Mixed fortunes for Braidmen ahead of Irish Senior Cup final

Ballymena's Andy Duncan in action during his team's league game with Willowfield. INBT 34-174CS
Ballymena's Andy Duncan in action during his team's league game with Willowfield. INBT 34-174CS

Ballymena A continued their 2015 NIPGL Division One League campaign when they picked up another nine points from two matches last week.

They claimed maximum points against Willowfield on Tuesday night and then on Saturday they travelled to Larne where they claimed 2 of the 7 points on offer.

Ballymena's Rod Coleman in action during his team's league game with Willowfield. INBT 34-172CS

Ballymena's Rod Coleman in action during his team's league game with Willowfield. INBT 34-172CS

Ballymena A (112) Willowfield (56)

Rod Coleman, Graham Wilson, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson found themselves 4-3 down against J Moore after 4 ends but the Braid men blitzed the visitors over the next 6 ends to effectively win the game with only 10 ends played. During this period of play the Braid men picked up 2 counts of 6 on the 5th and 10th ends and in between this they claimed another 14 shots to leave the Ballymena rink 25 shots to the good. The visitors came more in game but Robinson’s men were always in control and ran out easy winners by 35 shots to 11.

Steven Shields, Neal Garrett, Roy Torrington and Andi Duncan made a great start to their game against A Sloan and with 6 ends completed the Braid men lead by 13 shots to 2. The visitors hit back and over the next 3 ends they reduced the arrears to 4 shots but Duncan’s men picked up 8 unanswered shots over the next 3 ends to lead by 12. The home rink continued to have slightly the better of the remainder of the contest and by the conclusion the gap had increased to 15 shots, 28-13.

James Gaston, Michael Wilson, Mark Torrington and Andrew Morrison came out with all guns blazing against M Leckey and with 6 ends played the Braid men led by 13 shots to 0. The middle part of the game was well contested however with 17 ends played the gap was still 13 shots and when the game had reached its conclusion 13 shots was still the margin with the final score 27-14

The closest game saw JR Nicholl, George Graham, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman take on J Millar. In fact the visitors settled down the quicker and they won 6 of the opening 9 ends to open up a 6 shot advantage. The momentum changed over the next 2 ends when the Ballymena men picked up a total of 7 shots and by the time the game had reached the 19th end the Braid rink lead was up to 7 shots. The visitors won the last 2 ends but it made little difference to the outcome with Coleman’s men claiming victory by 22 shots to 18.

Ballymena (78) Larne (87)

JR Nicholl, George Graham, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman picked up 3 consecutive singles over the opening ends against A McClean however the home rink hit back with a vengeance when they scored 15 unanswered shots over the next 5 ends. With 6 ends remaining the Braid men trailed by 10 shots but the Ballymena rink were in determined mood and over the next 5 ends they fought back to level the game at 21-21 and they went on to claim an unlikely win when the picked up a count of 3 shots on the final end to leave the final score 24-21.

On rink 2 Rod Coleman, Sammy Allen, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson were drawn against A Kyle. The home rink settled down quickly and took an early lead and at the half way stage of the contest they lead by 11 shots to 7 but with a deficit of only 4 shots the Braid men were still well in the game. Unfortunately for the Ballymena rink the Larne men were in fine form and 2 counts of 4 shots helped the home rink to a 26-13 victory.

James Gaston, David Duncan, Michael Wilson and Andrew Morrison took on D McRandal. The home rink scored 2 shots on the 1st end and a count of 4 shots on the next end to open up an early lead. The Larne men levelled the game and they went on to win 4 of the next 5 ends to open up an 8 shot advantage but the Braid men were in no mood to lie down and 9 shots over the next 5 ends saw them regain the lead by a single shot. Going in to the final end the visitors still lead by a single shot however they were ambushed on the final end when the Larne rink scored 2 shots to claim a hard fought 22-21 victory.

Steven Shields, Neal Garrett, Roy Torrington and Andi Duncan actually won 8 of the first 13 ends against M Murphy however at this stage of the game they trailed by 10 shots to 9. Six ends later it was looking bleak for the Braid men as they trailed by 7 shots however a count of 5 shots on the 19th end gave them a glimmer of hope. A single on the penultimate end closed the gap to only 1 shot and Duncan’s men completed an excellent comeback when they scored 3 shots on the final end to win by 20 shots to 18.

Next Saturday Ballymena A travel to Old Bleach where they will play Dunbarton in the final of the Irish Senior Cup