Michelin and BPFA ‘A’ strengthened their grip at the top as the Ballymena & District League title race resumed last week.
The ‘big two’ started 2015 by claiming maximum points from their fixtures against Portglenone Community Centre and Old Bleach respectively.
Michelin were in particularly merciless form as they put visitors Portglenone to the sword with a 40-shot success at the Woodside Road clubrooms - the champions’ seventh win from seven league games this season.
The closest game of the night saw Wesley Caldwell’s rink overcome Kevin O’Kane, but the outcome wasn’t decided until the final end where a ‘2’ secured a five-shot win for Caldwell.
Elsewhere, it was more plain sailing for Michelin as their remaining rinks, skipped by Grant Robinson, Graham Wilson - who claimed five shots on two separate ends - and Matthew Boyd, all had plenty to spare in claiming victory.
Broughshane Playing Fields Association ‘A’ - whose only defeat so far came at the hands of Michelin - continue to stay on the leaders’ coat-tails and they remain just two-and-a-half points behind after overcoming Old Bleach.
There were no earth-shattering winning margins for the Broughshane rinks but, crucially, all of them recorded victory, with Andrew Morrison pushed the closest, before seeing off Mervyn McDonald by a single shot.
Doran Turtle, Alan Cahoon and Ivan Craig also skipped BPFA rinks to victory to keep their title hunt alive.
After a slow start, Golf Club had displayed some improved form before the Christmas break and they got back in the groove with a four point haul from BPFA ‘B’.
Wins from Sean McGarry, David McQuitty and Jonny Lynn put the game beyond Broughshane, although Andrew Davison’s rink ensured it wasn’t a whitewash for the villagers by shading the verdict against Kevin McGarry.
Michelin 59 (5), Portglenone Community Centre 19 (0): W Caldwell 10, K O’Kane 5; G Robinson 16, G McLarnon 6; G Wilson 16, T McCart 4; M Boyd 17, J McErlean 4.
BPFA ‘A’ 49 (5), Old Bleach 24 (0): D Turtle 11, J Millar 3; A Cahoon 14, N Booth 4; I Craig 13, B Magrath 7; A Morrison 11, M McDonald 10.
BPFA ‘B’ 20 (1), Golf Club 44 (4): J Wasson 3, S McGarry 18; N Graham 4, D McQuitty 7; G Davison 6, J Lynn 13; A Davison 7, K McGarry 6.
BIBC took another big step towards an instant return to the top flight, as two of their main promotion challengers faltered.
The Old Ballymoney Road side claimed four points from their trip to All Saints, thanks to wins from Tommy Hill, Roy Torrington and Nigel Robinson.
Tony Dillon’s single shot victory over Danny McCullough prevented ‘BI’ claiming all of the points on offer.
BIBC’s nearest challengers Services ‘A’ slipped up at bottom side Glenravel. The point for overall shots total was shared after the sides finished deadlocked on 31 shots apiece but the Martinstown side won three rinks through John McKeegan - thanks to a ‘6’ on the eighth end - Martin McKillop and Martin McKeegan.
Bill Kitson’s rink were the only winners for Services in a game against Martin O’Neill which featured no less than THREE scoreless heads, where both sides had bowls touching the jack.
Clough Rangers also faltered at Harryville, picking up just one point, courtesy of Gregory Kirk’s rink, while wins from David Wilkinson, Gary Worthington and Joe Patterson helped Harryville improve their league position.
In the other game, Golf Seniors claimed three-and-a-half points against struggling Moneyglass, thanks to wins from Ivan Mcmaster and John Nichols, while Donald Smyth earned a half-point in a 9-9 tie with Tommy Magee. Henry Graham claimed ‘MG’s other point.
Harryville Community Centre 45 (4), Clough Rangers 29 (1): D Wilkinson 12, J Gregg 4; G Worthington 11, M Norton 9; W Reid 9, G Kirk 11; J Patterson 13, R Aitcheson 5.
Golf Seniors 45 (3.5), Moneyglass 27 (1.5): S Haveron 6, T Hill 9; A Mitchell 8, R Torrington 14; T Dillon 9, D McCullough 8; E McReynolds 8, N Robinson 13.
Glenravel 31 (3.5), Services ‘A’ 31 (1.5): J Mckeegan 12, D Mcneill 7; M O’Neill 1, B Kitson 8; M McKillop 11, P Wilson 10; M McKeegan 7, M Shaw 6.
Antrim IBC won a top-of-the-table clash at First Ballymena to strengthen their position in the third tier.
Darren McCullough, Robert McCullough and Tom Evans skipped winning rinks for Antrim, with ‘First’s lone response coming from Lyle McQuitty.
Services ‘B’ hauled themselves back into title contention by taking full points against Eaton Park, through wins from Gretta Coulter, Eric Smyth, Sheila Smith and Roy Dickson.
In the other game, Maine claimed four points against West Church, thanks to wins from Briege Magill, John Heffron and Patsy O’Neill. M Johnston claimed West Church’s only point.
First Ballymena 29 (1), Antrim IBC 40 (4): M McPeake 9, D McCullough 11; R Woods 7, R McCullough 11; L McQuitty 10, J Logan 6; D McQuitty 3, T Evans 12.
Services ‘B’ 43 (5), Eaton Park 24 (0): G Coulter 11, J Carruthers 4; E Smyth 14, B Hill 8; S Smith 9, G Shaw 6; R Dickson 9, G Reid 6.
Maine 43 (4), West Church 27 (1): B Magill 9, V Mahon 7; L McQuillan 5, M Johnston 5; J Heffron 15, M Livingstone 2; P O’Neill 14, T Wilson 9.
Division One: Michelin, played 7, points 29.5; BPFA ‘A’ 7-27; Golf Club 7-21; Old Bleach 6-16.5; BPFA ‘B’ 7-9.5; JTI 6-6; Portglenone CC 6-5.5.
Division Two: BIBC, played 8, points 31.5; Services ‘A’ 8-22.5; Clough Rangers 8-21.5; Harryville CC 8-19; Golf Seniors 8-17.5; All Saints 8-16.5; Moneyglass 8-16; Glenravel 8-15.5.
Division Three: Antrim IBC, played 7, points 24; Services ‘B’ 7-21.5; First Ballymena 7-21.5; Maine 7-17; West Church 7-14; Eaton Park 7-13; Round Tower 6-10.
Action switches from the league to the two knockout competitions this week, with the quarter-final second legs in the League Cup down for decision.
Michelin and BPFA ‘A’ look favourites to reach the last four, where they could be joined by second division sides BIBC and Golf Seniors.
This week also sees the opening round of the League Plate, the subsidiary competition for teams eliminated in the early rounds of the League Cup.
The draw is: Services ‘A’ v Services ‘B’; West Church v Glenravel; First Ballymena v BPFA ‘B’; JTI v Eaton Park; All Saints v Round Tower. Byes: Clough Rangers, Maine, Moneyglass.