Team NI bowlers ready for final push

Twenty-four years after winning the gold medal in the Men’s Fours Ian McClure and Martin McHugh have reached another Commonwealth final.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Saturday, 6th August 2022, 11:00 am

Sam Barkley and Adam McKeown, who will make up the quartet in this afternoon’s final against India, weren’t even born when the pair won in Kuala Lumpur.

The fours beat Scotland 18-15 in a tight quarter-final, and in the last four clash with Wales Team NI were 8-4 down after seven ends but rallied for a convincing 18-9 win.

The skip, McHugh, in his seventh Commonwealth Games, was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony and is guaranted his second medal.

Northern Ireland's Martin McHugh

“It’s my seventh Commonwealth Games and I promised the wee man I’d be bringing a medal home and thankfully now I will be bringing a medal home and hopefully it’s the shiny one,” said McHugh.

“The “kids” (Sam and Adam) are great players in their own right. They’ve shown why they are here to play at this Commonwealth Games and I’m glad to be there to give them a bit of guidance towards the future.

“It’s a great combination, things are working well, Sam and Adam up the front and they keep us right at the back end and Ian, he’s just a driving force for the four and I look forward to tomorrow.

“It’s outstanding you know for a small nation, I’d like to wish and congratulate everybody that has medalled at the Commonwealth Games.”

Ian McClure won a bronze medal in 1994 before striking gold four years later.

“We are glad to make it through to the end of the week,” he said. “We started the tournament losing by one shot to Canada and some people possibly had us written off but we’ve dug in, showed a bit of character and someone is maybe looking down on us. We are going for gold tomorrow, fingers crossed, another tough game.

“We appreciate that any game of bowls is tough. India have been doing fantastic, they’ve just beaten a fabulous England team, but we are going into the game with confidence and we are going to do our best.

“I don’t remember what I was doing on the eve of the ‘98 game but I do remember what I was doing after it. I was a lot younger then and the celebrations, if they happen, will be a lot different for me.”

Gary Kelly faces Fairul Izwan Abd Muin Malaysia in the men’s singles semi-final.

The Ballymoney man now plays his bowls in Australia and has won all five matches convincingly and is setting his sights on a gold medal.

“I’ve got to focus now and hopefully get the job done,” said Kelly. “Its nice to have won every game so far but there are a lot of fantastic players still left, so I’ve just got to stay focused, stay confident in my own ability.

“I’m here for one thing, I’m here to win gold for my country and for my sport, I love the game of bowls and I want to see it progress as much as possible around the world but especially in NI and yeah if I could play a small role in that it would be amazing.

“I think you have to dream big but obviously you have to stay focused and concentrate on the job at hand, but no you’ve got to dream big, you’ve got to believe because if you don’t believe you aren’t going to achieve.”