BOWLS: McClure joins Daly in World Championship squad

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PORTRUSH bowler Ian McClure has been named alongside the new British Isles singles champion, Paul Daly, in the Ireland squad for the 2012 World Championships in Australia.

Daly, who plays for Ulster Transport, last week turned in a magnificent performance in Wales to hoist the British crown for the first time.

The display helped sway the selectors, who gave him the nod for the world showcase event, staged at the Locksley’s Club, near Adelaide, in November.

Daly is also joined in the five-man team by Martin McHugh, from Ballymena and Old Bleach pair, James Talbot and Neil Booth.

“Paul and James will compete in the world championships for the first time,” said team boss Jim Baker. “The other lads have previously enjoyed a fair degree of success at the level.

“It’s a tried and trusted group of players that have the ability and talent to make an impact on the tournament.”

Although it will be a new venture for Daly and Talbot, both have tasted personal success recently with the Ulster Transport man savouring his finest hour with that British title victory.

Talbot also put himself in the world frame by winning the World Cup singles in Hong Kong. That followed his success in the Michael Anderson Philip tournament in the USA.

“The other boys (McClure, Booth and McHugh), have all been on the medal rostrum in the world championships and also the Commonwealtth Games, so they know what is required,” added Baker.”

McHugh and McClure won bronze in the triples in Jonannesburg back in 2000, along with Gary McCloy. Four years later, Booth struck gold in the fours in Ayr – the rink skipped by the current team manager.

In fact, it was a fabulous campaign for the Irish. Booth lifted also lifted triples bronze medal, along with Johnny Ross and Jeremy Henry, while Noel Graham and Baker won silver in the pairs.

McClure’s medal breakthrough was in the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, winning bronze in the fours, accompanied by Victor Dallas, John McLoughlin and Noel Graham.

Four years later in Kaula Lumpur McHugh, McClure and Booth paraded gold in the fours – the rink skipped by Gary McCloy. Jeremy Henry also lifted gold in the singles.

Booth was back among the medals in Manchester in 2002, lifting bronze in the fours, joined by Michael Nutt, Noel Graham and Jim Baker.

And, in Melboure in 2006, he maintained his tremendous level of success by winning a triples silver medal, teaming up with Jeremy Henry and Mark McPeak.

Gary Kelly was the only medal winner in the 2010 Games in New Delhi, beating England’s Sam Tolchard to lift bronze in the singles.

“We’ll now get down to some serious practice,” added Baker. “I hope to arrange a few challenge games, hopefully against some of the home nations. We plan to travel to Australia a week before the championships to get the guys acclimatised to the temperatures and greens.”

Ireland team: N Booth (Old Bleach), J Talbot (Old Bleach), I McClure (Portrush), M McHugh (Ballymena), P Daly (Ulster Transport).

Singles: McHugh. Pairs: McHugh, McClure. Triples: Daly, Talblot, Booth. Fours: Daly, Talbot, McClure, Booth.