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Bowls: Gary Burke picks up first SMPT title at World Masters

Ray McClean

GARY BURKE scooped his first SMPT title when he won the Henselite World Masters in the BIBC stadium last weekend.

The Western zone player made a bright start in the final against Armagh's Andrew Leckey who trailed by five shots after three ends. The latter broke his duck on the fourth and eventually went into the final end only two shots in arrears. However, Burke drew second shot to cut his opponent down to a single to claim victory.

The new champion booked his final berth following a four-shot defeat of Oriel's Sean Conway while Leckey overcame Mid Tyrone's Martin McNicholl. However, Burke had to survive a tough encounter In the quarter-finals when he trailed Conway's son Kevin by three shots going into the final end. The Western man managed to level the scores and won on the extra end. Conway senior claimed the bronze medal when he defeated McNicholl by two shots.

Sweden's Jonas Hager defeated Jonathan Payne from Belgium in the shield final and Eddie Crawford overcame Gerard Moan by two shots in the plate decider. The 2 Bowls Masters pairs was won by Don McNamara of Spa Golf Club, who defeated Aidan Corrigan of Drumgor after a tie-break.

Although finishing empty-handed, Lisburn's Stephen Mulholland provided a lasting memory for the large crowd. The young Down's Syndrome player faced current world champion Raymond Stubbs in the plate competition and enthralled everyone with his performance which included verbally guiding his bowls towards their target.

He eventually triumphed by two shots and delightedly exchanged high-fives with practically everyone around the stadium. Despite another great performance in his next game Stephen went down by a single shot against Ciaran Green from Inch. It was certainly a day for him to remember.

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