The 77th DTL Home International and British Open saw Jim Doherty add another major to his growing list of wins this season and Ireland hold on to the team title
Five nations battled it out at Culbann CPC on 15-16 July, through rain and wind to decide who was to take the Home International team trophy for 2011 and who would be crowned British Open king.
Weather over the weekend proved temperamental, with rain showers coming and going. As the shooters began to arrive at the ground, there was real nervousness lingering, as the pressure of the event began to present itself. How would the nerves affect the shooting as the day went on? Would the unpredictability of the weather be another factor in deciding the winner of this illustrious event? The weather was certainly cause of an unpredictable tone over the Saturday, which saw the Home International take place, as shooters were unable to predict the conditions.
Shooting began first thing and on the whole, scores were impressive. It was England who drew first blood with regard to big scores; new cap Matt Wileman posted a fantastic 100/300. There were several other top scores posted, in the shape of 100/298s, scored by Ireland’s Jason Coffey and Northern Ireland’s Gordon McDowell to name but two.
In the Veteran contest Wales took control early on, with captain Mick McConville posting 98/294. However, despite this initial strength the Welshmen were edged out by Scotland and eventual Veteran winners England, after more consistent performances.
The Ladies competition drew up something of a surprise, with Northern Ireland taking top spot, despite having what was arguably the least-experienced squad of the five countries. Some brilliant shooting, in particular from captain Linda Irwin, 99/292, and a 99/291 from Angela Miller, meant the host country’s Ladies claimed the day’s Sue Morgan Challenge Cup.
The Junior competition saw the tightest contest of the day; Northern Ireland claimed the John Aston Challenge Cup, separated by a solitary point from England, with Wales only ten points behind, in third.
However, it was the Senior competition that became the major talking-point; the crowds gathered as the final points were tallied. The eventual winner of the Noble International Challenge cup and the Home International competition was Ireland, with Northern Ireland Runners-Up, a mere eight points behind.
Culbann was under siege from heavy rainfall for the British Open competition, held the following day. Increased cloud and rainfall saw trickier conditions for shooters, playing havoc with lighting and concentration. However, it also meant there was next to no wind, making the targets there to be shot and big scores were expected.
Once again shooting began early on, with competitors trying to judge suitable breaks in the rain in an effort to produce their best performances. However, this proved tricky as the rain showers were frequent and often heavy.
As is traditional with this type of contest, despite the poor conditions, there are always scores which lead the pack, and this day was no different. Squad 25 saw not one but two 100/300 scores, from Irishmen James Henry and recent Krieghoff Classic winner Jim Doherty; more fantastic shooting in what was a superb weekend for the Ireland team. They were soon joined in the shoot-off by Scotsman Iain Hepburn, who made the 100/300 score look effortless.
The Junior event was another close encounter: Northern Ireland Junior, Aaron McDowell, was on top form, finishing on 100/296. However, he was joined in a shoot-off by Welsh Junior team member A Bidduph, who matched this score late on in the day. The pair shot-off in what was an incredibly tense final, only for McDowell to take the win towards the end of the line.
The fight for women’s British Open champion was largely a battle between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Northern Ireland Ladies’ team member Linda Campbell shot brilliantly, finishing with a personal best, 100/296; however she was pipped to the post by Ireland’s Bernadette Quinn, who held her nerve to come out on top with a superb 100/297.
Back to the contest for the British Open champion for 2011 and James Henry had dropped out of the shoot-off, leaving Scotsman Iain Hepburn to go head-to-head with favourite for the prize, Jim Doherty. In fading light but drier conditions, the pair went at it, only for the Irishman to continue his dominance and take away the top prize – well shot Jim!
After the separate British Open champions were decided on, the Mickey Wright cup was up for grabs, in a shoot-off consisting of British Open winner and Runner-Up, British Open Junior and British Open Lady. After the first round only Jim Doherty and Aaron McDowell remained.
Spectators would have been forgiven for thinking this would have been a forgone conclusion after Doherty’s performances over the weekend, but the youngster pushed him all the way, right to sudden-death targets. In the end Doherty’s vast experience counted for everything and despite a brave effort from McDowell, the Irishman took home the silverware.
So an event largely dominated by Ireland, with some success and some great shooting all round. Big congratulations must go to all those involved with the running of the events at Culbann; fantastic organisation made for a great weekend’s shooting.