Larne man Martin McHugh copperfastened his claim for a spot in Ireland’s world championships bowls squad by scooping the British Isles Singles title in Wales at the weekend.
This town’s current Sportsperson of the Year showed his class by toppling Welshman Jonathan Tomlinson in the final and it now looks increasingly likely that he will be in the Irish squad for November’s worlds in New Zealand.
McHugh was the star of the show at Llandrindrod Wells with the 43-year-old getting his hands on the Singles crown he won in 2003 and 2004.
“I’m over the moon,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone any better for me, starting with a good win (21-13) over England’s Ben Sherwin in the prelims.
“Michael Rive (Jersey) was a tough nut to crack in the semis. The scores were level going into the last end, but I manged to reel in a count of four.
“I produced another strong finish in the final against Tomlinson, picking up counts of three on the last two ends to run out 21-13 winner.”
McHugh wrote on Facebook: “Just would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to everyone who took the time to send their kind messages to me while I was over at the British Isles competition in Wales.
“I had Helen, Jorden, mum and dad over to see me win my third British Isles Singles and to say I was very emotional would be an understatement.
“I can’t thank them enough for sticking by me through thick and thin.
“I’d like also to say a big thank you to Gareth Pierpoint, Barry Kane and Barry Browne - you were outstanding”.
McHugh wasn’t the only Irish player popping the champagne because the team celebrated one of its most successful British campaigns. He was joined on the winner’s rostrum by Andy O’Keeffe, who lifted the Under-25 Singles title, while Rodney and Barry Kane won the Pairs crown.
It was Ireland’s best return at the British Championships for 37 years when they won the Singles, Pairs and Triples.