McClure eyes Singles glory

Portrush bowler Ian McClure. CR18-259PL
Portrush bowler Ian McClure. CR18-259PL
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Ian McClure is about to embark on the second phase of a possible triple triumph at Carrickfergus over the weekend.

The Portrush player negotiated the first hurdle a few weeks back at Portglenone Bowls Club by retaining the Provincial singles trophy -- becoming the first player to complete a hat-trick of back-to-back title wins.

He’ll now focus on the next stage, featuring in the Irish singles semi finals. His ultimate aim is to book a spot in next season’s British Isles finals, but that is a long way off.

McClure, of course, lifted all three titles - Provincial, Irish and British - back in 2013 and he’s hungry for more.

“I managed to get hold of the Provincial trophy for the third time on the bounce last month, which was a big thrill,” said the Ireland international.

“You can’t look too far forward in this game because it has the habit of coming back to bite you.

“So, I’ll be going into the Irish semi finals, confident but cautious.”

McClure comes up against Shane Leonard of St James’s Gate in the semi final, with the winner going forward to meet either Lisnagarvey’s Neil Mulholland or Andy Morrison, from Ballymena.

“Nothing is easy at this level,” added McClure, a member of the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team in Glasgow back in July.

“I’ve got the first part out of the way, in terms of the Provincial title. The Irish Championship is now another massive test. Everyone is here on merit.

“I got my hands on the Irish title for the first time back in 2008 and then won it again four years later.

“I was beaten by Marty (McHugh) in last season’s final, which was a disappointment, but I’ve now got a chance to get that out of the system. But I’m certainly taking nothing for granted. I’ll need to be at my best.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Kirkwood is on a double mission in the Under-25 and Youth Singles.

The young Old Bleach player, still basking in the glory of his team’s tremendous IBA Senior Cup win at Jordanstown last weekend, comes up against Letterkenny’s Daniel O’Kane in the semi final of the Under-25 discipline.

Kirkwood, who moved to the Randalstown club from Hilden at the beginning of the season, will then go head to head with Rathfriland’s Jack Moffett in his semi final tie.

Dunbarton will be looking to end the outdoor season in a blaze of glory. The club is on the verge of lifting the PGL singles title, but they will also contest the Irish pairs, triples and fours over the weekend.

Conor McCartan and DJ Wilson carry the responsibility in the pairs, but they come up against a formidable combination in Nicky McCaw and Brian McAlary, of Ballymoney, in their opener.

Then, Michael Higgins, Tony Bell and Andy Hughes, go into action in the triples. They also come up a Provincial combination in the form of Eric Sands, Liam McHugh and Damien McElroy, of Cooktown.

Higgins, Hughes and Wilson join former Ireland skip Myles Greenfield in the fours. Again their resistance will be tested as they face the Lisnagarvey combination of Scott Jess, Marty Nelson, Philip Cromie and Noel Graham.

IBA National Championships

Open singles: S Leonard (St James’s Gate) v I McClure (Portrush). N Mulholland (Lisnagarvey) v A Morrison (Ballymena).

Junior singles: S Leonard (St James’s Gate) v J Montgomery (Whitehead). D O’Kane (Letterkenny) S Kirkwood (Old Bleach).

Youth Singles: A Clyde (Dunluce) v P Ward (Crumlin). S Kirkwood (Old Bleach) v J Moffett (Rathfriland).

Pairs: C McCartan, DJ Wilson (Dunbarton) v N McCaw, B McAlary (Ballymoney). M McHugh, B Browne (Whitehead) v M Kelly, F McCarthy (CYM).

Triples: J Leonard, R Leonard, S Leonard (St James’s Gate) v G Clarke, G Scott, M Shannon (Bangor). E Sands, L McHugh, D McElroy (Cookstown) v M Higgins, T Bell, A Hughes (Dunbarton).

Fours: S Jess, M Nelson, P Cromie, N Graham (Lisnagarvey) v M Higgins, A Hughes, DJ Wilson, M Greenfield (Dunbarton). B Hughes, C Brogan, B McAlary, N McCaw (Ballymoney) v G Pierpoint, J Leonard, R Leonard, S Leonard (St James’s Gate).

Senior Fours: J Duncan, L Brennan, J O’Neill, B Kennedy (Coleraine) v J McLaney, R Barr, R Horner, R Battersby (Belmont). S Johns, P Hamill, P Moorehead, R Darcy (CYM) v D Ashwood, D McIntyre, J Stevenson, M Reid (Balmoral).