IOM Pair Return To Athena Beach
When ISLE of MAN flat green bowlers Clive and Bernice McGreal saw their prospects of practice for the forthcoming World Cup in Australia devastated due to the flooding at the NSC, which has put out of commission the Island’s only indoor facility for their sport, they quickly assessed the alternatives before deciding upon a return to Cyprus where they competed as part of the Island team at the Atlantic Championships in December.
The Islands enjoy some common links and good relations between the bowling communities so when Bowls Cyprus, the governing body for Lawn Bowls, received the request from the Isle of Man at relatively short notice to set up some international opposition their response was overwhelming in drawing up a test series of international proportion from their talented squad which has qualified so successfully for the World Championships later this year in New Zealand.
The hosts arranged a series of Men’s and Ladies singles matches together with a number of mixed pairs games which included all their premier players and current champions.
The series of matches were played at the greens of the scenic Athena Beach Hotel in Paphos under splendid weather conditions, particularly hot and sunny for this time of the year where the more traditional outlook would have seen much more rain and lower temperatures than the solidary shower or two experienced over the past 3 weeks of competition.
The matches mainly were played under the sets format adopted by World Bowls for its major events with each match comprising 2 sets each played over 9 ends followed by a tie break of 3 ends where the set score is drawn.
In the mixed pairs series Cyprus put forward 3 separate pairings with husband and wife pairing Terry and Barbara Austin turning out on 4 occasions, Bob Manson partnering Fran Davis and Malcom Rowe partnering Linda Ryan each playing once. Each match was closely contested with play of a high standard amongst all bowlers on the very challenging surface which has generated its own reputation.
The Manx pairing lost the opening match soon after their arrival to Terry and Barbara Austin taking the ex-pat host pairing to a tie break. Thereafter Bernice and Clive put together a string of good performances to record a winning streak of 4 matches (2 against the Austins and 2 against the Manson/Davis, Rowe/Ryan pairings) before losing their lastl game against the Austins in a final end tie break. The overall result in this discipline being 4-2 in favour of the Manx pair.
In the Ladies Singles matches Bowls Cyprus made available their current Ladies Champion, Diane Roberts; previous champion Fran Davis and Barbara Austin (all members of their very successful ladies team at the recent Atlantic Championships and squad members for the forthcoming World Championships). Again each match being closely fought Bernice managed 2 wins against Diane Roberts with narrow losses against Fran Davis on 2 occasions and another against Barbara Austin.
In the men’s singles matches arranged by the hosts Clive faced some of the best bowlers available with Jim Preston (current Men’s Singles champion) Bob Manson (previous champion and World Championship qualifier from the Atlantic event), David Griffiths (national champion), together with Howard Davis and Terry Austin all proving to be stiff competition. Whilst a couple of the matches went to a tie break situation Clive managed to overcome each of his opponents to finish up with 5 victories.
Overall the series of matches proved successful for both Islands being essential preparation for the Manx duo in advance of their trip down under to the World Cup and also for members of the Cyprus Squad as they seek continued exposure international competition in readiness for their participation at the World Championships later this year.
An added bonus for Clive and Bernice came towards the end of their stay when a touring team from their native country, Builth Wells Bowls Club found themselves short of players for matches against local clubs Aliathon and Coral Bay providing both players some extra competitive matches and an opportunity to help out the tourists.
The Athena Beach Hotel bowling complex had a particular busy programme at this time of year with several crown green tournaments ongoing in addition to the visiting touring teams and regular hotel guest competitions therefore we are pleased to acknowledge the assistance and cooperation of the Hotel Bowls Co-ordinators Ann and Trevor Allman for their help in accommodating the matches during this period who also proved to be challenging opponents for Bernice & Clive who just managed to pip Ann and Trevor in their mixed pairs match taking the honours in a tie break decider.