Catherine Beattie struck gold in the women’s singles on the final day of the Atlantic Bowls Championships, staged at the Athena Beach Hotel in Cyprus.
It was the climax to a fantastic two weeks for Ireland representatives, with the men and women’s team returning home with a stash of medals from one of the world’s top tournaments.
Beattie also wrote her name into the history books by becoming the first player to retain the women’s singles title.
The medal assault began last week with Ian McClure and Gary Kelly winning gold in the men’s pairs following an epic victory (18-12) over the current world indoor and outdoor champions Alex Marshall and Paul Foster from Scotland.
Aaron Tennant, Neil Mulholland and Marty McHugh also finished on the podium, having won a bronze medal in the men’s triples.
They agonisingly lost out (15-14) against Scotland’s Stewart Anderson, Darren Burnett and Neil Spiers, after a tie end! The Scots went on to defeat Wales in the final.
Not to be outdone, Ireland’s ladies turned on a wonderful performance to strike gold in the triples, courtesy of Erin Smith, Bernie O’Neill and Sandra Bailie.
They held their nerve to defeat Scotland’s Lorraine Malloy, Stacey McDougall and Lorna Smith 16-15 after an extra end in the semi finals before turning in a sensational display to beat England’s Jamie-Lea Winch, Sophie Tolchard and Ellen Falkner (19-13), who were hot favourites to lift the trophy.
And, it just kept getting better for the Irish as the tournament progressed.
Beattie stormed the group stage to book a slot in the knockout phase of the ladies singles. She defeated Guernsey’s Lucy Beere 21-13 in the semi finals, before roaring to an incredible 21-10 win over Saskia Schaft, from the Netherlands in the final.
“I’m still speechless,” admitted Beattie, whose victory was made even more remarkable due to the fact that Schafted defeated hot favourite and England international Sophie Tolchard in the semis.
“To win this title is a fantastic achievement. To win it twice is a dream. It’s quite unbelievable. It’s been a great week for the team in general.
“We’ll be returning home with loads of medals from one of the world’s top tournaments which will help the country’s reputation.”
Tennant, Mulholland and McHugh were also back for a final day medal ceremony. Joined by McClure, they won bronze in the men’s fours following a tense 16-14 semi final defeat by Jersey, who went on to lift the title.
Kelly followed up his pairs medal success with by taking bronze in the men’s singles. He was beaten in the semi final (21-13) by Darren Burnett, but the Scot duly lost to England’s Jamie Ward (21-15) in the final.
* There will be a new name on the AIIB Under-25 National singles trophy next month!
And, it will be a Belfast versus County Antrim battle when the semi finals take place at the Baker Stadium on January 15.
Following the weekend action at the Watson Stadium, Sam Barkley emerged unscathed and will now face his Parkgate team mate Simon Beggs in one of the semi final ties.
The other will feature Belfast duo Scot Jess and Simon Kirkwood. Roy McCune’s rink of Rod Coleman, Freddie Anderson and James Caldwell are only two games away from retaining their AIIB Senior Fours title.
The County Antrim combination will face Belfast’s Seamus Elliman in the last four, while Belfast’s David Hamilton will go head to head with County Antrim’s Graham Hall.
Meanwhile, Belfast have regained the AIIB Inter-Club Championship following a runaway 85-29 win against Ballybrakes Community Indoor Bowls Club at the Watson Stadium. The home team top the table, after rink wins from Clifford Craig, Mike Merritt, Simon Martin and Stuart Bennett.
AIIB Junior singles: S Barkley (CAIBC) w/o C Prunty (BIBC); S Millar (BCIBC) 19 S Martin (BCIBC) 21; A Coleman (CAIB) 13 S Beggs (CAIBC) 21; M Albert (BIBC) 15 J Watson (BIBC) 21; R Millar (BIBC) 19 S Vance (BIBC) 21; JP Fahy (BCIBC) 12 S Jess (BIBC) 21; S Kirkwood (BIBC) 21 J Millar (BCIBC) 21; D Atkinson (BIBC) 21 S Coleman (CAIBC) 16.
Quarter final: S Barkley 21 S Martin 21; S Beggs 21 J Watson 20; S Vance 6 S Jess 21; S Kirkwood 21 D Atkinson 20.
Semi finals: Friday, Januarry 15: Barkley v Beggs; Jess v Kirkwood..
AIIB Senior Fours, quarter finals: S Elliman (BIBC) 23 T Gill (BIBC) 4; A Briggs (BIBC) 11 R McCune (CAIBC) 18; H Elliott (BCIBC) v D Hamilton (BIBC) w/o; M McCullagh (BIBC) 9 G Hall (CAIBC) 20.
Semi finals (Saturday, January 16): Elliman v McCune; Hamilton v Hall.
AIIB Inter-Club Championship: Belfast Indoor Bowls Club 85 (7pts) Ballybrackes Comunity Indoor Bowls Club 29 (0): C Craig 22 G McCloy 4; M Merritt 18 S Colvin 7; S Martin 25 W McCaw 6; S Bennett 20 D Smith 12.
Final placings: 1 Belfast IBC 13pts; 2 Ballybrackes CIBC 7pts; 3 County Antrim IBC 1pt.