Bowler Gary Kelly into Commonwealth knockouts after dominating his group

·2-min read
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 08:  Gary Kelly of Ireland looks to bowl during the World Bowls Series on December 8, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 08: Gary Kelly of Ireland looks to bowl during the World Bowls Series on December 8, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

By James Reid at Victoria Park, Leamington Spa

Bowler Gary Kelly hopes he can take his early form in the Commonwealth Games men’s singles into the knockout stages, after romping through his group with four wins from four.

Kelly wrapped up a perfect start to his singles campaign, with wins against Niue’s Tukala Matua Leomotu Tagelagi and Canada’s Ryan Bester to top the section and set up a quarter final with South Africa’s Jason Evans.

The 33-year-old was in dominant form in Leamington Spa and admitted that it could not have started much better for the Ballymoney man.

“Four out of four, it can’t get any better,” said Kelly. “But it was just about playing well and getting through.

“There are so many great players, I’ve got to take confidence from the four victories and go from there.

“It’s just nice to play reasonably well and reasonably consistent, I’m just thankful to get the four wins and get through qualification.”

Kelly was in pole position to qualify on Thursday morning after beating Ryan Dixon of Norfolk Island and Wales’ Daniel Salmon on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The victory over Salmon was particularly notable for Kelly, as the Welshman came into the singles competition fresh from claiming gold in the men’s pairs.

And Kelly, who lives and plays in Australia, was especially pleased with his early matches to take control of the section.

“First two games I was pretty happy with my performance throughout the whole game, the last two,” said Kelly, who took bronze in the singles at the 2010 Games in Delhi.

“I started a little bit slow but thankfully found my groove and played well from there on in.

“Overall, reasonably happy with my form and hopefully I can take it into the knockouts.”

However, there will be no medal for the women’s triples, as Courtney Meneely, Chloe Wilson, and Ashleigh Rainey were beaten 25-11 by England’s Natalie Chestney, Sian Honnor, and Jamie-Lea Winch.

The trio had battled through the groups to progress ahead of South Africa but came unstuck against an accomplished England team on home soil.

It means Kelly is now the only Northern Irish hope left in lawn bowls other than the men’s fours, who face a Scotland side that boast 15 Commonwealth medals, including the legendary pair of Alex “Tattie” Marshall and Paul Foster.

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