The Dunbarton triple of David Copeland, Conor McCartan and DJ Wilson are the new Irish Triples champions.
With a superb display in both semi-final and final at Larne BC, the locals outgunned the Dunluce triple skipped by Barry Kane in the semi-final and then got the better of Aaron O’Keefe’s neighbouring Banbridge triple in the final.
Having won the Private Greens triples one month earlier, the Gilford men were full of confidence going into their semi final but knew that they would have to be on top of their game if they were to win a much coveted Irish title.
In the semi final, the locals had a very tough task facing them in the form of Rodney Kane, Brian Smith and Irish International skip Barry Kane from Dunluce.
Skip DJ was part of the victorious Dunbarton team that won the Larne Super 8 competition the previous week and he and his front two adjusted to the very quick Larne green right from the off. Scores of 3 and 2 meant an early 5-0 lead and this was soon extended to 10-3 after eight ends.
Another strong end resulted in a count of 3 and a ten shot lead at the halfway mark. During the second half of the game, the Dunluce triple did begin to apply pressure but on every occasion the locals repelled the danger. Ends 10-15 resulted in six singles, four for DJ’s men and two for their opponents and at 17-5, the North East bowlers shook hands with three ends remaining. A great victory but job only half done.
Earlier that morning, the Banbridge triple of Seamus Skelton, Eddie McCourt and Aaron O’Keefe had overcome J Dixon’s Meath triple in a closely fought battle so the Irish final was effectively going to be a local derby.
Unlike their semi final, the Dunbarton boys did not get off to a flyer as the scores were locked at 3-3 after 4 ends. Banbridge skip O’Keefe was is in tremendous form and he led his triple into a 4-9 lead after eight ends. The ninth end proved pivotal as Dunbarton second Conor played three terrific bowls, resulting in a count of five and suddenly the scores were locked at the midpoint.
By end 13, the Gilford men had got their noses in front at 13-11 and looked to have momentum as they lay a further three shots with one bowl remaining.
O’Keefe however had other ideas and produced a magnificent draw to score shot and only one shot separated the triples with 4 to play. Similarly to end 9, end 15 was the game changer as Banbridge lay one shot with just DJ’s final delivery to come. This time it was DJ’s turn to step into the limelight as playing with two yards of weight, the Dunbarton Irish international, planted his bowl onto the shot bowl for a crucial count of five shots and suddenly the Gilford men had daylight at 18-12 with three to play. It was then the turn of Dunbarton’s Conor McCartan to get in on the act and three terrific deliveries built a strong head for his team mates, eventually resulting in a count of three and the game was pretty much won. Credit to skip O’Keefe again who did not give up and produced yet another fine delivery on the penultimate end to score a three and take the game to the last end, 21-15 with one to play. Dunbarton lead David Copeland who was in oustanding form all day produced another fine three bowls and the Private Greens champions never liked losing six shots or more. Despite another accurate strike by O’Keefe with his bowl, the Gilford men scored one shot and scenes of jubilation erupted. A terrific effort by the three Dunbarton bowlers who paid credit to the Banbridge triple for giving them such a close battle and at the same time, playing the game in the spirit that bowls should be played.
It’s off to Leamington Spa, next June when David, Conor and DJ will try to pull off a feat that no Dunbarton bowler has ever done – namely bring back a British Isles title to Dunbarton.