Ireland will have two new faces on show for the British Isles Senior Double Rink Championship staged at Warners Lakeside Coastal Village, Southampton, over the weekend.
County Antrim pair, John Nicholl and Stephen Coleman, are drafted in for their debut, replacing Seamus Elliman and Bobby Johnston.
The tournament also moves to a new venue near Hayley Island in the south of England.
Ireland had to wait 10 years to before getting their hands on the trophy for the first time back in 2008 at the former venue, Bodwyddan Castle in Wales, but they’ve been on the winning rostrum on two occasions since that breakthrough victory.
They made a successful defence the following year . . . before enjoying a third triumph in 2012.
In fact, they were denied a record-breaking hat-trick of wins in 2010. Once again they returned home with the trophy in the knowledge that they had become the first country to lift the crown on three successive years, only to have it whipped away from under their noses after it emerged a wrong scorecard was returned. The title was duly award to Scotland!
Nicholl will play lead in the rink skipped by Roy McCune, with Rod Coleman and James Caldwell forming the middle order. Coleman is handed skipping responsibilities. He’ll be joined by Stanley Hegan, Harry Elliott and Willie McCaw.
“We had to wait 10 years for our first win after the inaugural year back in 1999, but we enjoyed it so much we did it again on a few other occasions,” quipped Rod Coleman.
“We were all gutted at having lost out in the 2010 campaign. We were home with the trophy, but it then someone spotted a wrong score logged in one of the games. It’s now all water under the bridge. We’ll be going over there determined to get our hands on the title again.
“England are hosting the Series this season. They are the current holders of the title and I’m sure they’ll be in no mood to surrender the trophy.
“But we’ll go there with a couple of new faces on show. There is great camaraderie between the teams, but the competition is always fierce. We are looking forward to it.”
The Irish begin their challenge on Saturday morning against Scotland -- the first of a double header as they will face England in the second session. Wales then provide the opposition on Sunday afternoon.
Teams: Ireland: Rink one: S Hagen, H Elliott, W McCaw, S Coleman. Rink two: J Nicholl, R Coleman, J Caldwell, R McCune.
England: Rink one: J Ottaway, T Horobin, M Smith, M Sekjer.; Rink two: J Rednall, M Sharpe, J Evans, D Dennison.
Scotland: A Milne, G Smith, G Sullivan, R Gordon. Rink two: R Muirhead, S Reid, S Rankin, R Grant.
Wales: W Letman, C Todd, N Leigh, M Johnson. Rink two: A Watson, C Davies, S Rees, R Weale.
Saturday (9.30am): Scotland v Ireland (R Gordon v R McCune; R Grant v S Coleman).
England v Wales (M Sekjer v R Weale; D Dennison v M Johnson).
Saturday (2.30pm): England v Ireland (M Sekjer v S Coleman; D Dennison v R McCune); Scotland v Wales (R Gordon v M Johnston; R Grant v R Weale).
Sunday (1.15pm): Ireland v Wales: (S Coleman v R Weale; R McCune v M Johnston); England v Scotland (D Dennison v R Grant; M Sekjer v R Gordon).
l It’s the final call for entries for the Ballybrakes Bowls Club’s short mat singles tournament that will have a £1600 prize fund up for grabs.
The competition, staged on Saturday and Sunday, will have a similar format as the Irish Short-Mat Tour singles. Everyone is guaranteed six games in the round robin sections with players then progressing to different knockout stages. For further infoplease e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Ballybrakes Community Indoor Bowling Club facebook page.
l Denis Connolly will be hosting a stadium/outdoor umpires course in Ballybrakes Community Indoor Bowls Club on Friday, February 6 (7-9pm).
The course will run four approximately four weeks.
Anyone requiring further information can contact Denis on 028 2766 4097 or 07594 550228.