Neil Mulholland strikes it rich on the Gold Coast with world singles glory

Lisnagarvey's Neil Mulholland
Lisnagarvey's Neil Mulholland

Ireland international Neil Mulholland has struck it rich on the Queesland Gold Coast by winning the World Champion of Champions singles title at the Helensvale Bowls Club, Australia.

The Lisnagarvey man enjoyed his finest hour with a straight sets win over Malaysia’s Fairul Muin in the final.

He was joined on the winners’ rostrum by Malaysia’s Emma Saroji, who won the women’s championship, following a tense win over Nici Neal, from South Africa.

Mulholland defeated Israel’s Boaz Markux (12-2, 12-3) in the quarter finals before edging home in a tie-break semi final success against Australia’s Scott Thulborn (9-5, 3-8, 3-2) in a tie-break.

And, it appeared the final against Muin would also go the distance as the opening set finished level (10-10). That was until Mulholland put his foot on the gas, to roar home 8-3, earning him the title for the first time.

Ireland were also among the medals in the recent Honk Kong Bowls Classic.

Ballymena’s Andy Duncan and Mark Wilson (Cookstown) returned home with silver medals, having been defeated by Australia in the final.

The Irish lads had previously won all their 11 games at the group stage.

In fact, Duncan chalked up a silver double. He narrowly lost out to local bowler Jordi Lo in a tie-break in the singles final.

* Mid Ulster’s Seamus Kyne describes Saturday’s IIBA Men’s Inter-association second round clash against Meath at Maghera Presbyterian as a ‘banana skin’ fixture (2pm).

Having benefited from an opening round bye, the Mid Ulster boys, who have already written their own little piece of history in this tournament, will be eager to flex their Boomer Cup muscles.

They know a thing or two about winning the trophy, having had their named inscribed on the silverware on 10 previous occasions.

Their finest hour was back in the late 90’s when they lifted the title on five success years (1998-2002). Even though they enjoyed cup wins in 2010 and 2012, Mid Ulster have been shunted aside in recent times, with Oriel taking on the mantle of kingpins.

“We haven’t figured too much of late in terms of a title challenge,” said Kyne.

“We’ve got a favourable draw in the second round. In saying that, you can take nothing for granted in this game.

“And, the winners will have home advantage over south Down or South & East Belfast, so there is a big incentive to get through.”

Meanwhile, following their impressive first round victory over Western, Boomer Cup holders Oriel will be determined to remain on track for a hat-trick of title wins when they travel to face East Antrim.

They are the first zone to record back-to-back victories since the Mid Ulster glory days. Oriel may not need to move up the gears to see off the East Antrim challenge, but victory would earn them home advantage in the quarter finals against either North Down or Armagh which could be a lot more testing.

For the first time ever, a serious challenge could come from Belfast. South and East have now combined with North Belfast which will strengthen the team’s hand considerably.

In fact, no fewer than 10 players will make the switch and are included in the team that travels to Newry to face South Down, including Aaron Patterson, Chris Mullen, Simon Cavan, Damien Bintley, Ryan Cavan, Thomas Carson, Gerard Robinson, Tony Robinson, Stephen Sewell, Gerard McCloskey, Johnny McKeown, Keith Greenaway, Thomas McClean and Matthew Crawford.

“They will help boost the squad,” said Belfast’s James Newell. “Eleven clubs from North Belfast have now merged with South and East -- the other 10 have joined East Antrim.

“Hopefully, from next year, we will be known as ‘Belfast Zone’. This, however, has to be approved at the IIBA AGM in April.”

* Entries are now invited for the Ballybrakes Community Indoor Bowls Club’s Annual Short Mat Christmas tournament.

It will get underr way on Monday, December 28 and run until Friday, January 1, with finals night on Saturday, January 2.

Entries can be forwarded to Donna McCloy, 48 Millbrooke Manor, Ballymoney. Alternatively Donna can be contacted on 07764 469006, or by e-mail secretary.ballybrakescibc@gmail.com, or to our Ballybrakes CIBC Facebook page.

Singles £4: Monday (28th) evening; Tuesday (29th) evening; Friday (1st) afternoon. Pairs £6: Monday (28th) afternoon; Wednesday (30th) evening; Friday(st) January evening. Entries close Friday, December 18.

“We had a record number of entries last year and hopefully we can exceed that this year,” said Donna.

Fixtures

IIBA Men’s Inter-Zone Championship: East Antrim v Oriel; North Down v Armagh; Foyle v North Eastern; North West v Donegal; Mid Down v Monaghan; Lisburn v Northern; Mid Ulster v Meath; South Down v South & East Belfast.