Otago Daily Times

Mcil­roy claims fifth ti­tle

BOWLS Re­sults

- WAYNE PAR­SONS Sports · Canterbury · Stoke City F.C. · Stoke-on-Trent · Palmerston North · Australia · Canterbury · Wellington, New Zealand · Jim Scott

DRAG­GING the jack into the ditch to score three shots broke the dead­lock and set up world sin­gles cham­pion Shannon McIl­roy for an un­prece­dented fifth ti­tle at the North East Val­ley 10,000 yes­ter­day.

Af­ter McIl­roy jumped out to an eight­shot lead against fel­low Black Jack An­drew Kelly (Can­ter­bury) fol­low­ing just four ends, Kelly re­dis­cov­ered the form that eluded him in the open­ing rounds when McIl­roy was hom­ing in on the jack at will, forc­ing his op­po­nent into er­ror.

Drop­ping four shots to McIl­roy (Nel­son) on a re­play of the third end spurred Kelly into ac­tion and he closed the game up to 8­8 over the next four ends.

The two then went shot for shot over the next six ends un­til McIl­roy's de­mo­li­tion of the jack on the 14th end, and he backed up with another three shots on the 15th end and a sin­gle on the 16th to sit on match point.

It took another three ends but McIl­roy pre­vailed, 21­17.

Both play­ers were se­lected in the world cham­pi­onship squad ear­lier this year, but the tour­na­ment re­mains another vic­tim of Covid­ 19.

The only plus is that McIl­roy gets to hold on to the world sin­gles ti­tle for a while longer be­fore hav­ing to de­fend it.

McIl­roy (33), a con­tract painter from Stoke, first won the ti­tle as a teenager in 2006.

His other vic­to­ries were in 2009, 2012 and last year.

His win yes­ter­day meant he be­came just the fourth player in the event’s 30­year his­tory to go back to back fol­low­ing Jim Scott (North East Val­ley) in 2000­01, Rus­sell Meyer (Palmer­ston North) in 2004­05 and Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pion Aaron Wil­son (Cabra­matta, Aus­tralia) in 2017­18.

Af­ter be­ing tested by some of the emerg­ing tal­ent in the coun­try, McIl­roy said he might as well en­joy the time in the win­ner’s cir­cle be­fore they got the bet­ter of him.

“When I first won this ti­tle in 2006, it was a golden era for bowls. Now I look around and feel like one of the old guys,” he said at the pre­sen­ta­tion.

“I don't know about you guys

Quar­ter­fi­nals: Fin­bar McGuigan (Stokes Val­ley) 21, Shel­don Ba­grieHow­ley (Gore) 8; Shannon McIl­roy (Stoke Nel­son) 21, An­drew McLean (Taieri) 6; An­drew Kelly (Can­ter­bury) 21, Tom Ta­iaroa (South Can­ter­bury) 4; Caleb Hope (Stokes Val­ley) 21, Mur­ray Scott (Nel­son) 15.

Semi­fi­nals: Kelly 21, Hope 4; McIl­roy 21, McGuigan 16.

Fi­nal: Shannon McIl­roy (Stoke Nel­son) 21, An­drew Kelly (Can­ter­bury) 17.

but I feel bug­gered,” he added of not hav­ing played much over the past six months be­cause of Covid­19 re­stric­tions.

McIl­roy was full of praise for Fin­bar McGuighan (Stokes Val­ley, Welling­ton), against whom he had to dig deep to win 21­16 in the semi­fi­nal.

“The kid's go­ing to be good, isn't he?” he said.

“I like the way he plays and his at­ti­tude, de­meanour — fear­less. I need to try and win as many as I can be­fore play­ers like him come up and take over.”

McIl­roy added that it was about tak­ing his chances and play­ing his shots at the right time that got him through.

Kelly was full of re­spect for McIl­roy af­ter the fi­nal.

“Shannon is ob­vi­ously a world­class player and you al­ways know you're go­ing to have a ding­dong bat­tle when you come up against him,” he said.

McIl­roy and Kelly were the form play­ers through­out the Speight's­spon­sored tour­na­ment and, be­ing on op­po­site sides of the draw, both proved wor­thy fi­nal­ists, and will be bet­ter for the com­pe­ti­tion with events such as the Stoke Pairs next month and na­tional cham­pi­onships in Auck­land in Jan­uary.

The tour­na­ment proved a dou­ble cel­e­bra­tion for North East Val­ley Bowl­ing Club stal­warts Jim and Donna Scott.

They cel­e­brated their 30th wed­ding an­niver­sary as the tour­na­ment marked the same mile­stone.

Terry has re­mained one of the tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers since its in­cep­tion in 1990, while Donna is the driv­ing force be­ing the hearty meals pro­vided for the bowlers and all in­volved.

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 ?? PHOTO: PETER MCIN­TOSH ?? Fi­nal fo­cus . . . North East Val­ley 10,000 win­ner Shannon McIl­roy de­liv­ers a bowl in the fi­nal against An­drew Kelly at the North East Val­ley Bowl­ing Club yes­ter­day. McIl­roy won 21­17.
PHOTO: PETER MCIN­TOSH Fi­nal fo­cus . . . North East Val­ley 10,000 win­ner Shannon McIl­roy de­liv­ers a bowl in the fi­nal against An­drew Kelly at the North East Val­ley Bowl­ing Club yes­ter­day. McIl­roy won 21­17.
 ??  ?? An­drew Kelly
An­drew Kelly

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