Ballymena Seniors took on Belmont last Thursday night at Larne Bowling Club in the final of the NIPGL Senior Cup and realistically this was the Senior’s only chance of silverware this season.
The Ballymena men did not go in to the final in the best of form having been surprising beaten by UlsterTransport in the NIPGL Senior League Division 1 the previous Saturday and also with several of their regular players missing. The Braid team took some time to settle down and when they found themselves 19 shots adrift after only a handful of ends and with two of the rinks dropping counts of 6 shots it did not look good for the Ballymena men. During the middle part of the game however the Braid men gradually reeled in the Belmont lead and cheered on by a big crowd of supporters they hit the front with only 3 ends remaining. The momentum was now with the Ballymena men and in what must be their best performance of the season they went on to defeat Belmont by 9 shots.
Ballymena Seniors (83) Belmont (74): J R Nicholl, Rod Coleman, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman took on S Bennett. The Braid men picked up 4 shots on the 2nd end only to concede a count of 6 shots on the 4th end. The Belmont rink had slightly the better next few ends but at the half way stage of the game the Braid men were still very much in the game as they only trailed by 3 shots. With 15 ends completed the margin was still 3 shots but from then on it was all one way traffic as the Ballymena rink took control. Two ends later Coleman’s rink hit the front and a further 5 shots over the remaining ends saw them home to claim an excellent 21-14 victory.
Steven Shields, George Graham, Andrew Morrison and Andi Duncan were drawn against T Crawford. The Belmont rink started well and counts of 4 on the 3rd end and 3 on the 5th end got them off to a good start. Five shots over the next 2 ends saw the Braid men get back in to the game however by the time the game had reached the 10th end the Belmont rink had opened up an 11 shot advantage. The Braid rink knuckled down and over the next 5 ends they had their best period of the match when with the help of two 4’s they cut the Belmont lead down to 4 shots. Unfortunately for the Ballymena men the Belmont rink doubled their lead on the next end and they added a further 3 shots over the final ends to run out winners by 27 shots to 18.
James Gaston, Graham Wilson, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson picked up a single on the first end against R Horner but they lost the next 3 ends to trail by 7 shots to 1. The Ballymena rink added another 2 shots to their score on the 5th end but on the next end they dropped a count of 6 shots to find themselves 10 shots in arrears with only 6 ends played. Robinson’s men did not panic and 8 shots over the next 5 ends cut the Belmont advantage to only 2 shots. The Belfast men increased their lead to 7 shots over the next 3 ends but the Braid men with scores of 4,3 and 1 over the next few ends gave the Ballymena rink the lead. The Belmont rink however had the better of the remaining ends to claim victory by 23 shots to 20 but in the context of the overall game this had been a good comeback from the Braid men after their poor start.
On rink 5 Michael Wilson, Sammy Allen, Mark Torrington and Jim Baker were in magnificent form against R Battersby. The Belmont rink scored 2 singles over the first 2 ends but from then it was mostly one way traffic as the Braid men took control. The Belmont men scored 2 shots on the final end but the night belonged to the Braid men whose mixture of youth and experience had worked so well on the night to claim an important 24-10 victory.
Ballymena Seniors (97.25)Falls (60): Ballymena Seniors entertained Falls in the NIPGL Senior League Division 1 last Saturday and they continued where they had left off the previous Thursday night to claim a comfortable victory.
Steven Shields, Norman Armstrong, Graham Wilson and Andi Duncan started off in fine fashion against J Murtagh and after 6 ends they had opened up an 11-1 lead. Over the next 6 ends however the Falls men fought back and levelled the game at 11-11. The Braid men rediscovered their earlier form and over the remainder of the game the visitors could only add another 3 shots to their score while Duncan’s men accumulated a total of 19 shots to claim victory by 30 shots to 14.
David Duncan, Sammy Allen, Mark Torrington and Jim Baker made the best possible start against P Thompson when they picked up a count of 6 shots on the first end. The Falls rink replied with 4 shots over the next 2 ends but the Braid men stamped their authority on the game when they scored 9 shots over the next 5 ends to lead by 11 shots. The margin was still 11 shots with only 1 end remaining and the visitors finished off the scoring on the final end when they picked up 2 shots to leave the final score 24-15.
Due to a misunderstanding Ballymena could only field 3 players on rink 3 where J R Nicholl, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman took on P McVeigh. Two counts of 3 shots on the 12th and 17th ends helped to Ballymena rink extend their early advantage to 8 shots with only 4 ends to play. The visitors outscored Coleman’s men by 4 shots to 2 over the remaining ends to leave the final score 23-17 in favour of the home rink and even though they lost a quarter of their shots the Ballymena men still finished in front by 17.25 shots to 17.
James Gaston, Joe McKeown, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson took on J McGettrick and for the first two thirds of this game there was little to choose between the two rinks. During this period the lead changed on several occasions and with 14 ends played the visitors held a slender 1 shot lead. The visitors were unable to score for the remainder of the game and during this time the Ballymena men doubled their score to run out 26-14 victors.