Gary Kelly has a big act to follow when he features in the AIIB National Singles qualifier at the County Antrim Indoor Bowls Club on Sunday.
The 26 year old this week returned from the Atlantic Championships in Cyprus, along with the rest of the Ireland team, with another impressive medal haul.
Kelly went one better than his silver performance in the event four years ago by lifting a gold medal in the pairs, along with Ian McClure.
But the Provincial boys were still not finished. Kelly gobbled up a bronze medal in the singles, while McClure was part of the Irish rink that won bronze in the fours, which included Aaron Tennent, Neil Mulholland and Marty McHugh.
Kelly, McClure and Mulholland have since left the Athena Beech sunshine behind them and will now focus on enhancing their indoor achievements.
And, it a strange quirk of fate, Kelly will line out against Mulholland in his opening fixture.
“You couldn’t make it up,” he quipped. “We have a fabulous time over the last fortnight in the Atlantic Championships. The team did fantastically well . . . every one of the boys returned with a medal.
“In that class of company it was a tremendous performance. The ladies also performed really well, winning gold in the singles (Catherine Beattie) and the triples (Erin Smith, Bernie O’Neill and Sandra Bailie).
“So, overall, it was a very successful venture for the country in general.”
Kelly will now set his sights on improving on his seven Irish indoor titles.
“I won the Under-25 singles lat season . . . my last year in that discipline due to the age restriction,” he adds. “I’ve managed to win the senior singles on one occasion, that was back in 2008.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend qualifier. I’ve a tough opening match, but regardless of who you get at this stage, it was always going to be difficult. Everyone is in the last 16 on merit. Having come so far, they’ll all fancy their chances.”
Kelly, of course, has already booked his place in the semi final of the AIIB Triples, then after the National finals, he’ll fly off to Potters to compete in the World Singles Championship.
He has been drawn against the current title holder and top seed, Alex Marshall, from Scotland.
“Strangely, the last time played in the world singles at Potters was back in 2008 and Alex beat me in the second round on a tie-break . . . it was a really close game,” added Kelly. I’m certainly looking forward going back there, but my immediate focus is on the singles qualifier this weekend.”
AIIB National singles qualifier: S Gibson (BIBC) v R Barr (BIBC); D Atkinson (BIBC) v A Coleman (CAIBC); A Kyle (CAIBC) v S Kirkwood (BIBC); G Kelly (BCIBC) v N Mulholland (BIBC); T Robinson (CAIBC) v S Jess (BIBC); G McCloy (BCIBC) v St Coleman (CAIBC); J Frazer (CAIBC) v I McClure (BCIBC); R Allen (BCIBC) v S Martin (BIBC).
Belfast Indoor Bowls Club Men’s Even Leagues
Monday: A Robinson 10 J Miller 11, J Hinds 20 D Millar 8, S Kirkwood 16 G McLoughlin 7, J Frazer 21 G Watters 8, S Dalzell 4 S Hegan 22, R Kirkwood 21 S Vance 4, M McKeown 15 S Templeton 9.
Tuesday “A’’: P McVeigh 11 J McGettrick 10, M Hedley 11 K Armstrong 8, J Forsythe 6 D Hamilton 20, M Merritt 9 B Daly 8, C Campbell 8 M Leckey 7.
Tuesday “B’’: J Allen 10 A Entwistle 19, B Bell 14 JH Campbell 8, A Brown 10 M Simpson 9, B Hunter 20 A O’Rourke 6, E Thompson 14 S Malcolmson 12, B Carroll 12 N Edmondson 18, M Irvine 11 A Reid 8.
Wednesday: F Lemon 16 P Hunniford 10, J Marshall 11 R Simpson 15, J Gallagher 22 W Moran 3, J Miller 10 W Thompson 10, B Carlisle 11 D Hamilton 14, D Porter 3 S Elliman 19.
Thursday: J Forsythe 15 JH Campbell 7, B Dorman 6 T Gill17, J Hinds 4 F Simpson 11, S Elliman 10 A Bailie 17, J Frazer 13 D Livingstone 16.
Friday: S Bennett 20 I McIntyre 4, D Clarke 10 E McCourt 17, J Marshall 12 S Adamson 14, C Craig 11 D Simpson 14.
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Men’s Saturday League: B Kelso 6 S Hegan 19, M Dunlop 16 H Murray 12, D Simpson 14 F Simpson 13, A Bailie 16 M Hedley 9, J Marshall 2 M Merritt 25, D Burns 15 W Dorman 15, W Thompson 9 A Briggs 12, P McVeigh 16 H Johnston 11, M Gwynne 6 J Herron 19.