Ireland duo Kirkwood and Maher in double triumph at Dutch Open

Stephen Kirkwood (left) with Robbie Maher, flanked by Marian Lynch and Rosie Brown
Stephen Kirkwood (left) with Robbie Maher, flanked by Marian Lynch and Rosie Brown

Stephen Kirkwood admits he is still on a ‘high’ following his double success in the Dutch Open in Haarlem last weekend.

The 19-year-old Old Bleach player is becoming accustomed to mounting the winners’ rostrum on foreign soil.

Last year he returned from the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa clutching a bronze medal from the singles discipline.

But it was gold all the way in the Netherlands as Kirkwood pocketed winning trophies in the men’s pairs and mixed fours!

He was joined by Robbie Maher from the St James’s Gate club in Dublin in the former, while Rosie Brown from Dun Laogharie and Crumlin’s Marian Lynch were part of the victory parade in the rinks.

“I’m obviously thrilled,” said Kirkwood, who was a member of the Old Bleach team that won the IBA Senior Cup – the club’s ever success – back in 2014. “It’s an honour to represent your country at such a young age, so to bring home medals, makes it even more special.

“It was a great experience – we suffered only one defeat in the round robin section of the pairs which earned us a place in the knockout stage.”

Kirkwood and Maher stormed past the challenge of Jersey’s Rob Clive and Derek Boswell in the semi final to set up a shoot-out against Hong Kong’s James Tang and Jason Choi, who racked up an astonishing 18-0 win over England’s Graham Robinson and Robert Palser.

“We got off to a great start, leading 7-1 after only five ends,” recalled Kirkwood. “But they gradually reeled us in and actually led by one shot going into the final end.

“Thankfully, we picked up a two, which got us over the line.”

Earlier, Kirkwood and Maher teamed up with Lynch and Brown in the final of the mixed fours. Once again, the brave Irish displayed all their battling qualifies to edge past the challenge of Hong Kong's Candy Ng, Priscilla Lam, Kenny Tam and David Tso, winning 17-16 in the semi finals.

Now, within touching distance of the title, there was just no stopping the Ireland rink, who chalked up a 21-14 win against Elly Dolieslager, Norma Duin, Michael Weerdenburg and Ralph de Rooij, from the Netherlands.

“Again, we made a great start, but the scores were level (12-12) around the 12th end,” added Kirkwood. “But we upped our game after that. We went into the last end, six shots up.”

It’s now back to league action for Kirkwood on Saturday. Kirkwood added: "We had a good win (6-1) over Mossley on Tuesday night, so hopefully we can take that form with us to Larne.”