Ballymoney hosts World Short Mat Bowls contest

Last weekend the biggest short mat bowling tournament ever to be staged in the Province took place at the PTIBC stadium in Ballymoney.

The opening ceremony took place on Friday morning when the twelve participating teams were led into the stadium by local school children, carrying the flags of the different countries. The teams taking part came from Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Germany and India.

The chairman of the IIBA, David Sterritt, welcomed everyone to the competition and thanked the management of the stadium for all their help in preparing for this event. He also thanked Ballymoney Borough Council for all their help and financial support. The mayor of Ballymoney, Ian Stevenson, welcomed everyone to the North Coast. He then officially opened the tournament by delivering two bowls.

Although some of the participating countries are relatively new to short mat bowls, it was encouraging to see them taking part.

The teams from Belgium and Sweden in particular have improved greatly and produced some excellent play.

However the semi-finals and finals were dominated by Ireland, Wales and England. Ireland won two titles, while England and Wales each collected one title.

The Irish triple of John Murnaghan, Paddy Hanlon and Gerry McCabe were in excellent form throughout the competition and won the coveted title in a final that they made look comfortable.

The Irish rink of Michael Hand, Fra Dillon, Billy Taffe and Kevin Conroy came from a 9-5 deficit to win in a nail-biting extra end and be crowned the world short mat fours champions.

The results were as follows:

Singles: S Williams, Wales 11 : D Reid, England 5

Pairs: D Newsome, England 9 : N Evans, Wales 3

Triples: Gerry McCabe, Ireland 8: A Williams, England 7

Rinks: Kevin Conroy, Ireland 10 : B Hadden, Wales 9

Ireland also gained three third places: Singles: Trevor Turkington, Pairs: Clarke Hill and Alan Paul, Rinks: Ronald Stubbs, Gordon Stubbs, Paul Reid and Raymond Stubbs

Throughout the two days a large crowd of spectators was entertained to a feast of bowls and everyone was impressed by the excellent catering facilities available.

The IIBA are very indebted to Joan McClelland and her catering staff for all their hard work before and during the tournament to ensure that all players and spectators enjoyed good Irish hospitality.

After the prize giving the proceedings were brought to a close by Ronnie McDermott, President of the IIBA and President of the World Bowls.

Ronnie, who is in his 86th year, delivered a very witty speech and then handed over the World Bowls banner to Wales who will host the event in 2014.