Portrush bowler Gary McCloy looks back on a memorable 2022

Portrush bowler Gary McCloy is starting the New Year with an incredible year 2022 behind him, having added another Irish title to his impressive CV and finishing the year off with a World Championship medal.

Gary teamed up with club mates Derek Smith and Ian McClure to win the Irish Triples Championship with a 21-17 win over the Private Greens triple skipped by Conor McCartan.

Their win now progresses them to the British Isles Championships which will be held in Scotland in June – hopefully bringing back the title to the Portrush club, where Gary’s father will be President in the club’s centenary year.

This is Gary’s third time winning the Irish triples title. Their win also gained them the Team Award at the Causeway Coast and Glens Sport Awards. Gary and Ian are no strangers to winning titles together as they were part of Northern Ireland’s winning four who won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

The finalists of the World Bowls Champions of Champions 2022, Runner-up Izzat Dzulkeple (Malaysia), Winner Sam Tolchard (England), Bronze medallists Gary McCloy (Ireland) and Lee Schraner (Australia).

Gary was scheduled to participate in the World Champion of Champions singles tournament in Adelaide in November 2020 but a worldwide pandemic put paid to that.

World Bowls rescheduled the event for November 2022, in Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Gary’s singles win also qualified him to compete in the British Isles Championships, which were held earlier in the year in Wales. Gary faced fellow Royal Mail colleague, Kevin James, and after a very tight fought game narrowly lost 21-18.

So, in November Gary headed down under to New Zealand, to compete in the Champion of Champions. The men’s field had some 30 entries, split into two sections. “Windy Wellington” threw all sorts of conditions at the players and on the first day of competition play had to be moved to the indoor green as the outdoor greens were unplayable due to being flooded.

Gary didn’t get off to the best of starts but over the following days he bounced back and won his next six games racing up the leader board and into contention for a playoff. On the last day of sectional play, he needed to win both games to guarantee finishing in third place. First off, he faced Botswana, lying game with a straight sets win, when his opposition played an amazing bowl to remove Gary’s shot bowls to take the match to a tie-break.

Gary pictured with the IBA Singles trophy in 2019

But with Gary’s experience, he came through winning the tie-break. Samoa was his final match with a win needed, but unfortunately his opponent beat Gary in a tie-break. It left Gary waiting on other results coming in but on count back and due to the number of sets Gary had won, he progressed to the play-offs.

On quarter-final day, play was again moved inside due to wind. Gary again faced his fellow Royal Mail colleague Kevin James and beat him in straight sets, taking him to the semi-final against Sam Tolchard from England, which he was unfortunate to lose in straight sets.

It left Gary winning a Bronze medal in what was arguably the greatest test for any bowler playing in the toughest weather conditions in the world.

Gary was “thrilled” at winning the bronze medal, adding it to his many medals he has won over the years including World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Gary in action on the Naenae greens in New Zealand
Read More
Ballybrakes Community Indoor Bowling Club Christmas short-mat tournament
Pictured Derek Smith, Colin Hogg (IBA President), Ian McClure and Gary McCloy