Ireland Bowl to Glory
The 11th World Bowls Championships which took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 12-27 January were quite a success for Ireland. All five members of the Irish Women’s International Bowls team who are funded through the Sport Northern Ireland Athlete Support Programme returned home with a Bronze medal. The overall performance of the team saw Ireland move up the world ratings from twelfth position to eighth ensuring automatic qualification to the 2012 World Championships to be held in Adelaide, Australia.
In the Fours discipline, squad members Alison Bell, Donna McNally, Bernie O’Neill and Jennifer Dowds reached the quarter final where they met the Gold medal winners from last year’s Atlantic Championships, England. The team produced an excellent performance to overwhelm their opponents and move into a medal position where they met joint favorites Australia. After their hardest game in the competition Ireland were beaten by Australia, achieving a Bronze in this discipline.
Following this success O’Neill went on to win her second Bronze medal as she joined Margaret Johnston in the Pairs. After defeating the Scottish Pair who last year were medal winners in the Atlantic Championships, the Irish couple again faced strong opposition in the semi finals this time from the host nation. The Irish eventually succumbed to the strength of New Zealand who went on to win the Gold medal.
Speaking on her team’s success, Sally McGarel Team Manager said: “We are extremely pleased that every member of the team returned with a medal, they deserved the success as they have worked hard during the past year in preparation for the Championships. We would like thank Sport Northern Ireland for their financial support and belief in the team. With every player winning a medal this has been the most successful Irish ladies team and hopefully we will see a resurgence of ladies bowls in Ireland following this performance.”
Speaking on this great result, Eamonn McCartan, Chief Executive of Sport Northern Ireland added: “This is an excellent result for Ireland. I would like to congratulate the team on their great success. They are great ambassadors for Ireland and have done us extremely proud.”