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British Open title delight at the double

BEST mates Gary McNabb and Steven Stafford made a very worthwhile trip to York last weekend where they both won British Open titles.

Fintona Pearses’ McNabb won the Short Mat Players Tour’s VerdeMat British Open outright with a 10-5 final victory over Tony Ealham, while Trillick’s Stafford claimed the Plate crown after overcoming Andrew Carr 12-10 in that decider.

McNabb’s victory continues a rich vein of form for the Mid Tyrone man, who won every game he played during the tournament, including all five group games to top his section.

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After that he entered the last-64 where he progressed with ease to set up an entertaining last-32 victory over top English bowler James Trott on the show mat. From there he produced an excellent performance to defeat highly regarded South Tyrone player Ian Hobson 10-5 in the last-16 before thumping Noel Graham 16-0 in the quarter-finals. He had to dig deep in the semi-final, coming from behind to edge out Mitchell Young in the last end after his opponent dropped five over the last two ends.

In the final there was no such drama as he led from start to finish against Ealham.

“It went very well,” beamed McNabb following his turbulent flight home during Storm Brendan on Monday.

“I went over with my best friend Steven Stafford so it was brilliant that I won the number one event and he won the number two!

“I was undefeated all weekend! I won all five group games to finish top but then I moved up a few gears for the knockout matches.

“A few wee rubs went my way against James Trott in the last-32 and that was the game that I knew if I won it, I’d go the whole way because I was on the back foot the whole way through it. After that I said ‘it’s mine to lose, so let’s go for it’!”

Stafford, meanwhile, just missed out on a place in the main knockout competition on shot difference following the group stage of the tournament on Saturday.

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He hit the ground running on Sunday, defeating Henning Borgersen 14-10 in the last-32 before coming through the last-16 and then defeating Peter Hore 12-6 in the quarter-finals.

That set up a semi-final clash with Greg Wade which he won in style, 12-5 before accounting for Carr in the decider to seal the Plate title.

Following the British Open, Ed Sawbrisge clings on to the World number one spot in the rankings by a single point from Sion Mills man Mark Beattie, who leads the Order of Merit standings, while McNabb is up to seventh and within touching distance ahead of the next event, the English Masters.

Mid Tyrone’s men’s team, meanwhile, compete in the quarter-final of the Plate this coming weekend after losing their grip on the Boomer Cup in the first round to Monaghan where they found themselves 19-0 down after four ends.

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