A local bowling rink said they were ‘over the moon’ to win the World Championship Fours at the weekend.
The All Saints Tullylish rink of DJ Wilson, Eddie Campbell, Jonny Wilson and Andy Leckey won the Fours at the World Championships in Leigh, outside Manchester, on Sunday.
Fourteen countries competed at the tournament, which took place from Friday to Sunday, which is held every two years.
Speaking to The LEADER, following their win, DJ Wilson commented: “It was quite a weekend, we’re over the moon.”
He continued: “To qualify you have to win at least one tournament in Northern Ireland and then win the Champion of Champions against all the Northern Ireland tournament winners to qualify for World Bowls.”
The cream of world bowling descended on Leigh as they competed in Singles. Pairs, Triples and Fours competitions.
In the Fours competition there were eight countries in one group and seven countries in another.
Some of the higher rated countries, such as Ireland and England, had two rinks in each group.
DJ and his rink were in the group with seven countries, as they aimed to reach the semi final.
DJ commented: “We played two games on Friday. Sweden were our first game and we took a 16-4 win. Then we met Scotland, where we got a good start, winning 16-7.
“On Saturday we played Belgium, winning 16-4 and then we had a tough game against England, which we won 9-7. It was a really close game.
“We were then 5-0 down against Norway in the last game, but we won 28-5.
“While that was happening, Wales beat England. Both Wales and us had won five games. The top two in each group get to the semi finals, with the second team in the group meeting the top team in the other group.
“The game was dead rubber as we were both through, but it also wasn’t as it decided our finishing places.
“We beat Wales 13-5 and that gave us a bit of confidence for the semi final and final.
“In the semi final we were against the other Welsh side, who are the current British Isles champions, so the competition was quite stiff.
“It was a really close semi final. We were one shot up at the last end. We were 8-7 up and then Andy Leckey, our skip, got the shot with the last bowl in the game for us to win 9-7. That wasn’t good for the nerves!
“That meant we played the English rink in the final, who had also won all their games, so it was a tough final.
“We started really well to go 5-0 up after 3 ends. We led from start to finish, we went 8-5 up and protected our lead to win 8-6,” DJ said.
“There was quite a bit of celebration at the end,” he added.
This was DJ’s fourth final - all against England - and the win makes it 2-2 with DJ having previously won the World Pairs with his brother Jonny.
“It was a very good championships, especially for Ireland,” DJ said. “Ireland also won the Triples and Singles.
“It was a great weekend, it could not have gone any better, especially to win with this rink. We’re all clubmates and all friends. It was brilliant to be there with my brother and two of my best friends.”
DJ said that it is always sweeter to win in England, with the Irish bowlers having to change their bowling style on the faster mats they use there.
“Ireland are always at a disadvantage as the mats are an awful lot quicker,” DJ explained., “It’s much more difficult for the Irish as you have to change the way you stand or deliver the bowls.
“We’re not used to playing those sort of mats so it’s always a challenge, but it makes it all the sweeter when you win.”
The local bowler said he was ‘over the moon’ with the win.
“I’ve been playing bowls for 32 years, so there has been a lot of time and effort put in and it’s refreshing when you can win the biggest competition in the sport. You can’t go any higher, it’s just a fantastic feeling.
“The next World Championships is in Sweden in 2018. That would be a nice trip to get to, but it’s so hard to win the Irish Champion of Champions.
“A lot of other countries pick their players, we literally have to earn our right to be there.”