Bowling Club to miss out on hosting international event due to flags unrest

BALLYMENA Bowling Club is to miss out on staging a prestigious international competition as a result of the violence surrounding the ongoing flags protest in Northern Ireland, Times Sport can reveal.

Thursday, 14th February 2013, 12:00 pm

The Old Ballymoney Road club had been due to host the women’s under-25 Junior International Series and British Isles Championships from July 20-22.

However, the sport’s governing body, the British Isles Women’s Bowls Council, has now switched the tournament to Leamington Spa in England after it is understood that a number of the mainland nations expressed reservations about the safety of travelling to Northern Ireland as a result of the ongoing civil unrest.

The decision has been greeted with anger and disappointment by Ballymena club officials, who had already begun preparations for the event.

“It is a big, big disappoint for us,” club secretary Joe McKeown told Times Sport.

“We had arranged for extra work to be done on the greens, beyond what we would normally do, so as they would be in first class condition for this tournament.

“As well as that, there has been the extra cost of arranging seating and toilets – there are so many aspects to it.

“We have hosted this event twice before, in 2003 and 2007, and we have received very favourable comments from the organisers both times.

“At this stage we’re being told that the tournament will come back to Ireland next year but there is no guarantee that will necessarily mean Ballymena and the club is writing to the British Isles Council to express its disappointment and concern at this decision.

“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances but we feel we are the innocent victims in a situation that is absolutely nothing to do with us,” added Joe.

The decision has also affected two of Ballymena Bowling Club’s lady bowlers who are in the Irish squad, with Megan Wilson and Sile Garvey having been looking forward to competing in front of their home crowd.