Two of the top three in NIPGL Division 3 met at the Old Ballymoney Green last Saturday when third placed Shorts visited league leaders Ballymena.
The match actually turned out to be a bit of a one sided affair with the Braid men picking up maximum points and if results go the right way this week Ballymena B will be crowned champions and automatic promotion to NIPGL Division 2.
The closest game of the day came on rink 1 where Robert Mark, Stewart McCarthy, Joe McKeown and Geoff Padgett were drawn against G Robinson. The lead in this game changed on several occasions and it was the Braid men who settled down the quicker and with 4 ends played they lead by 5 shots. Five ends later the visitors had recovered from a slow start to lead by 8 shots to 7.
The Ballymena men picked up 3 shots on the 10th end to regain the lead but with only 4 ends remaining the game was still in the balance with the scores level at 14-14. A single on the 18th end gave Padgett’s men the lead however the Shorts men stunned the home rink when they picked up a count of 5 shots on the next end to make them favourites to win the game but the Ballymena men had other ideas and scores of 2 and 4 saw the claim victory by 21 shots to 19.
On rink 2 Leslie Barr, Arnold Kenny, Danny McCullough and Ivan Lynn were always in control of their game against T Roberts.
The Braid men won 5 of the opening 7 ends to open up an early 3 shots advantage but successive counts of 4 shots on the 8th and 9th ends put Lynn’s men in charge. Four ends later the visitors had reduced the Ballymena advantage to 6 shots but 10 shots over the next 3 ends meant that there was only going to be one winner in this game and the Braid men went on to win comfortably by 31 shots to 14.
Alan Smyth, Norman Armstrong, Nigel McFadden and John Coulter made a great start in their match against B Livingston on rink 3 and with 7 ends completed the Braid men lead by 11 shots to 1.
The visitors however had not turned up just to make up the numbers and 12 ends later they had whittled the Ballymena lead down to only 5 shots but Coulter’s men were not to be beaten and two counts of 3 shots over the final 2 ends gave them victory by 22 shots to 11.
Alan McAuley, John McFall, Tommy Hill and J J Robinson made a steady start against J Nicholl on rink 4 and with 7 ends played the Braid men held a 6-4 lead.
A count of 6 shots on the next end saw the Ballymena rink double their score and increase their advantage to 8 shots. The visitors fought back over the next few ends and by the time the game had reached the 17th end there was only 1 shot in the game. A single on the next end gave Robinson’s men a 2 shot lead and a count of 4 shots on the 19th ends settled the Ballymena nerves and ensured victory would go to the home rink with the final score 22-17.