The first day of the European closed championships began today with the men’s 680kilo competition. Nine team entered.
Ireland began well by overcoming the Germans in the first pull of the day. They followed that up with wins against Wales, England, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy & Belgium to qualify for the semi finals in second palce. In the semis Ireland were drawn against the reigning World Games champions at 680kilo, the Netherlands. Some fine pulling from the Irish men ensured a place in the final with a straight end victory. Switzerland overcame Germany to join them in the final.
There was a great atmosphere in the stadium at this stage and a huge Irish support. The Irish team produced some outstanding pulling to win the gold medal with a straight end victory and were crowned champions of Europe at 680kilo. The winning Irish team was, Donal Conroy, Paul Rowland, Donal Ward, Connell Ward, Gerard Ferguson, Gerry McEneaney, Mark Bergin, Frank Egan and Robert Kehoe. Germany defeated the Netherlands to win the bronze medal.
In the afternoon a combination of 6 Killylough men, and a puller each from Gortletteragh, Boley & Fairywater represented Ireland at 600kg. The Irish got of to a bad start and entered the final pull of the league system needing maximum points from neighbours, Northern Ireland. Ireland dug very deep to pull off the victory to qualify for the last four. There they met England who were much too strong for the Irish team who were now in a fight for the bronze medal with the Netherlands who lost out to Switzerland in the second semi final. The bronze medal pull-off was a very tough pull with Ireland nicking the second end to bring the contest to a third and deciding pull. The Irish were unfortunate to loose the toss for choice of ends and it was the Netherlands who just did enough to take the medal with Ireland finishing in fourth place. The strong English team represented by Norton overcame the Swiss to win the gold medal.