A YOUNG rising star in Old Bleach Bowling Club has proved his mettle as he claimed the U25 World Indoor Championship in Glasgow.
Coming from what is arguably turning into a veritable bowling dynasty, Robbie Kirkwood has established himself as in integral part of the longstanding club.
Robbie, his brother Steven and their father, Maurice all act as ‘skips’ for the Old Bleach senior team.
The young star is also a valued member of the club’s committee and an established junior international player.
After winning the Irish U25 title last year, Robbie was thrilled to go forward to represent Team Ireland in Glasgow.
Old Bleach is also home to Irish Bowling President, Freddy Anderson who made the trip with Robbie.
“Freddy and his wife came over so that was a great support and it was nice for Old Bleach to have that double representation,” Robbie said.
“The competition started out with group stages with seven in a group and the top two qualified for the semi-finals before going into the final.
“In the semi-final, I was up against a Commonwealth Gold medallist.
“As well as being a gold medallist, he actually beat me in an event last year so I definitely felt the nerves going up against him.
“There was definitely a score to be settled!
“I won the first set but Daniel won the second set so it was down to a tie-break which I thankfully won to get my place in the final.
“It was a similar situation in the final.
“It was a tough one from the off because Stephen, who I played was from Glasgow.”
Despite the fact that his skilled opponent had a ‘home advantage’, Robbie steeled himself for the showdown.
“I actually had already beaten him in the group stages so it was a bit like rubbing salt into the wound,” he laughed.
“Stephen won the first set but I came back to take the second and set up the tie-break.
“Obviously you’re nervous because it’s a huge deal but I felt like I had set myself up well and it was such an amazing feeling when I won.
“It really is incredible to come away with a world champion title.
“I went into it just hoping to do my best and see where I could go but I’m over the moon.”
And Robbie has nothing but praise for the club which has nurtured and supported him.
“Old Bleach has been fantastic,” he said. “The support really has been second to none.
“They were all on the phone, offering their congratulations and were genuinely so pleased.
“When I was down with the committee, they presented me with a gift and a lovely card which had been signed by everyone so I’m really touched and grateful for that support.”
Immediate past President, Davy Selfridge said that the Club was extremely proud of their young protogé.
“Robbie is a highly valued member of the Club, as are his brother and their father,” Davy told the Antrim Guardian.
“He is a talented and committed player who undoubtedly has a very bright future ahead of him.
“We are very proud to have him as a member of our club and we all extend our heartiest congratulations to him along with our very best wishes for the future.”