Conor gets first cap as Belmont see off Dunbarton

DUNBARTON bowlers DJ Wilson and Conor McCartan were both in action for Ireland at the weekend in the British Isles Championships in Llandidrod, Wales.

Conor earned his first three caps at second to Noel Graham while DJ added to his caps with three games at second to Neil Booth.

First up on the Saturday morning was a game against Wales and DJ’s rink lost narrowly by three shots, while Conor’s baptism of fire was an eight-shot reverse . Overall the team never got going and succumbed to the eventual champions Wales by 25 shots.

In the afternoon, their contest with England was a much closer affair but Ireland lost narrowly by eight shots. DJ’s rink had a fine 5 shot victory while Conor’s four never got going and lost by 11.

On Sunday morning, Ireland were playing for pride and despite a valiant effort, lost to Scotland by 18 shots. DJ and his three colleagues chalked up another victory, this time by a solitary shot, while Conor’s rink lost by three having led throughout, only to lose a ghastly six on the penultimate end which put paid to their chances of victory.

This was a fantastic experience for Conor and hopefully the first of many caps for Dunbarton’s newest international.

Yet another cracking tussle was in evidence last Tuesday night when Dunbarton A team travelled to Belmont, but unfortunately for the third time in nine days, the locals were on the end of a narrow defeat.

For any spectator who enjoys the game of bowls, games between these two teams are usually as good a game of club bowls as you will see, this one was no different.

The locals got off to a flyer scoring 12 shots to 1 in the first end and held onto this lead for most of the game. To their disappointment, the locals were unable to survive a late Belmont comeback and with one rink on and one end remaining, the hosts led by three shots. With three shots against, away skip DJ Wilson ditched the jack with his first bowl, but the jack went out to the wrong side leaving himself a nigh on impossible last bowl to score a treble to tie the game.

Having led as a team up to the 18/19 ends mark, the locals will be gutted not to have defeated their old rivals. Especially with skips Andy Hughes and Myles Greenfield having led their rinks to tremendous, hard fought victories.

A tough defeat to swallow for the Gilford team and probably puts paid to any lingering title hopes that that Dunbarton may have.

Rink 1 S Trainor, J Magennis, M Merritt, M Greenfield up 20-17 - If ever an away rink started brightly, this was it as Myles’ four started the game by scoring a remarkable seven shots on the first end! From thereonin, the locals always had their rivals at arm’s length but with the home skip in terrific form, the Gilford bowlers were unable to stretch their lead to double figures as they would have liked. As the game drew to a close the hosts kept putting pressure on, but Myles’ four staved them off with a well deserved three shot success.

Rink 2 D Copeland, P Convery, T Bell, DJ Wilson down 16-22 - Last week against Belmont, DJ’s four got off to a horrible start. The reverse was the case in this game as after four ends, they had opened up a 7-0 lead. By the twelve ends mark, their fine start continued as they led 14-6 and looked odds on for a fine victory. However, the home skip had other ideas and over the remaining ends, played some world class deliveries to single handedly turn this game on its head. The loss of scores of 1,1,1,5,3 from ends 15-19 saw DJ’s four relinquish their lead and ended up on the wrong side of a six shot defeat. A game that the locals were gutted to lose, having looked in complete control.

Rink 3 J Moffatt, C Mulholland, S Adamson, A Hughes 19-12 - Over the past few weeks, this Gilford rink have been in terrific touch and against Belmont, they continued in their rich vein of form. With second Chris Mulholland having a storming game against his former club, the hosts moved into a 10-5 lead and never looked back. As the home four tried to fight back, the locals held their nerve and by the close emerged victorious by seven shots – an excellent effort by all four bowlers.

Rink 4 M Higgins, P Convery, G McElroy, C McCartan down 12-20 - For two thirds of this game there was little to separate the sides as the two rinks cancelled each other out. 5-5 after six ends became 11-11 after fifteen. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for the visitors as the hosts put their foot on the accelerator and Conor’s four were unable to respond. The away rink were outscored 1-9 over the final six ends which proved pivotal in the overall score. A disappointing finish to the game for a rink that had competed so well for three quarters of the game.

Effectively now, the locals are playing for second place in the league. They currently trail league leaders Ballymena by nine points and they also have a game in hand.

Whilst still second place ahead of Belmont by 6.5 points, the East Belfast men have two games in hand, albeit their game in hand is against Ballymena. This guarantees that one of their nearest two rivals will drop points from their game in hand.

The locals’ only proper chance of silverware this year is the Irish Senior Cup, however after a disappointing fifth place finish last year, the locals are definetly on the up this season. With a bit of luck, the Gilford men could have won close games against Old Bleach, Ulster Transport and Belmont and would currently be top of the league.

This weekend, the big games continue with a home game against league leaders Ballymena. With Myles Greenfield and Jack Moffett missing, the locals will be understrength and if ever there was a game that a full team was required, this was it. However, the locals are very difficult to beat on their own green so a mouthwatering clash awaits.