The fourth Celtic Challenge returned to where it all began three years ago, as the CISWO Club, Glenrothes hosted the latest outing of this event as Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales gathered to play in this tri-nation spectacle.
Scotland Ladies were on tremendous form and fought out a tough 3-3 draw with Wales before defeating Northern Ireland 5-1 to successfully defend their Celtic Challenge title, winning for the third time in four years.
Scotland’s men however just faltered at the last hurdle as they drew 6-6 with Northern Ireland and defeated Wales 7-5. However as Northern Ireland defeated Wales 8-4 they took this year’ title, the first time a men’s team had ever won the championship away from home.
Friday – Celtic Challenge Singles
The weekend started with the Celtic Challenge Singles on the Friday night with Wales defending both titles. At the quarter final stage there were four Welsh men left in the competition and six ladies at the same stage.
In the men’s competition Scotland skipper Alan Soutar (33.40) defeated David Finlay (26.10) from Northern Ireland, Welshman Jim Williams (32.67) had a 3-0 victory over countryman Mark Blandford (26.03), Kyle McKinstry (34.47) from Northern Ireland defeated Wayne Davies (23.57) from Wales and finally Scottish debutante Craig Owens (28.37) got the better of Welsh player Dale Hughes (23.87) in straight legs.
Williams (28.37) defeated Soutar (27.57) 3-0 in the first semi-final and would be joined in the final by Kyle McKinstry (29.27) who took out Craig Owens (28.53 by the odd leg in five.
In a cracking final which went all the way to 4-4 Williams (30.57) took the title in the deciding leg against McKinstry (32.80).
The first ladies quarter final was an all-Wales affair and was won 3-1 by Chris Savvery (19.20) who took out Kaye Hayles (18.53), again in the next match both players came from Wales as Natalie Evans (20.04) defeated Katie Bellerby (21.13), the third quarter final featured the final two Welsh players with Rhian O’Sullivan (25.30) getting the better of Alannah Waters Evans in a deciding leg, and finally an all-Scottish match with Lorraine Hyde (20.20) knocking out her team captain Susannah McGimpsey (20.97), 3-2.
Savvery (19.87), the 2018 champion, defeated Evans (21.13) 3-1 to progress to the final where she would meet O’Sullivan (23.90), who had a 3-1 win over Hyde (19.93), checking out the winning leg in style on 101.
With both ladies representing Wales in the final they were guaranteed four consecutive titles and this year the winner was Rhian O’Sullivan (22.90) who defeated Chris Savvery (21.37) 4-2.
Saturday – Wales Ladies (20.36) 3 v 3 Scotland Ladies (19.33)
The first match on stage on Saturday involved defending ladies’ champions Scotland against Wales. Scotland raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to wins from Chelsea McMahon (18.56) and Scotland captain Susanna McGimpsey (21.80) over Kaye Hayles (17.00) and Alannah Waters Evans (21.23) respectively.
Wales bounced back immediately with wins from their captain Rhian O Sullivan (26.37) and Chris Savvery (20.03) over Lorraine Hyde (24.06) and Lynsey Ward (18.00) respectively.
Steph Gilmour (16.30) ensured at least a share of the points for Scotland by defeating Katie Bellerby (17.93) 3-2, before Ann-Marie Potts (21.76) tied up the match for Wales at 3-3 with a victory over Louise Hepburn (19.57).
Welsh player Katie Bellerby and Lynsey Ward from Scotland both hit maximums with Bellerby having the top checkout in the match with 100.
Saturday – Scotland Men (26.43) 6 v 6 Northern Ireland Men (27.00)
Debut player Matt Goldie (22.53) opened for Scotland but lost out 4-2 to Josh Rock (26.23). Matt had a 114 checkout and Josh hit a 180.
Also making his debut for the Scots was Craig Owens (30.17) who started in style with a 12-dart leg and a 121 checkout. The game went all the way but despite a 180 in the last leg Craig lost 4-3 against Chris Gilliland (31.23) who hit two maximums and a 100 checkout.
With the help of a 118 checkout Scotland’s Alex Jeffery (24.63) closed the gap defeating Andrew Coulter (24.10) in the third leg.
Colin Millar (27.30) tied up the match at 2-2, winning the first leg with a 180 and a 161 checkout and going on to win over David Finlay (30.36), who hit four maximums.
Scotland edged ahead in the match for the first time as Scott Robertson (27.20) defeated Jason Lockhart (27.50) 4-1.
The match was tied up at 3-3 at the halfway stage as Scotland’s captain Alan Soutar (31.00) lost 4-2 against Daniel MacDonald (29.63).
Northern Ireland started the second half of the match well as Neil Duff (28.70) took the set 4-2 against Jim McEwan (26.33) despite a fine 161 checkout from Jim.
Ross Montgomery (27.37), the current WDF No.1 player and playing in his 68th match for Scotland, pulled Scotland back level again with a 4-1 win over Raymond Williamson (27.03).
Once again Northern Ireland took the initiative as Kyle McKinstry (27.60) defeated Bruce Montgomery (26.90) 4-1 to edge his side in front but equally as quickly Alan Small (26.37) hauled Scotland back to 5-5 after ten sets with a 4-0 win against Paddy McGinnis (21.00).
In the eleventh set Northern Ireland’s Gary Elliott (31.97) took them into a 6-5 lead with a 4-1 win over Cameron Menzies (30.43).
The final set was a nervous affair but Euan Callander (20.46) managed to take the leg 4-1 against Simon Dunn (19.70) 4-1 to give Scotland a share of the match at 6-6.
Saturday – Northern Ireland (17.70) 2 v 4 Wales (20.16)
Grace Crane (22.76) got Northern Ireland off to a fine start with a 3-0 victory over Katie Bellerby (21.03) but successive wins for Alannah Waters Evans (20.86) and Ann Marie Potts (20.93) over Elaine Moran (15.80) and Helen Dunn (18.47) respectively gave the Welsh ladies a 2-1 lead in the match.
Wales added the fourth set to make it 3-1 through Rhiann O’Sullivan (25.47) who defeated Jackie O’Neill (14.33) 3-0.
Northern Ireland staged a comeback in the fifth leg as Kayleigh O’Neill (19.87) reduced the deficit to a single leg going into the final set by beating Chris Savvery (18.43), 3-1.
But their hopes were dashed as Kaye Hales (17.36) wrapped up the match for Wales defeating Sheila Hamill (15.13) 3-1.
Sunday – Northern Ireland (27.00) Men 8 v 4 Wales Men (26.76)
Neil Duff (31.76) set the ball rolling for Northern Ireland with a 4-1 win against Mark Blandford (28.66) in a match which included three maximums for Blandford and a 108 checkout in leg three for Duff.
Andrew Coulter (25.46) carried on the good work for Northern Ireland with a 4-1 victory over Andy Alker (24.93), and Simon Dunn (27.00) made it 3-0 after his 4-2 win over David Rogers (25.56).
There was no stopping Northern Ireland now as they added two more matches to go 5-0 up after wins from Chris Gilliland (28.83) and Jason Lockhart (23.36) over debut player Cavan Phillips (28.96) and Lloyd Browning (19.80) respectively.
Wales finally got their names on the scoreboard when Michael Warburton (25.50) defeated Josh Rock (21.46), 4-1.
Northern Ireland skipper Kyle McKinstry (31.50) was on next and he guaranteed the draw with a 4-1 win over John Williams Jones (27.96).
Wales countered through Jim Williams (30.76) who defeated Daniel McDonald (30.03) 4-2 and hit a 180 and 177 in the process.
Gary Elliott (28.60) had a checkout of 114 in his 4-2 victory over Wayne Davies (27.73) and David Finlay (25.60), hitting three maximums, took the scoreline to 8-2 with a win over Gareth Griffith (26.43).
Welsh captain Mark Layton (26.36) won Wales their third set with a 4-0 whitewash of Raymie Williamson (24.80).
The final set of the match saw Paddy McGinnis (23.50) facing Welshman Dale Hughes (27.26) and it was the Welshman who took the set, finalising the match at 8-4 in Northern Ireland’s favour.
Sunday – Scotland Ladies (19.83) 5 v 1 Northern Ireland Ladies (19.13)
Going into the match Scotland knew that it would take either a 4-2 win with favourable leg difference or 5-1 for an outright championship victory.
Northern Ireland took the first set through Grace Crane (20.93), playing her 122nd match for her country, who defeated Steph Gilmour (18.63) 3-1.
Back came Scotland immediately as Chelsea McMahon (15.63) defeated Sheila Hamill, who hit a 180, (16.96), 3-0.
Lorraine Hyde (19.16) added to Scotland’s tally with a 3-1 win over Elaine Moran (18.56).
Scotland went further ahead as Emily Davidson (21.13) hit a 180 in her 3-0 victory over Kayleigh O’Neill (21.16).
Playing a skipper’s role Susannah McGimpsey (21.76) took the fifth set and the Player of the Match award with a 3-2 win over (Helen Dunn (18.40) despite Dunn’s 101 checkout, which was the best of the match.
Last on for Scotland was Louise Hepburn (19.53) and she rounded off a fantastic victory for the Scottish Ladies with a 3-0 win over Jackie O’Neill (19.23), meaning they had retained their Celtic Challenge title with a third win in four years.
Sunday - Wales Men (27.30) 5 v 7 Scotland Men (26.50)
Scotland started strongly as captain Alan Soutar (27.43) playing his 50th cap for Scotland, checking out on 160 on the way, defeated Wayne Davies (26.86), 4-1.
The defending nation were soon two ahead as new cap Craig Owens (24.46) beat John Williams Jones (25.43) 4-1 and it very quickly became 3-0 as another weekend debut player, Matt Goldie (30.23) defeated David Rogers (28.43) despite a 138 checkout from Rogers.
Scotland then lost a couple of sets as Alex Jeffery (26.16) and Alan Small (25.26) lost out to Dale Hughes (29.70) and Gareth Griffiths (31.30) respectively.
Back came Scotland again as Scott Robertson (28.10) defeated Welsh captain Mark Layton (22.76) 4-1, followed by a 4-3 victory for Euan Callander (27.53), which included a 154 checkout, over Welsh debutante Cavan Phillips (29.23) who had a 141 checkout.
The boys in blue were now leading 5-2 but Wales pulled it back to 5-4 with wins from Andy Alker (30.83) and Michael Warburton (30.50) against Colin Miller (26.40) and another debut player James Duncan (27.16).
Jim McEwan (28.16) ensured a draw for Scotland with a 4-2 win over Mark Blandford (24.63) but Scottish hopes were dashed in the eleventh set as Wales No 1. Jim Williams (30.06) ensured Scotland would be runners-up in the championship with a 4-2 win over Ross Montgomery (25.13).
Grampian’s Bruce Montgomery (21.33) confirmed a 7-5 victory over Wales with his 4-0 defeat of Lloyd Browning (19.63) in the final set.