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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
NI games struggle was no surprise
By John Haughey
BBC Sport

David Beattie secured Northern Ireland's second silver medal of the Commonwealth Games
David Beattie won silver in the two-day men's individual trap
Northern Ireland endured the country's worst Commonwealth Games performance since the 1962 Games in Perth when the Irish claimed a solitary bronze.

The team will come home with only two silver medals won by shooter David Beattie and the bowls triples of Jeremy Henry, Neil Booth and Mark McPeak.

Several others did go close to stepping on the rostrum but there's no doubt that it was a poor games for NI.

And needless to say, the post-games inquest is well under way.

However, the reality is the Northern Ireland's lack of medals should be little surprise.

Going into the games, the country's genuine medal prospects would have struggled to number into double figures.

Shooter David Calvert had won medals in five of his previous seven games but on this occasion, he had to settle for sixth-place in the full bore rifle pairs with partner Martin Millar before placing eighth in the individual event later in the games.

As it transpired, shooting did deliver a medal for Northern Ireland with Beattie going close to claiming the gold in the men's individual trap before having to settle for second place after a shoot-off.

James McIlroy
James McIlroy had a chastening experience in the 800m

As ever, Northern Ireland had high hopes of a medal-haul on the bowling green.

Henry, Booth and Graham duly delivered a silver in the men's triples but that's where the success ended.

Twice-Commonwealth gold medallist Margaret Johnston fought her way to the semi-finals of the singles but two defeats saw her finishing out of the medals.

After the Northern Ireland boxers' awful showing at the 2002 games in Manchester, team captain Eamon O'Kane vowed that medals would be won in Melbourne.

The boxing class of 2006 certainly produced a marked improvement with O'Kane, the two Hamill cousins Dermot and TJ, Paddy Barnes and Ryan Lindberg all progressing to the last eight.

However, all five bowed out at the last eight stage with Barnes' defeat particularly disappointing after he had led Swaziland's Simanga Shiba by six-points at the halfway stage of their bout.

Without a doubt, the biggest Northern Ireland disappointment of the game was James McIlroy's failure to even make the 800 metres final.

NI gymnast Katie Slader
Gymnast Katie Slader was 12th in the all-round final

McIlroy had spoken optimistically about his medal prospects before the games but once again, his brittle temperament at major championship level appeared to be his undoing at the MCG.

Also in the track and field arena, Zoe Brown, Anna Boyle and Ben Houghton performed creditably without ever being near to medal contention.

Arguably, the real success story of Northern Ireland's games was the impressive showing of the country's cyclists.

Michael Hutchinson and David McCann performed superbly to take fourth and fifth place in the men's time trial and Roger Aiken then finished a superb eighth in the concluding road race where McCann (12th) and Stephen Gallagher (13th) were also in the top-15.

Madeline Perry performed solidly in qualifying for the quarter-finals of the women's squash singles before losing against world number four Natalie Grinham while swimmer Andrew Bree produced a new personal best when equalling his fifth place finish from Manchester in the 200m breaststroke final.

Other noteworthy performances included Northern Ireland's ninth place finish in the team table tennis event, gymnast Katie Slader's impressive 12th in the all-round final and triathlete Gavin Noble's 15th placing.

However, those fine performances were obscured as the seemingly surprised news media worked itself up into a lather over Northern Ireland's lack of medals.





Links to more Commonwealth Games stories


 


SEE ALSO
Preparation is key for Saunders
27 Mar 06 |  Commonwealth Games
Missing medals
23 Mar 06 |  Commonwealth Games


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