"I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so." Horatio Nelson

Full House for SMPT Irish Open

The SMPT Irish Open will take place in Belfast on the 14th & 15th September but no Norfolk players will be taking part this year. The event has attracted a full field of 234 bowlers, 159 from Ireland, playing in 39 groups of six. Defending champion Raymond Stubbs of Ireland has been drawn in Group 20 where Hannah Cockrane will be aiming to impress again. Four time World Singles Champion Stephen Williams of Wales won the SMPT British Open in York in January and added the English Masters title at Chelmsford in February and no doubt he will be keen to add this title to his collection. Williams has been drawn in Group 24 along with five Irish bowlers including Angus Barnes. Alan Paul of Ireland, who won this title in both 2016 and 2017, is in Group 10 and will be confident of winning this group. Another main contender is Ireland’s Mark Beattie who lifted the SMPT UK Open in Chelmsford in August, he will be playing in a strong Group 1 that includes England’s James Trott and Keith Lackford. Group 2 includes Joseph Beattie and Ian Hobson of Ireland and Swedish star Joel Hager while Ireland’s Rachel Cochrane is in Group 14. Jonathan Payne of Belgium is in Group 15 where Andrew Jones of Wales could be his biggest threat. Group 26 is one to watch with Ireland’s Cecil Dillon & Suzanne Finlay, England’s Ed Sawbridge, Daniel Winmill & Tony Ealham and Alun Thomas of Wales all in action. Another great looking group is 38 where PJ Gallagher, Pauline Beattie & Ricky Cochrane are the front runners in an all Irish group. Former ESMBA Chairman Chris Hopkins of Northants is in Group 34 where Welsh bowler Chris McWhinnie could be his toughest opponent. Other big names are Christer Nordin of Sweden in Group 29, England’s Lee Toleman in Group 37 and England international Lawrence Moffat, representing Scotland, in Group 27. The United Arab Emirates are represented by four players, Norway by two and the Isle of Man by two. Emily Poulter of the USA is taking part as is Armin Stoll of Canada.