The 24th Irish Open Tenpin Bowling Championships take place in Leisureplex Stillorgan this weekend, with a record number of bowlers making the trip from across the country and the world.
The championships are hosted in Stillorgan each year, but this year’s impressive entry can be put down to the introduction of a new top-of-the-range oiling machine which the centre purchased towards the end of 2011. The new machine allows the centre to create conditions which match the European and American bowling tours and has almost certainly helped with the influx of entries from abroad.
The tournament has a history of attracting the world’s top bowlers, with previous winners ranging from EBT legends Tomas Leanderson and Tore Torgersen to Europe’s newest world star, England’s Dominic Barrett, who has won the tournament in three of the last four years.
There has never been an Irish male winner in the event, something that many of our bowlers are desperate to amend. And there is a glimmer of hope for the locals, with the dominant Barrett not making the trip to defend his 2011 title due to other commitments. Irish men have gone close before, no more so than Alan Gibbons’ runner-up finish last year. He will be looking to go one better when the action kicks off on Thursday January 19th.
Others to watch out for locally are Irish Champion Alan Bride and regular finalist Graham Turner. There are plenty of other contenders, including young talent such as Simon English and EBT winner this year Paul Stott. All-in-all there is reason for optimism going into the event.
On the women’s side we have had some recent success, with Kerena Dykes winning in 2007 and again in 2009. Similar to the men’s section, the reigning female champion, Australia’s Cassie Staudinger, is not returning to defend her title this year. Dykes will not be the only female hope for Ireland going into the event, either. Irish champion Hannah Cullen will certainly be hoping to go all the way this year, and others such as Caitriona Mulhall could also use international experience to her advantage when the pressure is on this weekend.
Overall 2012 is an exciting year for the Irish Open Championships, with the tournament being sponsored by American giants Columbia 300. Columbia are one of the biggest names in tenpin bowling, making equipment brands such as Ebonite and Hammer, along with their own signature equipment. T
he involvement of such a prestigious company has added some real credibility to an event which is already steeped in history, and the strength of the field making the trip from overseas backs this up. Former champion Tore Torgersen is returning for the first time in several years to an event he has always excelled in, and former PBA American Tour bowler Brian Voss is making the long journey from the States to make his first appearance in the tournament.
To have a big name from the United States coming to the event speaks volumes for the reputation which this event has built up over the years, especially when you consider how small of a following tenpin bowling has at a competitive level in this country. It is the biggest event on the tenpin bowling calendar, and it always provides some world class action over the course of the weekend.
The event begins with the first squad at 14:30 on Thursday, January 19th, and runs all weekend to the 8-player round robin finals on the Sunday afternoon. If you are involved in tenpin bowling, or whether you simply are interested in coming down for a taste of the electric atmosphere, this one is not to be missed.