Ian McClure believes the Irish Bowls Federation are on to a winner with their Regional Development squad initiative, which helps target the cream of the country’s young players.
The scheme, funded by the Belfast City Council, involves Under-18 and Under-25 players, who benefit from coaching and development opportunities at Belfast Indoor Bowls club on a weekly basis.
Supported by all the local governing bodies - the IBA, AIIB, IWBA and IWIBA - the 15 athletes selected for this innovative programme will have the chance to progress to the ‘Talent Pathway for Under-18 and Under-25 players in Northern Ireland’.
McClure, an IBF Talent Development Officer, commented: “The feedback from the participants has been excellent so far.
“We have been focusing each week on skills development, goal setting and performing well as a team.
“Competitions will be organised and prizes awarded towards the end of the programme. Furthermore, managers of all International teams have been involved throughout the process and we have been inviting different guest speakers along each week to share experiences with the squad.”
Belfast Lord Mayor, Arder Carson, stressed the Belfast City Council are thrilled to be part of the initiative.
He said: “Taking part in sport is great training for life. It offers not only improved health and fitness, but trains individuals in team working, leadership, discipline and tactical thinking.
“The scheme acts as a ‘hot house’ for young talent offering intensive coaching and providing increased competition experience for young contenders”.
The players involved in the programme are: Shea Martin, Conor Prunty, Sam Barkley, Allana McKee, Claire Montgomery, Adam McKeown, Jack Moffett, Mick Hedley, Andrew Johnson, Dean Mills, Mitchell Albert, Jamie Watson, Reece Miller, Ryan McIlroy, Emily Dornan.
n Ireland manager Roy McCune believes his team’s preparation for next month’s British Isles Series at Llanelli will be cranked up over the weekend.
The Irish will entertain the National Civil Service at Parkgate tomorrow and Sunday.
It means an early test for the Kirkwood brothers - Stephen and Robert - who received an international call up for the first time.
Also in for the first time comes County Antrim’s Brian Trimble, while the experienced Gary McCloy, from the Ballybrakes Club, has earned a recall.
“This will be a good test,” said McCune.
“The Civil Service bring over a very strong squad, which includes a number of international players from England, Scotland and Wales.
“Our team performed really well in last season’s internationals at Stanley Bowls Club, finishing level with England and Scotland at the top of the table, but we lost out on shot advantage, so we have to take a lot of positives from that.
“Now the door has opened the door for Stephen and Robert Kirkwood.
“The international team selection is now based on an assessment procedure, that includes three trials.
“The new caps featured very highly on all three. Stephen, of course, brought home a medal from the Junior Commonwealth Games earlier this season. So it’s a big chance for all of them.”
Ireland: Rink one: C Eadie (BIBC), P McEwan (BIBC), D Corkill (BIBC), G Kelly (BCIBC).
Rink two: M McPeak (BIBC), G McCloy (BCIBC), D Smith (BCIBC), I McCliure (BCIBC).
Rink three: JR Nicholl (CAIBC), B Trimble (CAIBC), A Coleman (CAIBC), S Coleman (CAIBC).
Rink four: D Atkinson (BIBC), S Kirkwood (BIBC), N Mulholland (BIBC), B Kane (BCIBC).
Rink five: S Jess (BIBC), J McCullough (BIBC), S Bennett (BIBC), A Duncan (BIBC).
Rink six: P Prunty (BIBC), R Kirkwood (BIBC), M Merritt (BIBC), G McKee (CAIBC).
Reserves: A Kennedy (BCIBC), N Robinson (BCIBC).