Lawn bowler Sam Barkley admitted he had stage fright when first taking to the green at the Commonwealth Games but is now ready to go again after defeat in the men’s pairs bronze medal match with Martin McHugh.
Northern Ireland duo Barkley and McHugh were well-beaten 25-5 by Scottish duo Alex Marshall and Paul Foster in Leamington Spa to just miss out on a medal.
But 23-year-old Barkley believes he’s now ready to go for another medal as he plays again in the men’s four competition.
“It’s been a brilliant [run to the bronze medal match],” said Barkley.
“Especially for myself, first Commonwealth Games, to get that far – wow. Especially the first discipline but we just must move on.
“Looking back to the first game we played against Norfolk [Island], I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
“The crowd got me, the stage got me, but I’m settled and ready to go again, it doesn’t bother me now.”
Barkley and McHugh never got going against Marshall and Foster, who now boast 13 Commonwealth medals between them across six Games, quickly falling behind 15-2 within seven ends.
The pair put up a valiant fight as they chased what would have been Northern Ireland’s 12th bronze medal in lawn bowls.
But McHugh, who is competing at his seventh Games, admitted that they came up against two of the very best in the game.
“Alex and Paul are two great ambassadors for the game, and they’ve shown that again today,” reflected McHugh.
“I feel sorry for Sam, Sam played well today but trying to play those shots it makes you look bad but full credit to the two boys, they played well, and we move onto the fours.”
This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 100 athletes, all vying for medal success.
The duo had no time to sulk, as they teamed up with Ian McClure and Adam McKeown in the fours, with McHugh hoping for a repeat of his gold medal in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.
But the quartet got off to a difficult start, losing 13-12 against Canada, meaning they have almost must win games against Australia and Niue.
Elsewhere in Leamington Spa, women’s pair Shauna O’Neill and Megan Devlin suffered an agonising end defeat to England duo Amy Pharaoh and Sophie Tolchard, being edged out 14-13.
But it was success for Gary Kelly, who got his men’s singles campaign off to the perfect start with a 21-12 victory of Ryan Dixon from Norfolk Island.
And the women’s triples team of Ashleigh Rainey, Chloe Wilson, and Courtney Meneely got their campaign off to a perfect start, following up a 22-10 defeat of the Falkland Islands with a 15-14 win over South Africa.
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