TEAM NI: Ladies bowls team spearheaded by experienced campaigner Barbara Cameron

andy Cunningham(Ewarts), Sally McGarel(Larne) International team manager,Jennifer Dowds(Ballymena)
andy Cunningham(Ewarts), Sally McGarel(Larne) International team manager,Jennifer Dowds(Ballymena)

Northern Ireland’s Barbara Cameron is determined to break her Commonwealth Games ‘duck’ when the action gets under way at the picturesque Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Club.

The Ballymena player will be featuring in her fifth ‘Games’, but she is still craving for an elusive first medal.

Cameron will again spearhead and five-player Irish group that has prepared rigorously under the guidance of manager Sally McGarel.

“To get on the podium would be a highlight, a dream come true,” said the experienced Ireland international.

“I have been to four previous games, and was close before but just didn’t make it, so hopefully this time we will achieve our ambition.”

Cameron, who will operate in the triples and fours disciplines, began her Commonwealth romance in Victoria in 1994. She then competed in Kuala Lumpur (1998); Manchester (2002) and Melbourne in 2006.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he added. “We have prepared well, taking part in quite a few Test Matches in the build-up. It’s now down to us to produce the good when it matters.”

In contrast, Cameron’s team mate Catherine McMillan is scheduled to make her Commonwealth debut. She teams up with Donna McCloy, Jennifer Dowds and Mandy Cunningham, who make up the squad.

McMillan, from the Divis club, has been handed the responsibility of competing the ‘blue riband’ singles discipline . . . and will join Cunningham in the pairs.

McCloy, Cameron and Dowds, all from Ballymena, feature in the triples, with Cunningham -- she recently won the British Isles singles -- joining the same three players in the fours.

In fact, McCloy and Dowds were pairs partners in Delhi four years ago where they finished in a disappointing seventh position.

Dowds believes the conditions played a part in their below-par performance.

“It was just after the monsoon, it was warm,” she recalls. “The insects were on the green, you were walking over the top of them. It was really, really tough especially for us to adjust to.”

Over the years, bowlers from Northern Ireland have won a total of 18 medals at the Games and the ladies class of 2014 can count on their sense of friendship, on and off the green, as they strive for victory in Scotland.

“You have to be able to work with each other,” said McCloy. “If somebody plays a bad bowl you give them a pat on the back, you say ‘don’t worry about it, there are more bowls to come’ and you just keep the camaraderie going.”

If experience is the key ingredient for success this year, the ladies from Northern Ireland could well be on the podium.

Northern Ireland women’s team: Singles: Catherine McMillan.

Pairs: McMillan, Mandy Cunningham.

Triples: Donna McCloy, Barbara Cameron, Jennifer Dowds.

Fours: Cunningham, McCloy, Cameron, Dowds.

The ladies team open their campaign on Thursday.