With a gold medal haul that exceeded expectations, Irish bowlers celebrated a marvellous weekend at the 14th European Championships hosted in Pesaro, Italy. On Sunday last, the final day of the championships, David Murphy in senior men, Carmel Ryan, senior women, Cian Shorten, boys U18 and Meghan Collins girls U18 won their respective categories and the performances of their teammates ensured that the Irish finished top in the team awards as well. There were thrills aplenty throughout the day and it wasnt until the final shots were thrown in many events that the eventual winners were known. The senior mens competition was an enthralling battle with each of the five competiting associations providing competitors of serious merit. The Irish had dominated in Cork in 2008 filling nine of the top ten places and they almost replicated that on this occasion when taking seven. Yet, for almost three hours, from the opening score, it was Dutchman, Arian Hassink, who led the way. Playing in Aidan Murphys group, Hassink totalled 1927.9 for his ten shots and it stood the test until score seven when Raymond Ryan finished in incredible style to beat his mark by forty. Prior to that, James ODonovan and Gary Daly had come desperately close but now an unprecedented clean sweep was within their grasp. Current champion, David Murphy, anchored the Irish team in the last score out and proceeded to show his class from the early shots. Having reached a point in five that had been unsurpassed all day, the Brinny man was soon in a position to retain his crown. This he did to the sustained applause of his contenental peers as he beat Ryans formidable mark by over a hundred metres. ODonovan, Daly, and Edmund Sexton followed Hassink on the leaderboard while Conor McGuigan and Christy Mullins were also in the top ten. Carmel Ryan, thanks in the main to 300 metre plus ninth throw, carded a magnificent 1796 metres for her ten shots and easily won the senior womens gold. The Dutch champion, Silke Tulk was left trailing almost 200 behind while Dervla Toal-Mallon claimed the bronze. Catriona Kidney in fifth, Geraldine Daly, 8th, Kelly Mallon 9th and Louise Collins 19th were good enough to give Bol Chumann the gold in the team awards. Cian Shorten was another to rise to the occasion. His 1918 in boys U18 was a magnificent performance and with Ethan Rafferty claiming silver, Brian OHalloran and Cian boyle also performing well, another team gold was also won. Meghan Collins set the tone for the day. The Italian host association yearned for a medal and got it too with the diminutive Rosetti Roberta leading the way from the opening score in girls U18. In the final contest, the German FKV girl, Hannah JanBen, and Meghan Collins engaged in a tremenduos battle. The German just edged past the Italian but Collins pipped them both with a superb final throw that brought scenes of joy among her sizable Irish following. It would be the prelude to a marvellous day for the Irish.
On Saturday, at Campo Avizione, Fano, the Dutch Moors event brought glorious success for the Irish team. David Murphys brother Aidan was in scintillating form and needed to be in overcoming a very strong field particularly those among the Netherands NKB and German FKV teams. His blazing start with a 160 metre opening shot on the perfectly laid out course giving him early momentum. was followed by five more to the turnaround. Frank Goldenstein of FKV, the gold medal winner in German Loft in 2008, never gave up the chase but Murphy outlasted him by almost a hundred metres for first place on the podium. Rob Scholten of NKB was just a few metres back in third place. All the Irish men performed brilliantly. Eamonn Bowen followed in fourth, Wayne Calnan was fifth, Michael Murphy, sixth and Gary Daly seventh. A little further back were Edmund Sexton and James ODonovan giving Bol Chumann an unprecendented seven places in the top ten. Raymond Ryan and Conor McGuigan were good as well as the irish won the team event by over 300 metres. Silke Tulk, NKB, the favourite, won the senior women category by over twenty metres from Marina Kloster FKV while Catriona Kidney, an established performer at these championships, garnered bronze for the Irish. Kelly Mallon was fourth, Dervla Toal-Mallon tenth and Geraldine Daly and Louise Collins played well enough to give Ireland a bronze in the team category. Keno Voghts FKV one of the stars of the championships won the Dutch Moors boys U18 title. Cian Shorten at fifth was best of the Irish while Cian Boyle, Andrew OCallaghan and Brian OHalloran were well up the rankings but outside of the medal placings. In girls U18, FKV were winners as well as Louisa Friedrichs won gold. Emma Hickey at 6th Megan Collins 7th and Ciara Buckley 13th produced big perfromances and the girls were thrilled with a bronze medal placing in their category. On Friday in Pesaro stadium the Greman Loft event was as expected dominated by the German associations. Thorre Frollge FKV won senior men with a combined total of 259 for his three lofts. Michael Muprhy was best of the irish in 19th place followed by Killian Kingston in 20th. Gary Daly, Christy Mullins, James ODonovan and Aidan Murphy were in the top half ensuring the bronze ahead of the Dutch. Anke Redelfs won the senior ladies with Catriona Kidney 12th and Kelly Mallon 14th the best of the Irish who did not make the team medals. Keno Voghts won the boys U18 with Cian Shorten the best of the Irish in 7th. It was FKV too who won the girls U18 with Lena Stulke claiming individual gold. Ciara Buckley was best of the Irish in this discipline. It was a marvelous weekend in Pesaro. The parade of nations on Thursday was a joyous, colourful, march from the globe by the seaside through the cobbled streets to the magnificent town square. Here Chairman of the International Bowlplaying Association, Bol Chumanns James ODriscoll,was among those who adressed the thousand strong gathering. He said the roots of our sport are deep in European traditon. We are small. We are authentic. We are different. These are good things he said. Each and every bowler assembled for the 14th European Championships is a special ambassador for their region, their country, and for a noble sporting tradition. I trust my fellow bowlers to to carry that responsibility with dignity and respect. He hoped he would leave this arena of dreams with a sense that the common bond of European bowlers was strengthened. That we are individually and collectively stronger as a bowling community and that our sport can move on filled with confidence for its future. MR. ODriscolls hopes and ambitions were emmphatically realised in three magnificnet days of bowling in its variuos forms. On each day 115 competitors from five associations showed their skills. For the host ABIS association it was a triumph of organisation even if the competitions ran several hours over their alloted time. For Christy Mulins, Dan McCarthy, Geraldine Daly who prepared the competiting Irish teams, the event was a resounding success. Those in charge of the Irish associations, Susan Greene and Mick Nugent proclaimed their delight at the teams successes. It was an unforgettable visit to the beautiful Italian town, the birthplace of music maestro, Rossinni. The weather held up for the four days and, even if the tremors form the earthquake in Bologna sent a few scares on Sunday morning, the abiding memories will be of the preformances of the Irish on the bowling road in Fenille Fano later in the day. Photo Gallery contains pictures from all events.