Dunbarton get sweet revenge over Portrush in Irish Senior Cup

THE Dunbarton senior team got sweet revenge at the weekend when they made it through to the semi final of the Irish Senior Cup with a home win over Portrush.

The men from the North Coast had defeated the locals two years ago at the same stage, but importantly that game was at Portrush.

This was a game that had everything and having started at 2pm finished at 9.15pm! The very inclement weather meant that the players had to come off the green twice and eventually, it was decided on the last end of the last rink contest.

With the game all square, the Dunbarton front end of Jack Moffett and Chris Mulholland laid the foundations to lie two shots, with the end result being that skip Andy Hughes did not have to throw his last bowl and scenes of joy erupted.

This was a terrific team performance as the locals got off to a horrible start and showed tremendous character to fight back.

With two ends played, the visitors led by six shots and then the heavens opened, resulting in a 30 minute delay. Five ends later and the deficit was 18 shots as the heavy green was clearly not suiting the hosts.

Immediately after a two-hour second rain delay, this deficit increased to 23 shots and the locals looked to be in real trouble. However, as the green finally dried out, the quicker pace suited the home side and they began to pile on the pressure, eventually taking the lead with five ends to go across the green.

To their credit, the visitors never gave up and the game went right to the final end with the scores level. Thankfully, the hosts held their nerve and made it into the semis, leaving the visitors with a long and disappointing journey home.

As a reward for their troubles, the locals now play old rivals Belmont for a place in the Irish Senior Cup final. This should be a cracking encounter!

Rink 1: J Moffatt, C Mulholland, G McElroy, A Hughes down 16-26 - Andy’s four got off to a disastrous start when the opposing skip, Irish international I McClure turned the jack for five shots on the opening end when one shot down. After six ends, they were 3-11 in arrears when the heavens opened. The locals did fight back and manged to reduce the deficit to five shots, but over the run in it was the men from the North Coast that moved up a gear and put shots on the board. However, it was the Gilford men who had the last laugh over their very vocal adversaries when they held their nerve on that all important last end to lead their team over the line into another Irish Senior Cup semi final.

Rink 2 S Trainor, J Magennis, M Merritt, M Greenfield up 28-16 - This rink have been in terrific touch in recent games and produced a superb performance to defeat their opponents. Similarly to most of the home rinks, Myles’ men started slowly and trailed 2-6 after five ends but for the remaining three quarters of the game, there was only one rink in this game. The home quartet showed their class, producing top quality bowls and forcing their rivals to continually use weight to little effect. Scores of 1,3,2,3,4 from ends 9-13 rocketed the Gilford bowlers into an 18-8 lead and over the remaining ends, the hosts cruised to a facile and very important twelve shot success.

Rink 3: D Copeland, G Moore, T Bell, DJ Wilson down 16-24 - DJ’s foursome were the only rink that coped early with the heavy green as they opened up a narrow 8-7 lead after seven ends before the second large downpour. When play resumed at approx 6.15, the hosts restarted in the most horrible fashion by losing an immediate count of six to ruin their early good work and suddenly they were struggling. By end fourteen, the locals had cut the away lead to just one shot at 13-14, only to lose two successive trebles and put themselves back in trouble. Try as they could, the Gilford bowlers were unable to make any inroads into the Portrush advantage and went into the last end trailing by nine shots. With just two shots in the game overall, in favour of the hosts and with this rink and Andy Hughes’ rink left on, home skip DJ played one of his most important bowls of the season. Having arrived home from holidays in the early hours of Saturday morning, the home skip, who by his own admission was not having one of his better games, drew a crucial shot with the final bowl of the game when two shots against and although losing by eight shots, that shot proved to be vital in the end.

Rink 4: M Higgins, P Convery, C McCartan, S Adamson up 22-14 - Club President Stevie Adamson and his rink got off to a nightmare start in the wet as they trailed 1-10 after just six ends but similarly to rink two, after the second rain delay, there was only one rink in this game. In no time, the hosts had levelled the scores and with new Irish International Conor McCartan in outstanding form at third, they quickly moved in front as the visitors simply did not know what had hit them. End after end, it was just damage limitation for the away four and by the close Stevie’s fantastic foursome had turned a nine shot deficit into an eight shot success. A vitally important turnaround in the overall context of the game.

This Saturday there are no league games as the Private Greens Finals will be held in Jordanstown at the Ulster Transport club. With three Dunbarton rinks remaining in the last four, there is guaranteed to be at least one Gilford rink aiming for glory on Saturday, and there is a distinct possibility of an all Dunbarton final. Regardless of who is in the final, the game should start at 2pm.