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Lancashire battle for England glory
9:18am Thursday 26th September 2013 in Sport
LANCASHIRE make their fourth successive appearance and fifth in six years in the English Men's County Championship finals at Gloucestershire club Minchinhampton which start on Friday.
The Red Rose men, who won the northern qualifier at Manchester in June, claimed the title in 2008 and 2010, were runners-up last year and finished third in 2011.
They will face stiff opposition from the other regional winners, Devon, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands, and Leicestershire & Rutland.
But Lancashire, with skipper Paul Williams at the helm, are the form team, having retained the Daily Telegraph Northern Counties League with a 100 per cent record, and victory this week will ensure their second "grand slam" in seven years.
Williams said: "I'm optimistic. We're well prepared and we came down here a day early to familiarise ourselves with the course. The lads are up for it.
We have so much quality in our side."
The line-up includes county champion Haydn McCullen and several players who have appeared in their previous finals, such as John Carroll, Paul Howard, Sean Towndrow and Mark Young.
McCullen, an England boy international, is also the county's boy champion, while Howard was capped by England in the recent Home Internationals at Ganton.
And Young, who plays of a staggering plus 5.2 handicap, has broken all Cleveland Srixon Northern Order of Merit records this season with nine victories.
The County Finals are played on a round robin basis over the three days. In the first round of matches, Lancashire face Leicestershire & Rutland while Devon meet Hampshire, IoW & CI.
LANCASHRE: John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot), Ciaran Doherty (Bury), Paul Howard (S&A), Haydn McCullen (Delamere Forest), Paul Kinnear (Formby), Sean Towndrow ( S&A), Mark Young (Longridge).