A Donegal man has led Ireland to an historic first Indoor Short Mat Bowls World Cup title.
PJ Gallagher from Dungloe, a member of the Burtonport Bowling Club, was captain of the four person Irish team that were crowned Bowls Trader World Cup champions in the Bromsgrove Indoor Bowling Centre in Birmingham on Friday.
The other members of the Irish team were the husband and wife combination of Pauline and Joe Beattie, and Tony Bell.
Gallagher was the only Donegal man on the team; the other three are all from Armagh.
“It is brilliant and being honest it hasn’t sunk in yet,” PJ Gallagher told the Democrat.
“It is a huge achievement and is a massive boost for the game in Ireland and will hopefully raise the profile of the game all over the country.
“On a personal level, I’m really delighted and being captain was a bonus. I was only captain by default after Mark Beattie, the captain, was forced to withdraw due to a family bereavement. Mark is from Sion Mills.
“It was a great honour to be captain of the first Irish winners.”
Ireland defeated Norway and Sweden and lost to Wales in the group stages.
But they qualified from their group along with Sweden and defeated England (5-1) in the semi-final before defeating Sweden for the second time in the final.
“We pipped Wales for a place in the knockout stages by half a point which was a fine margin.
“But we went on to beat England and Sweden well to win the final.”
Sweden had seen off the challenge of Belgium (4-2) in their semi-final. Ireland were convincing (5-1) winners in the final.
Gallagher was the only member of the Irish team to win all of his five games in the tournament.
England and Belgium had qualified from a group which also included the Isle of Man and the Rest of the World Selection.
The Short Mat Championship is a relatively new competition but has grown in popularity in recent seasons and the World Cup is now seen as the leading competition on the the Short Mat World tour.
Gallagher also competed in the English Masters Championship on Saturday, also in the Bromsgrove Centre.
He reached the last 32 before losing out to last year’s Masters winner.