Mid-Antrim ladies claim final spot in last-bowl drama

Eilish McNeill delivers a wood for Mid-Antrim in their dramatic Plate semi-final win over Foyle at the weekend.
Eilish McNeill delivers a wood for Mid-Antrim in their dramatic Plate semi-final win over Foyle at the weekend.

Mid Antrim ladies secured their place in this seasons inter-Zone Plate Final courtesy of a nerve shredding last bowl victory at Foyle on Saturday.

Playing with tremendous spirit and determination, the local ladies defied pre match predictions to win the game.

In doing so, they produced a superb performance bearing in mind that their opponents lead 21 – 6 after five ends.

The action commenced on mat 1 with Margaret Simms, Delores Scullion, Pearl Peacock and Ann Bacon drawn to play S Johnston’s rink. The hosts made a strong start to this game and by the halfway stage, had established an 11 – 1 advantage. Ann’s rink rallied in the later part of the game to limit the host rink to a 13 – 6 win.

Mat 2 pitched Jennifer Wilson’s in form rink of Kathleen McKelvey, Yvonne Hall and Helen Maybin against D Stevenson’s four. Again the hosts made the better start in this game to lead 6 – 1 after five ends. Thereafter, Jennifer’s rink took control scoring a total of 11 shots to clinch victory by 12 shots to 7.

The rink skipped by Eva Gage, with Eilish McNeill at lead, Janis Wheeler second and Rosalind Gordon playing third, turned in another solid performance against N Britton. After five ends, both rinks were level at 4 – 4. The single scored by Foyle on end six was to be their last scoring one as Eva’s rink reeled off the closing four ends, in the process securing 6 shots to earn a 10 – 5 win.

The second half commenced with Helen Lynn’s rink of Molly Turtle, Wilma Adair and Samantha Lynn drawn against V Witherow’s four. This was a very close game throughout and with nine ends complete, both rinks were deadlocked at 7 – 7.

Maria Millar, Barbara Burnett, Irene McCullough and Megan Wilson had N Millar’s rink as their opponents. This was a keenly contested and tight game, underlined by two “no heads” and a series of singles and two’s. This gave the hosts a slender 5 - 4 lead with one end to play.

On Mat 6, Anne Agnew’s rink of Lynda Turtle, Roberta Morrison and Jenny Kirk took on L Hamilton’s four. This was another tight affair with Anne’s rink leading 7 -2 going into the final end.

Overall, Mid Antrim entered the last end across all three mats with what looked to be a winning 7 shot cushion. However, Foyle mounted a strong last end challenge in an attempt to snatch the game putting pressure on the Mid Antrim rinks.

Anne faced a count of 5 against with one bowl to play and responded with a bowl which reduced the count to 2. Megan found herself in exactly the same position and she, like Anne produced a delivery which cut her opponents count to 2 shots.

With the tension building, it was now down to Helen’s game to decide the outcome of the match with Foyle still needing 3 shots to tie the game and lying 2. Both skips had one bowl each to deliver. Helen played her bowl to rest against Foyle’s second shot in the process making it very difficult for the Foyle skip to secure 3rd shot.

When the Foyle bowl fell short of the head, Mid Antrim had secured a dramatic and memorable victory by the narrowest of margins.

Mid Antrim now take their place in the final where they will play Monaghan.