ALLOYS Timmerhuise, President of the International Bowling Association, has announced the postponement of the 16th European Championships.
The event was due to be staged from May 22nd-24th in the Heidi-Garding district within the province of Schleswig-Hostein, north Germany. Association VSHB, the smaller of Germany’s two bowling groupings, are hosts for the games and have made extensive preparations for the championships.
However, in light of the current international crisis relating to the spread of Covid-19, they have been left with no option but to cancel. The decision has been made following consultations with other competing associations, Ból Chumann na hEireann, FKV Germany, NKB Holland and ABIS Italy.
Mr Timmerhuise, speaking with James O’Driscoll of Ból Chumann, has revealed that a new date has been set for the championships and they will take place at the same venues on May 13th to 16th, 2021.
The cancellation, a first for these championships in their 50-year existence, is a serious setback for a great many in the bowling game, none more so than for the selected teams whose training and preparation programmes were at an advanced stage.
There had been a build-up in interest too among the general bowling public and preliminary plans were laid for large numbers of supporters to accompany the teams. All are now in abeyance until 2021. It is, of course, a totally unavoidable scenario and the hope is that the virus will pass without more serious implications.
It is disappointing that those selected will not get the opportunity to show their wares in north Germany in two months’ time. It promised a fiercely-competitive arena with Dutch and German camps exuding confidence too as we saw at the anniversary games last year. The Italians are also ever improving in their speciality which is road bowling, similar to ourselves.
The Irish teams had players in form who relished the challenge, big name operators in our own game who were ready to put rivalries aside in the common quest of securing Ireland’s place on the winner’s podium. Ireland’s senior men’s teams have in recent internationals been stand-out performers, ruling the roost in our own game, vying with the Dutch on the Moors for individual honours while taking team gold, and closing on the Germans when gaining bronze medal placings in the Loft. David Murphy’s triple gold on the road in successive championships was a particular highlight.
There was every indication that those selected for 2020 were primed for glory again. They showed their hand to an extent at the anniversary games last May when Martin Coppinger, blitzed the road and gave European champion Rob Scholten socks of it in the Moors event. He was closely followed on the podium by Aidan Murphy and Thomas Mackle. The Armagh man is missing from the current selection, but the line-up is laced with talent, everyone of whom had been showing terrific form in the practice sessions since the teams were selected.
Only the Murphy brothers, David and Aidan, and Eamonn Bowen remain from the ground-breaking team of 2008, but the momentum gained has transferred to subsequent internationals.
Ireland’s senior women and youths’ teams, who have also been outstanding ambassadors down through the years, have been no less diligent in their preparations for the upcoming games. For everyone this postponement is a setback but a very necessary one for the times we live in.
Fourteen months down the road a very different set of circumstances may prevail. Ideally, all those who have given so much to this campaign would be still available for selection while age parameters may come into play for youths’ teams.