Bowls: Daniel Gormley so close to Scots title

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Daniel Gormley experienced a heartbreaking last-bowl end to his bid for the junior singles title in the indoor bowls Scottish Championship Finals at Fraserburgh, but the rising star from Bainfield did himself and his strong Edinburgh and Lothians support proud.

The national title was within Gormley’s grasp on three nail-biting occasions, yet his name ended up in the record book as the 2015 runner-up after he was pipped at the post in an epic 21-20 battle that lasted 25 ends.

“I was only behind on three of the 25 ends, but obviously the most vital of these was the last one and, to be honest, the bowl that beat me came from another planet and was so wonderful I had to applaud it,” said Gormley.

The 22-year-old’s memorable weekend in a bitterly cold but welcoming Fraserburgh started with the semi-finals.

Gormley – who will soon make his debut for Junior Scotland – settled quickly to the demands of the high-profile occasion and got to grips with the challenges of a strange carpet. He made strong headway in his semi-final against Stuart Wyllie of Ayr to lead 8-4 after seven ends.

Wyllie showed good glimpses of form to bring his opponent under pressure at 10-10, but a 2, 1, 1 response from Gormley dealt with that challenge to lead 14-10. Then, when tested again at 14-14, he carded 1, 1, 3 to look good for the final at 19-14.

Gormley still had it to do though five ends later at 20-18, but he clinched his place in the showpiece with a single on end 25 to win 21-18.

The final pitched Gormley into an intriguing battle against John Fleming of Inverclyde, who had impressed with his commanding 21-15 win over semi-final opponent Michael Doyle of Dundee.

Gormley carded two shots on the opening end of the final, then Fleming sounded a warning by replying with a three that the Bainfield challenger answered with a purple patch run of 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1 to lead 10-3 after eight ends.

Fleming showed further signs of his competitive qualities with a run of four singles and full house count of four to haul himself back into the frame at 10-10, and five tit-for-tat ends later the final outcome was balanced on a 14-14 knife-edge.

Gormley made what looked like telling headway to lead 18-14, but Fleming peeled with a 1, 3 fight back. Then the Bainfield ace laid three for the title at the next, but was restricted to a single by a raker from his opponent that cleared out two of his shots.

Fleming hit the front for only the second time in the match when carding two shots to 20 at end 23, then drama at the next saw Gormley card a single but pass up the chance to add a second for the title.

“I held one shot sitting on the nose of the jack, but was overly cautious with my last bowl and fell short, influenced by the danger of springing the jack and giving game away,” explained Gormley.

That caution did seem worthwhile, however, when Gormley opened end 25 with a cracking draw to within a couple of inches of the jack, then wisely decided to avoid decorating it with his next three deliveries.

But a moment of torture lay ahead. It didn’t look likely as Fleming failed with his first three bowls. However, at 20-20 and with what had to be the final delivery, the Inverclyde challenger opted to draw rather than fire, resulting in a miraculous inch perfect delivery to snatch the title from Gormley’s grasp.

“I had no bowls left so my disappointment was immense, but I just took it on the chin as it was an out-of-this-world bowl from John that just had to be acknowledged,” he said. “Hopefully my turn will come at some point in the future.”

Bainfield suffered a double disappointment in the these championships with the 2Bowl Pairs partnership of Graham Pringle and James Hogg making a 2-1 exit in the semi-final stage to Gary Wilson and Jim Byron of Cumbernauld, who then lost 2-0 in the final to Jason and Colin Banks of Garioch.