Champions kick-off title defence with victory at Portglenone

Roberta Wilson of West Church signals a good delivery as looking on are Maine bowlers John Heffron and Brian Kerr. INBT40-204AC

Roberta Wilson of West Church signals a good delivery as looking on are Maine bowlers John Heffron and Brian Kerr. INBT40-204AC

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Michelin laid down an early marker in their defence of their Ballymena & District League crown as the new season began last week.

The champions opened their campaign with a 39-shot victory from their opening fixture at newly-promoted Portglenone Community Centre in the only one of three scheduled Division One matches to take place.

Despite the large margin, the Ports had to settle for just four of the five points on offer.

The Bannsiders claimed their first entry in their points tally for the season through Gerard McLarnon’s rink, who finished strongly against Wesley Caldwell.

The Ports rink had trailed until the penultimate end, when they picked up a count of three shots to lead by two going into the final end, where McLarnon ditched the jack with his final bowl to wrap up an 8-5 victory.

The other games were somewhat more routine for Michelin, with Mark McCullough’s foursome winning eight of the 10 ends in a 15-3 win over Jim Gaul.

Michelin hit the accelerator after the interval with Matt Boyd’s rink in devastating form with a 24-3 win over Eamon Cassley, which included three counts of five shots inside the opening five ends. The victory was completed with a 12-3 success for Graham Wilson over Joe McErlean.

DIVISION TWO

BIBC’s return to the second tier following their relegation didn’t go as they would have liked as they ended up sharing the spoils at home to All Saints.

The visitors won two of the three rinks through single shot win for Sean haveron and Eugene McReynolds, while Anthony Mitchell earned half a point from an 8-8 tie with Tommy Hill.

It was left to Nigel Robinson - who, along with Irish outdoor international Stephen Shields, has joined following the demise of BI’s ‘A’ team club-mates - to rescue the situation with en eight-shot win over Tony Dillon which also secured the extra point for overall shots total.

The other team who dropped down from the top flight, Clough Rangers, had a more comfortable start to life in Division Two as they claimed four points from a home game against Harryville Community Centre.

After a fairly disappointing campaign last time, the visitors rang the changes, fielding four new skips while a number of last year’s skips played in different positions throughout the rinks.

Gregory Kirk, Raymond Aitcheson and Jimmy Gregg led their Clough rinks to wins, while Harryville’s lone reply came from Gary Worthington’s rink.

Moneyglass started their campaign with a four-point haul from a five shot win over Golf Seniors.

The defining moment in the game came when H Graham’s Moneyglass rink was tied at 9-9 going into the last end against the golfers’ Ivan McMaster and it was Graham who claimed the point after a measure.

The other Division Two game saw Services ‘A’ claim four points against newly-promoted Glenravel.

Bill Kitson, Mark Shaw and Dessie McNeill won for Services, with Vera Bryson claiming Glenravel’s point.

DIVISION THREE

Eaton Park, who had to withdraw from the league last season, celebrated their return by taking four points at the expense of Services ‘B’.

Gary Shaw, George Reid and John Carruthers skipped winning rinks for the rugby club side, while Services’ point came from Eric Smyth’s rink, who scored 21 of the visitors’ total of 32 shots.

Maine recorded an opening day win at West Church, thanks to wins from first half wins from John Heffron and Patsy O’Neill.

West Church responded after the break with wins from Victor Mahon and Maurice Livingstone, but they still came up short by three shots overall.

Antrim Indoor Bowling Club claimed four points from their opening fixture at home to First Ballymena.

Nigel McCurry, Darren McCullough and John Logan won for the Antrim side, while ‘First’s response came from David McQuitty, who beat Robert McCullough’s rink by three shots.