Dunbarton bowler Pete Convery agonisingly missed out on his first Irish title on Saturday.
Having defeated Nicky McCaw from Ballymoney in the semi final, the Gilford bowler had the unenviable task of facing Marty McHugh (Whitehead) in the final to lift the coveted trophy.
Despite a terrific effort, it was McHugh who emerged victorious, remarkably for the sixth time.
In the semi final, Pete showed no signs of nerves despite having not played in the Irish Championships before as he stormed ahead 7-3, thanks to a maximum four on the fifth end.
However, McCaw bounced back with a run of 1,1,2,2 to lead 79 only for Pete to move up the gears. Seven ends in a row were won with scores of 2,1,2,2,1,1,1 and a 19-10 lead was built up as Pete was nearing the finish line. Two ends later it was all over as a double saw Pete win convincingly 21-11.
Most people in the game would view McHugh as the best singles player in the country and the fact that this was his seventh Irish final would back that up. In some ways Pete had nothing to lose as McHugh was a strong favourite but the Dunbarton star was determined to upset the odds.
Over the early stages, it was Pete that found his weight better, however his Whitehead opponent used his potent drive to good effect and the scores were tied at 44. Over the next three ends, however, McHugh took control and despite Pete not playing that badly, he conceded scores of 2,4,2 to trail 4-12.
Unperturbed however, Pete won the next three ends to count a double and two singles and narrow the deficit to 8-12. As the game see-sawed, Pete fell further behind when he dropped scores of 2,1,2 over the next three ends and the game looked all over bar the shouting. Once again, Pete showed great character and four winning ends cut McHugh’s lead to 13-17.
But McHugh showed yet again why he has won the trophy so often with a superb last bowl to count a double and go two shots from glory. And despite a single on the next end for Pete, it was all over on the following end as McHugh secured a double
This was a valiant effort by Pete who played extremely well. Indeed, few people would have defeated the Gilford stary but ultimately McHugh was just too good.
Nonetheless, a great achievement for the local man.