Seniors eye more Irish Cup glory - but league title slipping away

Ballymena Senior Bowling team members Graham Wilson, James Gaston and Stephen Falls ponder their next bowl against Divis on Saturday afternoon. INBT 31-947H
Ballymena Senior Bowling team members Graham Wilson, James Gaston and Stephen Falls ponder their next bowl against Divis on Saturday afternoon. INBT 31-947H

Ballymena Seniors had no less than three important matches in the space of three days last week.

NIPGL SENIOR CUP

On Thursday Ballymena Seniors travelled to Larne to take on Old Bleach in the semi final of the NIPGL Senior Cup. The Ballymena men quickly opened up a 15-20 shots and they were able to maintain this margin right up in the end to record a comfortable 24 victory.

Steven Shields, Sammy Allen, Andrew Morrison and Andrew Kyle were on fire on rink 2 against N Booth and with 7 ends played they had opened up a 12 shot lead. The Old Bleach stemmed the flow of shots when they scores 3 consecutive singles but Kyle’s men won 8 of the next 9 ends to increase their advantage to 21 shots and even though they conceded 6 shots over the final ends it could not take the gloss off an excellent Ballymena performance by 26 shots to 11.

Two counts of 4 shots on the 2nd and 3rd ends got the Ballymena rink of J R Nicholl, J J Robinson, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman off to a good start against J Talbot. With 15 ends played the margin was down to 5 shots but the Ballymena rink scored 9 shots over the next 4 ends to extend their lead to 14 shots. The Old Bleach rink scored 3 singles over the last 3 end but the Braid men were well worth their 25-14 victory.

James Gaston, Graham Wilson, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson found it tough going against S Hall and at the half way stage of the game they trailed by 9 shots. In a cup game it is important to play for the team even if things are not going your way and Robinson’s men dug in and even though they could not secure victory, they made sure that the Old Bleach rink did not run away with the game and in the end the Ballymena men went down by 22 shots to 15.

Andrew Bonnar, Jimmy Hodges, Andy Duncan and Jim Baker had a real tussle against M Nutt. There was never much in this game and with 11 ends played the Ballymena men held a slender 1 shot advantage. The decisive period of the game came over the next 2 ends when they scored 5 to lead by 6 shots. The Old Bleach did their best to get back on level terms but victory went to the Braid men by 18 shots to 14.

NIPGL SENIOR LEAGUE

On Friday night the Seniors travelled to Belmont to complete a game which had been rained off last month after 15 ends when the green flooded.

At that stage of the game the Braid men had an overall 6 shot lead and were up on 2 rinks, 1 rink was level and 1 rink was down however it was a disappointing evening for the Ballymena men as they could only claim a single point and leave Belmont the favourites to win the NIPGL Senior League Division1.

Steven Shields, Sammy Allen, Andrew Morrison and Andrew Kyle resumed their game against R Horner trailing by a single shot.

The Braid men were up for the game and with 1 end remaining they had levelled the game at 16-16. The Ballymena rink played a good final end and with only 2 bowls remaining the visitors lay the shot. Horner then played an excellent bowl to turn the Ballymena bowl out of the head to lie shot.

Kyle had the final bowl but he slid agonisingly past the shot bowl to leave the Belmont rink lying the shot which gave them victory by 17 shots to 16.

Andrew Bonnar, David Duncan, Andrew Duncan and Jim Baker took on R Battersby with the scores level at 14-14.

Unfortunately for the Ballymena men they found the Belmont rink too hot to handle and over the final 6 ends they were outscored by 12 shots to 1 to go down by 26 shots to 15.

J R Nicholl, J J Robinson, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman also found the going tough on rink 4. They resumed their game against D Hamilton trailing by 5 shots and with 5 ends to play but the Braid men could only win 1 of the remaining ends and when the game had been concluded it was the Belmont rink who claimed victory by 24 shots to 12.

James Gaston, Graham Wilson, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson had a 10 shot advantage against S Bennett when they took to the green with 6 ends remaining. Two ends later the advantage was up to 12 shots, however a fortuitous count of 4 shots on the next end saw the Belmont rink reduce the lead to 4 shots. Both rinks scored 3 shots over the closing ends to leave Robinson’s men victorious by 24 shots to 16.

IRISH SENIOR CUP

Saturday was yet another big game for the Braid Seniors and they put the disappointment of Friday night behind them and claimed an excellent win over Divis to progress in to the semi finals of the Irish Cup where they will play Ballymoney.

Steven Shields, Sammy Allen, Andrew Morrison and Andrew Kyle were involved in a game of two halves against P McCafferty.

The Ballymena men dominated the first 11 ends to open up a 21-4 advantage, however the visitors hit back and they won the majority of the remaining ends, but it was not enough to deprive the Braid rink of victory with the final score 24-18.

J R Nicholl, Alistair Coleman, Andrew Duncan and Steven Coleman made a slow start against G McCleave and after7 ends they trailed by 9 shots to 3. The Braid men fought back and over the next 4 ends they levelled the game at 11-11. The remainder of the game was pretty even, but it was the visitors who claimed victory by 16 shots to 14.

For the first 9 ends, the visiting rink skipped by R Greggan had slightly the better of the game against James Gaston, Graham Wilson, Steven Falls and Nigel Robinson and at this stage of the game they lead by 3 shots. The Ballymena men then moved up a gear and they won the next 10 ends to turn a 3 shot deficit in to a 20 shot advantage and they would eventually go on to record a comprehensive victory by 33 shots to 11.

Andrew Bonnar, David Duncan, Mark Torrington and Jim Baker were always in control of their game against B Power and went on to record an excellent 24-9 victory.