Dunbarton A team’s NIPGL Division One title aspirations are hanging by a thread after another shattering home defeat, this time at the hands of defending league champions Belmont.
They were only able to win on one rink to claim one point in a 22 shot defeat (57-79).
Both teams were unrecognisable going into the game, with a number of regular faces missing through holidays.
Dunbarton were without regular skips, Conor McCartan, Myles Greenfield and Derick Wilson, while Belmont was without the services of Paul Daly, Robin Horner, Chris Allen and Tony Budde.
Dunbarton currently sit at the top of Division One, four points ahead of second placed Ballymena and five and a half points ahead of Belmont in third.
However, the Gilford side have played two games more than their challengers.
On rink one, Michael Higgins, Kieran Trainor, Alan Paul and Martin Trainor were playing catch up right from the start as they were 0-7 behind after three ends.
They battled hard to reach the halfway point 8-13 down and could have been level or in front only for some superb conversion bowls from skip Stuart Bennett. That was the best it would get for the home rink as they found a Belmont rink in top form and suffered a 12-27 loss.
David Copeland, Tony Thompson, Chris Mulholland and Peter Convery on rink two will be wondering how they managed to lose their game against skip Roy Battersby despite their superiority.
With lead David Copeland in great form, the home rink raced into a 10-1 lead by five ends.
Belmont skip Battersby had to draw on all his experience to keep his rink in the game and by ten ends Dunbarton held an 11-5 lead. At 15 ends the score line was down to three shots difference, with Convery still 12-9 ahead.
The disappointing thing for the home rink at this point was they had lost nine ends, one shot per end and had they been able to remove some of these bowls at particular points of the game, they would have been well on their way to victory.
However on the eighteenth end when the home side where lying three shots, Belmont third Ryan Cavan turned the jack to the ditch for a count of two shots and all the momentum was with the away team.
A score of three shots the next end had them in front for the first time in the game (13-15) and they held on despite the best efforst of the Gilfod men who eventually lost 14-17.
Rink three’s game of James Kelly, Tony Bell, Jack Moffett and Andy Hughes faced skip Simon Martin.
In another game similar to that on rink one, the home rink were 1-10 behind after five ends. Even at that early stage, Belmont skip Martin had played some big conversion bowls and had one fortunate result to deny the locals.
By ten ends the score was 3-16 in favour of Belmont and even with a run of scores of 1,1,2,1,1,1 from ends eleven to seventeen, Hughes’ four were still 10-19 behind.
In the eighteenth end the Dunbarton side were lying five shots which could have set up a tense finish, but Martin soon put an end to that when he drove the jack to the ditch for one shot. Hughes’ rink finally lost 13-23.
Gary McElroy’s rink on number four of Chris Trainor, Stevie Adamson and Sean Trainor were to gain a consolation point for the home side with victory over Simon Cavan. At five ends they were 8-1 ahead and kept that lead by ten ends with an 11-4 advantage.
Belmont skip Cavan had to keep his rink in the game and they won ends eleven to sixteen to bring the score back to 11-11.
A count of four shots on end seventeen sent McElroy ahead again and when holding five the next end, Cavan got a fortunate connection with his weighted shot to claim one for his side. It was all in vain as the Dunbarton rink held on for a crucial 18-12 win.
How damaging the two home defeats to Ballymena and Belmont will be to Dunbarton only time will tell. Having lead the table from the opening fixture at the end of April, their destiny is no longer in their own hands as they await results from other games. The answer to that question could come down to when Ballymena play Belmont on Saturday 30th July.