BOWLS: New Ireland boss Don McNamara fired up for Short Mat Home Internationals

Raymond Stubbs returns to the line-up for Ireland.
Raymond Stubbs returns to the line-up for Ireland.

New boss Don McNamara is relishing the prospect of leading Ireland into the 2016 Short Mat Home Internationals at Bromsgrove, near Birmingham, in November.

The Spa Golf Club man admits he has a ‘big act to follow’ but is confident the Irish can enhance their already impressive record in the tournament.

Since the inaugural year, back in 1986, Ireland have lost grip of the trophy on only five occasions - the last back in 2011 when England celebrated only their second success.

McNamara takes over the managerial reins from Tom Haire and he is looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s a new venture for me, but I’ll be giving it my best shot,” said McNamara, who is a former member of the bowls section at Spa Golf Club. “I’ve been there for over 30 years, so I’m part of the furniture. We have a good squad which has won many Irish titles down the years.

“But I now have something different on the horizon, managing the Irish team. Tom (Haire) did a good job over the past few years. He was respected, so hopefully I can carry on his good work.”

Ireland will have two new faces on board with Brian Rankin and Aidan Corrigan scheduled to make their debuts.

Rankin, form the United Services Club, has been named at lead for Colm McHugh, while Corrigan is given a similar role in the rink skipped by Raymond Stubbs.

“I know we have a big reputation to follow, but it’s a strong squad and hopefully we can maintain the winning trend,” said McNamara, who is a regular in Sport Mat Players’ Tour events. “We also have a few boys back on board. Mark Wilson, who hadn’t featured in the team for three years, is back, along with Raymond Stubb and Eddie Curran.

“They are all good established and experienced players. We’ll go in as favourites again, but the other nations are improving all the time and are making a real go of it each year. We’ll be ready for the challenge.”

Colm McHugh has been named as captain as he is due to celebrate 25 years’ involvement with the international set-up.

Once again, the ‘A’ Series will be held in tandem with the International team event. They will take place on November 19-20.

Ireland: Rink one: S Hand (Corduff), A Leckey (St Mark,s Portadown), G McCabe (Cooley), K Conroy (Redeemer).

Rink two: B Rankin (Drummond), W Morrison (1st Aghoghill Presbyterian), D McElroy (Cookstown Parochial), C McHugh (Cookstown Parochial).

Rink three: A Corrigan (Carrickmacross), E Curran (Ballylennon), J Quinn (Ballylennon), R Stubbs (Ballinderry).

Rink four: J Beattie (St Mark’s, Portadown), S McSorley (Ardstraw), M Wilson (Cookstown High), A Paul (Cookstown High).

Captain: C McHugh.

British Isles Championships

Singles: C Dillon (St Joseph’s, Poyntzpass) .

Pairs: E Morgan, A Johnston (St Michael’s, Dundrum)..

Triples: P Reid, G Stubb, R Stubbs (Ballinderry).

Fours: T Morrison, W Morrison, A Morrison, D Morrison (1st Aghoghill).

Ireland ‘A’ team: Rink one: M McCullough (Killymurris), L Douglas (St Mark’s, Portadown), J Richardson (St Mark’s, Portadown), M Sproule (Cranagill).

Rink two: C Middleton (Crosshaven), N Haire (Hillsborough Social), S McMahon (Carrickmacross), S Trainor (Redeemer).

Rink three: E Forster (Western), W Boggs (Ardstraw), T Crawford (St Anthony’s, Craigavon), R Stubbs (Maguiresbridge).

Rink four: A Rankin (Drummond), F McDermott (Largy), M Trainor (Monaghan), N Rutledge (Sixmilecross).

Captain: M Sproule.

Individual Championships

Singles: M McNicholl (St Candice).

Pairs, S Kennedy, G Kennedy (Deramore).

Triples: A McKeown, R McKeown, P McKeown (Mossley). Fours: G Moore, T Patton, PJ McCrossan, M Beattie (Strabane CC).