LAWN BOWLS ISLE OF MAN
Over the first weekend in October Clive & Mark McGreal were invited to compete in the Professional Bowls Association World Indoor Bowls event in Cumbria. With such a stellar field of experienced players and big names in the sport to compete against, being invited to compete amongst these was an opportunity just too good to miss out on.
In the singles event, despite a gallant effort from both, they were unable to progress beyond the opening round; Mark having faced a solid all-rounder, England U25 International Matthew Bell, the grandson of the England and local legend John Bell, on his home green, and Clive having gone up against Jordan Slaven, a regular feature in the Scottish U25 setup. There really is little room for error or slow starts at this level, particularly in sets play with just 7 ends in each to lay the marker down. Mark lost in straight sets 5-4 7-5 and by a hair’s breadth missed taking the game into a decisive tie break with his last bowl. Meanwhile, Clive, who was in a similar boat losing in straight sets was somewhat unlucky given he managed to draw the first set, only to lost out due to having one loose end in the second set. His score was 5-5 8-3. Both will feel frustrated and that they were good enough to progress, getting caught out by the rink conditions more than being outplayed.
For the pairs event, both Mark & Clive managed to refocus and put in some tremendous performances, taking themselves as far as the quarterfinals in the world event, narrowly missing out on a place in the semis. Along the way they faced some seasoned PBA eventers and Cumbria locals Stuart Bowman & Mark Irwin, and Scottish internationals John Meikle who was paired with former World Cup winner Iain McLean. These were some top tier scalps! They finally succumb to another Scottish international pair, Carla & Jason Banks, in what was a full family affair. Clive & Mark will feel slightly robbed of a place in the semi final, having been leading on the last end of the first set and holding shot on the green in what seemed to be an unbeatable position, before Jason pulled out a wonder bowl! There was no room for error; miss and there was no change, hit a bowl into the head the jack goes dead where Mark’s bowl was, clip a bowl and it was unlikely to do any damage. The best result the young Scots hoped for was to draw the set. However, out of nowhere, Jason found some magic dust and put that down with his bowl, causing a short bowl to somehow get promoted, missing the jack by a fraction, and striking Mark’s shot bowl, pushing it out of the head, with his original bowl just following through enough to make a second! Unbelievable! From there, in the second set, Mark & Clive felt as though they were chasing the game from the get go, which resulted in a couple of slack ends and little time to pull back the deficit.
This was a great experience for the guys and a further all-important Commonwealth Games consideration standard has been achieved. It is a shame that the competition came so close to the end of the outdoor season, as the ability to have a bit more indoor practice prior to the event would have put them both in good stead to put in even better performances, particularly in the singles.
Mark & Clive would like to show their appreciation to Cumbria Indoor Bowls Club, in particular Trevor Taylor, for their super hospitality over the weekend, and their congratulations to the winners. Good Luck at Potters!
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