The 2014 season concluded last week and both of the Ballymena teams in action each recorded decisive wins to finish the season off in style.
Ballymena Seniors (97) Willowfield (58): Ballymena Seniors, who had won the NIPGL Senior League Division 1 title for the last 3 years, knew that no matter what the outcome of the game would be that they would finish in third place this time behind Belmont and league winners Dunbarton.
Last Wednesday night’s game against Willowfield had an end of season feel about it and the Braid men completed the fixture and the season with a comfortable win and 6 points.
Michael Wilson, Neal Garrett, Mark Torrington and Jim Baker certainly hit the ground running against K Drew and with the help of a count of 5 shots on the 4th end the Braid men were quickly in to an 11-0 lead. Four ends later the visitors had cut the deficit to 9 shots but Baker’s men moved up a gear over the next 8 ends and during this period the Ballymena rink amassed 17 shots without reply to race in to an unassailable lead, eventually winning 32-7.
J R Nicholl, George Graham, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman won 7 of the first 10 ends against M Leckey however the Braid men could only score 7 singles while the visitors picked up two 2’s and a 3 to leave the scores level at 7-7. The Braid men continued to have the upper hand and two counts of 3 shots and a count of 4 shots over the next 3 ends saw the home rink open up a deserved 10 shot advantage. Three ends later the margin had increased to 14 shots and when the 21 ends had been completed the scoreboard read 25-10 in Ballymena’s favour.
Steven Shields, Jimmy Hodges, Andrew Morrison and Andi Duncan started well against J Moore. The visitors could only win 3 of the opening 10 ends as the Braid men opened up a 12-4 advantage. Five shots over the next 2 ends got the visitors back in to the game but the Ballymena rink re-established a healthy lead when they scored 6 shots between the 13th and 15th ends and they eventually won 21-15.
There was a strange game where the normally reliable Ballymena rink of James Gaston, Graham Wilson, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson took on A Robinson. With 5 ends completed the game was level at 5-5 however over the next 6 ends the Ballymena men appeared to take control of the game when they scored a total of 13 unanswered shots and it looked as though they were well on their way to victory. The visitors however had other ideas and over the next 4 ends they reduced the arrears to 7 shots.
A single on the 16th end got the Ballymena side of the score board moving again however the Braid men had a horrendous last few ends when they conceded a total of 15 unanswered shots to go down 26-19.
Ballymena Senior Park (95) Belfast (54.5): Ballymena ripped the form book up in their final game with an excellent win against Belfast, claiming 6 of the 7 points on offer.
Jimmy Shields, John Montgomery, William Crawford and John Elliott made a good start against H Johnston on rink 1 and with 3 ends played they lead by 5 shots to 0. Five ends later however the visitors had cut the deficit to only 2 shots but the turning point in the game came over the next 4 ends when they outscored the Belfast men by 8 shots to 1 to open up a 9 shot advantage.
The remainder was evenly contested and in the end they were well worth their 22-14 win (Adjusted to 22-10.5 as the visitors could only field 3 players in their rink).
Jimmy Gage, Andy Hill, Robert McCready and Jim Cameron started like a house on fire against K Graham on and after 6 ends they had already established an 11-0 lead. The visitors got on to the score board on the next end when they scored a single but scores of 2, 4, 6 and 3 saw the Ballymena men go in to an unassailable lead with the score board reading 26-1 in favour of Cameron’s men.
With 3 ends remaining the margin was still 25 shots and even though the visitors scored 6 shots during this time it could not take the gloss off an excellent victory by 33 shots to 14.
Bertie Thompson, Willie McNabb, Alan Smyth and Leslie Jackson took on D Boucher. The visitors settled down quickly and with 4 ends completed they had opened up a 4 shot lead. The Ballymena men won the next 4 ends to take the lead for the first time and at the half way stage of the game the Braid rink lead by 11 shots to 6.
The Belfast men hit back and over the next 4 ends they scored a total of 6 shots to wrestle the lead back. That however was as good as it got for the visitors. The Ballymena men picked up consecutive counts of 3 shots and another 6 shots over the final ends gave the Braid rink a good 23-12 victory
Keith Burnett, Roy Kernohan, Harold Smyth and Gary Shaw had a real fight on their hands against K Brown on rink 4. Scores were level at 5-5 after 6 ends and 10-10 after 12 ends. The Braid men picked up 5 shots over the next 2 ends to open up a decent lead but over the next 6 ends they fought back to level the game at 17-17 with only one end remaining. The last end built up well for the Ballymena rink and when the visiting skip went to play the final bowl of the game the Braid men lay shot and there appeared no way that the Belfast skip could get the shot, however he played weight with his last delivery and when the dust had settled it was the visitors who lay the shot and this denied Shaw’s men victory with the final score 18-17.