The qualities which saw Michelin win the Ballymena & District League title last season certainly stood them in good stead last week.
In a season where every point could be vital, the Woodside Road team had to called upon all their attributes to see off a dogged Golf Club team.
The final points tally of 5-0 in Michelin’s favour doesn’t give a true reflection of the game.
While Wesley Caldwell’s rink had 10 shots to spare over Kevin McGarry, there was no such level of comfort for their team-mates, before they all ultimately came out on the right side of their results.
Grant Robinson’s rink came from 7-4 down with two ends left to beat Sean McGarry 8-7; Matthew Boyd’s four shot win over David McCullough was only achieved on the final end and the Michelin rink breathed a sigh of relief as McCullough’s final delivery narrowly missed the jack; while a ‘3’ on the penultimate end was the decisive moment in Graham Wilson’s 10-6 win over Johnny Lynn.
Every one of those hard-earned points was vital, as nearest challengers BPFA ‘A’ also claimed five points, at the expense of JTI.
Unlike Michelin, all Broughshane’s wins were relatively straight-forward as rinks skipped by Doran Turtle, Alan Cahoon, Andrew Morrison and David Morrison ensured the Knockan Road side’s title challenge remains very much on course.
It was also a good week for Broughshane’s ‘B’ team clubmates, who secured a welcome win over Portglenone Community Centre, bagging four-and-a-half points in the process.
Andrew Davidson, Adrian Hamill and Noel Graham’s rinks all won for Broughshane, while a half-point for Kevin O’Kane against George Davidson was the most the Bannsiders could muster.
There was a big shock in Division Two as leaders BIBC suffered their first defeat of the league campaign, at the hands of Harryville Community Centre.
In a very closely-contested game on all four rinks, the Wakehurst side’s two-point overall winning total came from single shot wins for Harold Smyth and Willard Reid, against Roy Torrington and Danny McCullough respectively.
As if to illustrate the closeness of the match, the other two rink meetings both finished all square with Gary Worthington halving the point with Stephen Shields in a 7-7 draw, while Joe Patterson and Nigel Robinson’s meeting finished deadlocked at nine shots apiece.
But nearest challengers Services ‘A’ were unable to make significant inroads into ‘BI’s lead at the top as they, too, suffered defeat.
Their conquerors were Golf Seniors, whose two winning rinks were skipped by Ivan Mcmaster and John Nichols.
The outcome could have been worse for Services but for late rallies by the rinks led by Dessie McNeill and Bill Kitson, to earn two points for the Trostan Avenue side, but the golfers finished nine shots ahead overall.
The other two games in the second division - All Saints v Clough Rangers and Glenravel v Moneyglass - were postponed.
First Ballymena have been one of the success stories of the District League this season and they maintained a share of top spot after taking maximum points from their top-versus-bottom clash against West Church.
Jim Lilley recorded his fourth win in a row since moving to skip, while ‘First’s other points were earned by Lyle McQuitty, Roland Woods - who edged out Annie Erwin by a shot - and Matt McPeake.
Co-leaders Antrim IBC recovered from the previous week’s surprise defeat by taking all five points from their trip to Randalstown to face Maine.
Only Robert McCullough’s rink was really troubled as they sneaked past Paddy Kerr’s foursome by a shot but elsewhere, it was plain sailing for the Antrim rinks under the guidance of Darren McCullough, Tom Evans and John Logan, whose rink was in particularly impressive form with an 18-1 win over Brie Magill.
In the other match, first half wins from John Carruthers and Bonar Hill helped Eaton Park to a 12-shot success at Round Tower.
The Antrim side’s fortunes improved slightly in the second half with a win for Michael Teer, while John O’Neill and George Reid earned a half point from an 8-8 stalemate.