Rathfriland’s A team takes bowling win.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Rathfriland’s A team takes bowling win. thumbnail Gavan and Kyle Blakely, Jack Moffett and Joe McKnight receive the British Indoor Bowling Association Rinks trophy from IIBA President, Flo McNally.

FOUR bowlers from Rathfriland, Joe McKnight, Gavan Blakely, Jack Moffett and Kyle Blakely had a notable achievement last week, when they won the A team Series British Indoor Bowling Association's Rinks title at the British Championships in Belfast.

The Rathfriland rink's journey started last November when they won the South Down Zone National contest, which qualified them to play in the IIBA (Irish Indoor Bowling Association) finals.

They subsequently won through to the final of that competition and emerged as runners-up after losing narrowly in a tied end game.

However, that consequently earned them an opportunity to compete for the IIBA in the British Championships, which were held last weekend in the Belfast Indoor Bowling Stadium.

The first game was against Scotland on Friday morning and even though nerves were a factor, they swept the Scottish rink aside with a convincing 23-1 win through the 12 ends.

In the afternoon England were the opponents and the home rink played their best bowls of the tournament to get away to a quick start and be 16-0 up after only seven ends.

The English rink challenged back.

However, once again the Ireland rink kept it tight to run out as 21-6 winners and set up a final against the Welsh on Saturday after noon.

This was a cagier affair and even though the home rink went 3-1 up, after six ends they found themselves 6-3 down.

A three brought them level, however the eighth end saw a turning point when Joe and Gavan covered the jack with their opening bowls and Jack followed up to consolidate the position.

Wales had only one bowl counting in the head and when Kyle took it sweetly out, Ireland had a count of five to go 11-6 up.

Wales got a single in the ninth end and were lying a count of three in the 10th.

They discussed at length the strategy for their skip's final bowl (almost 10 minutes!) and decided to protect their shots with a short bowl on the backhand.

Kyle stepped up and played a running bowl across the forehand to squeeze the jack through to his own bowls and so turn a three down head into a two up, a swing of five shots.

Joe and Gavan set up a good position in the penultimate end and when the Welsh bowlers couldn't get in, Jack drew a perfect bowl on the forehand to give Ireland a three shot lie.

Kyle drew bowls to protect the lie and try as he might, the Welsh skip couldn't disturb the head and a further three shots gave Ireland the British title with an unassailable 16-7 score.

The Welsh crowd, who had been fairly vocal throughout the match were silenced and the local support (including folk from Lenish, Cabra, Ballyweely, Rathfriland and Banbridge) were able to celebrate bringing the title home to The Hill.

This was a proud moment for the representatives of the South Down Zone and Rathfriland in particular.

Jack has already achieved a double win in the Irish Under 18 outdoor championships and been named as Irish Young Bowler of the year in 2017.

It was also a proud moment for Clonduff Presbyterian Church Bowling Club where Kyle, Gavan and Joe commenced their bowling careers.


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