June Festival Preview
The first round of the Main June Festival kicks off today (Tuesday) and as always there is a host of local and visiting bowlers all vying to put their name on the coveted trophy.
Mark Hughes (Crossgates) has been in brilliant form in recent festivals and he will be hoping he can add the main crown to his tourism title. If he wants to progress though he will have to beat former winner Phil Kerruish (Onchan) in a very tricky opener. Fellow locals Rob Monk (North Ramsey) and Dave Hughes (South Ramsey) will be hoping to make a name for themselves and book a place in the last 8. This will be easier said than done with perennial favourite Ian Nicholson (Victoria) and a host of other talented visitors in the section.
There are more potential winners than I care to mention in the next 32 with Tommy King (Kirkham), Andrew Spragg (Calow BC), Danny Sillitoe (Maltby MW), Paul Bailey (Meersbrook) and Nigel Hughes (Wirral) all visitors with the class to go all the way. Stuart Garrett (Douglas) is the pick of the locals in this section and he can overcome the mammoth test of Bailey in the opener who knows how far he could go.
The next page has locals Colin Kelly (Marown), Peter Slinger (Onchan) and Trevor Quayle (Castletown) all hoping to go all the way and clinch the main crown. It wont be easy however with names such as Jack Dyson (Meersbrook BC), Mike Tunstall (Wirral) and Martin Gilpin (Victoria) in close company.
John Bailey (Llanrwst BC), Dave Jackson (Railway) and Callum Wraight (WEM USC) are three names that jump of the page to me in this section but when you look a lot closer there are a host of other players who could go a long way. Charlie Priestly (Goerge & Dragon) Mark Bramhall (Kirkham) and Kevin Quirk (Onchan) are all more than capable of booing a place in the last 8 if they hit their form.
Ballacashtal finalists John Kennish (South Ramsey) and Matthew Keggen (Onchan) lead the charge for the locals in the next 32 of the draw however they certainly won’t have things all their own way. Wayne ‘The Beast’ Ditchfield will be bookies favourite to get out of the section unscathed however there are plenty of talented giant slayers around in the form of Jack Hargreaves (George & Dragon), Kez Smith (Crossgates) and Chris Barton (Wirral).
Matt Gilmore (Wirral) and Barry Booth (Victoria) is an interesting first round match with the winner potentially going a long way. Matthew Kelly-Walley (Strettor) is no stranger to doing well in festivals and will be hoping this is his year. Glynn Hargraves (Onchan) and Phil Kelly (Marown) have both performed will in recent years and will be hoping that one of them is still alive and kicking come Friday.
Last years winner Neil Withers (Marown) will be hoping to emulate his 2013 success however he has the unenviable task of giving the field a 2 point start so progress to the latter stages, whilst not impossible, will be extremely tricky. Jordan Cain (Onchan) is in a rich vein of form at the moment and if he carries this with him into Festival week could certainly raise a few eyebrows. Robbie Fitzpatrick (Morton House) is just one of the many visitors who will by trying to halt the Manx march.
David Bradford (Onchan) is another local who could go a long way but like Withers is backed marked 2 chalks for his September success. Bradford is joined in the section by this Onchan team mate Matthew Quirk who fell at the final hurdle last year. Just like in all the other sections the last one is no different with too many potential winners to name but watch out for the ever present Richie Goddard (WEM USC) who always seems to bring his A game to the Isle of Man.