is to blood these young lads who have done particularly well at Under-18 and Under-25 level. It’s a learning curve, but I’ve no doubt they can give a good account of themselves in an international environment that will pitch them in against some of the world’s top players.”
The other major change to the team is the fact that Barry Kane has been handed the responsibility of skip for the first time. He will have Duncan at third, with Alastair Kennedy and Allen forming the front end of the rink.
Jess will play lead for Andy Kyle, who has Stuart Bennett and Neil Mulholland, Northern Ireland’s silver medal winner at the Commonwealth Games, at second and third.
“Obviously, it’s always a difficult ask competing against the Scots and English, who have a multitude of players to choose from.”
“But we have enough ability in this squad to give a good account of ourselves.”
Rink one: P Prunty (BIBC), S Gibson (BIBC), G McKee (CAIBC), S Martin (BIBC).
Rink two: S Jess (BIBC), S Bennett (BIBC), N Mulholland (BIBC), A Kyle (CAIBC).
Rink three: A Kennedy (BCIBC), R Allen (BCIBC), A Duncan (CAIBC), B Kane (BCIBC).
Rink four: M McPeak (BIBC), S Falls (BCIBC), D Smith (BCIBC), I McClure (BCIBC).
Rink five: C Eadie (BIBC), P McEwan (BIBC), D Corkill (BIBC), G Kelly (BCIBC).
Rink six: JR Nicholl (CAIBC), A Coleman (CAIBC), J McCullough (BIBC), S Coleman (CAIBC).
Reserves: D Atkinson (BIBC), M Merritt (BIBC).