After another hard fought day of competition for Team NI at the Glasgow Games, the bowlers are once again in contention for another medal. This time it’s the women in the pairs competition. Bowlers Barbara Cameron and Mandy Cunningham, were narrowly beaten 14-19 in the semi-final by Winch and Melmore of England. However they are now through to the Bronze Medal match against Jersey’s Katie Nixon and Lindsey Greechan at 08.45 in the morning.
The Northern Ireland duo came through their quarter-final this morning against New Zealand, overcoming an early four shot deficit before going on to win 14-10. However the English pair of Jamie Lea-Winch and Natalie Melmore proved too much of a hurdle to overcome in the semi-finals. The game was tight early on and tied at 5-5 after six ends but Cameron and Cunningham couldn’t forge an advantage and eventually lost 19-14.
“We were slow to get out of the box with the game shortened to 18 ends. You must get out quickly,” admitted Cameron who is still seeking a first Commonwealth medal.
“This is my fifth (Commonwealth) Games now. On four previous occasions it’s been like this, so hopefully we’ll pick the medal up. The Commonwealth to me would be the medal to win. It would be a dream come true, but there’s still 18 ends to fight for it so we’ll be there.”
This is the final chance for the bowlers to claim a second medal of the Games after the men’s triples took silver.
“The boys won silver. They will have the bragging rights if we don’t take home something,” said Cunningham.
“We play against Jersey every year in the Home International series, so they’ll be up for it as much as we will.”
She added, “You need your best game here against anyone, no matter who it is. You can’t underestimate any opponent here.”
Sport Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown passed on best wishes:“We wish Catherine and Mandy all the very best in their Bronze Medal match in the morning. Northern Ireland and everyone in Sport Northern Ireland will be right behind them.”
In other bowls action, Neil Booth’s glittering Glasgow performance came to an end in the quarter-finals of the men’s fours. Skipping the quartet of Paul Daly, Ian McClure and Neil Mulholland they lost 18-11 to England in a game they had come from 8-1 down to lead 11-9 after 12 of the 15 ends.
It was the thirteenth end that proved unlucky for the Northern Ireland quartet as they contrived to give up seven shots and effectively the match.
“We may have played it differently. Low and behold we lost a seven, we probably lost it in that end,” lamented Booth.
His opposite number Stuart Airey added, “To get a seven in this sort of standard is rare but it can happen and that’s bowls for you.”
In his five Commonwealth Games, Booth won four medals – a gold in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, bronze in 2002 in Manchester and silver eight years ago in Melbourne and this week in Glasgow.
Martin McHugh bowed out at the quarter-final stage to home town favourite Darren Burnett in a game that swung way and then another.
The 41 year-old from Whitehead started out strongly and was 13-6 ahead before Burnett stormed back and into the lead 16-13.
McHugh composed himself and retook the lead 20-16 and was within one shot of victory, but it was a shot that never came. Burnett came back once again and won 21-20.
“I was still playing well but Darren is a good player. He dug in which is the sign of a quality player. He played some good bowls, particularly at the death.”
Katie Kirk was rewarded with a personal best for another excellent run as she finished sixth in the semi-final of the 800m in front of 40,000 spectators at Hampden Park tonight.
Kirk’s time of 2:02.63 was 15-hundredths of a second inside the time she ran in Bedford earlier in the season and on the biggest stage of her developing career the 22 year-old from Holywood didn’t disappoint.
In a heat that was won in 2:01.39 by the world champion Eunice Sum from Kenya, Kirk may have missed out on the final but there is no doubting her potential yet it says a lot for her ambition that she was still disappointed afterwards.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit disappointed. I’m just not quick enough to keep up on the first lap and obviously I picked off quite a few before the finish which was good but unfortunately the other heat was quite a bit slower and that would have suited me better,” she said.
She added, “I do feel pretty emotional about the whole thing. This is the biggest competition I’ve been to and I’ve competed well at and I think I’ve done myself proud. I didn’t finish last and I beat a couple of athletes who have run under two minutes but I do wish I’d been in the other heat.”
This run was the second fastest ever by a Northern Ireland athlete with only Amanda Crowe’s 2:01.83 at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 ahead of her now and it can now only be a matter of time before Kirk claims that record.
“I’m still young and developing and hopefully that will come but I need races like that, I don’t get to run in big races like that or in the Diamond League and my dad told me this was my Diamond League and it was and it’s that sort of standard I need to compete against in order to get better.”
However after this race, Kirk, known as the girl who lit the Olympic caldron just over two years ago, will now be known as the talented athlete she undoubtedly is.
Meanwhile in the 200m semi-finals Leon Reid was 8th in 21:03 to miss out on the final.
In the men’s 40km road time trial Michael Hutchinson, who had finished fourth in the two previous Commonwealth Games, was 12th in a time of 52mins:05.64 just seven seconds ahead of Marcus Christie.
They were 4.23 and 4.30 respectively behind the winner Alex Dowsett from England.
Norik Koczarian was beaten 3-0 in his last 16 contest in the men’s freestyle 65kg category by Mehrdad Tarash of Australia.
Northern Ireland’s interest in the badminton at the Emirates Arena came to an end today.
In the last 16 of the men’s singles Tony Stephenson lost out to Wei Feng Chong of Malaysia 21-15, 21-10.
Tony Murphy went out at the same stage to Scotland’s Kieran Merriless 21-15, 21-8.
In the mixed doubles Stephenson and Caroline Black were beaten in the last 16 by Canadian pair – Alex Bruce and Toby Ng – 21-17, 21-13.
Finally Stephenson and Murphy were beaten in the last 16 of the men’s doubles by top English pairing Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis.
After his busy day Stephenson commented, “I did better than I expected to, I kept up with my opponent quite well and had one of the best matches of my life. The team has played amazing so far and it is the best we have ever done in the Commonwealth Games, two in the last 16 in Delhi and we have four in the last 16 here in Glasgow.”
Paul McCreery’s run in the men’s singles was halted in the second round by England’s Liam Pitchford who won their game 4-0 while Ashley Robinson was beaten by SK Achanta of India 4-0 also.
Peter Graham lost in the first round to Dexter St Louis of Trinidad and Tobago.
In the women’s doubles the partnership of Hannah Lynch-Dawson and Emma Ludlow made it to the second round where they lost to MS Patkan and S Kumaresan from India.
Amanda Mogey and Ashley Givan are into the third round, up at 09.30 in the morning, after a straight sets win over Roanna and Rosanna Abel from Vanuatu.
Madeline Perry and Michael Craig won their final round robin game in the mixed doubles squash by 2 games to 1 over Cameron Stafford and Marlene West from the Cayman Islands to make the knockout stages, but they lost out in the last 16 by a score of 2-1 to English pair Peter Barker and Alison Waters.
Women’s Pairs Quarter-final B, New Zealand vs Northern Ireland, (CUNNINGHAM Mandy, CAMERON Barbara) 10 – 14
Men’s Singles Quarter-final D, BURNETT Darren SCO vs McHUGH Martin NIR, 21 – 20