The trend of zones not successfully defending titles continued last weekend with Mid-Ulster’s shock defeat at North West.
It was an outcome which even members of the North West team did not envisage with the result that a couple of their players will be on holiday on semi-final day.
It was a case of North West being more aggressive,taking their chances, shots given away and below par performances from players. Yet in the end it was a game which was close to pulling out with the last couple of bowls finally deciding the outcome.
On mat 1 Mark Wilson, John McKay, Trevor Turkington and Brendan Kyne were always in control against Richard Service . From being 3 – 1 down at the 3rd end they dominated the rest of the game to finish 15 – 4 up. On mat 2, Sean Quinn, Danny McStravock, Seamus McGlinchey and Chris McKnight met John Kennedy a game Mid-Ulster could have won but for some unfortunate turn overs. It was a game of single shots except for the 3 Kennedy scored on end 9 to win by 8 – 4.
On mat 3, Damian McElroy, Seamus Kyne, Damian Grimes and Robin Clarke met Brain Rankin and were somewhat fortunate tocome out with a narrow win, despite missing some opportunities. They found themselves 8 – 3 down after 8 ends but a 4 and a 2 on the last two ends saw them through 9 – 8.
At the interval Mid-Ulster had recovered from being 10 – 1 down to lead 28 – 20.
With the previous performances of second half rinks the expectation was that Mid-Ulster would go on to book a semi-final place but, from the very start, it was clear that North West were going for everything.
Their leads were much more aggressive and much more successful in ditching the jack. This was very evident in two of the games.
On mat 1 Alan Paul, Clark Hill, Glen Smith and Nicholas Barnes met Keith McCullagh. The Mid-Ulster rink had slightly the better of
things and led 7 – 3 after 6 ends only to see a count of 3 being converted into a loss of 3 when McCullagh’s delivery was fortunate in promoting a bowl. After 9 ends Mid Ulster still led 9 – 8.
On mat 2, Colum McHugh, Tommy Johnston, Gary Merron and Damian McAllister led throughout against Leigh Harrison and, but for the loss of a 4 on the 8th end, would have had a more convincing win that 13 – 10.
On mat 3, the real damage was done. Last season the Mid Ulster rink proved to be the most successful but Dayne Jordan, Liam McHugh, Aaron Ward and Colin Hogg came up against Ryan’s O’Neill’s rink which had a game plan and carried it out to perfection. It was a simple one, ditch the jack from the outset and they would win. End after end Eddie Jamison did just that and, frankly, the Mid-Ulster rink could not answer the tactic.
They were outbowled and perhaps fortunate not to lose by more. With the rink down 17 – 1 after 6 ends the onus was on the other two rinks to build leads.
With O’Neill’s rink picking up what was to be a crucial 2 on the last end to win 19 – 5, it was down to Alan Paul’s game to decide the outcome. Colum McHugh’s rink had pulled back 5 shots on the last 2 ends and with Paiul’s 2 on the 9th the 9 shot deficit was down to 2. Paul lay shot and needed one for a tied end. McCullagh burnt the end. Mid-Ulster lay a definite one and possible 2 only to see McCullagh pick up the shot to square the game 9 – 9.
Mid-Ulster can have no real complaints about the result. They could and perhaps should have been further ahead at the interval but no-one could have forseen the second half outcome.
On another day perhaps the home side might not have been as successful in their game plan but Mid-Ulster should have been able to deal with the more aggressive tactics with a greater degree of success.
M Wilson, J McKay, T Turkington,
B Kyne 15 - R Service 4
S Quinn, D McStravock, S McGlinchey, C McKnight 4 - J Kennedy 8
D McElroy, S Kyne, D Grimes, R Clarke 9 - B Rankin 8
A Paul, C Hill, G Smith, N Barnes 9 -
K McCullagh 9
C McHugh, T Johnston, G Merron,
D McAllister 13 - L Harrison 10
D Jordan, L McHugh, A Ward, C Hogg 5 - R O’Neill 19
Parochial moved a step closer to winning the GO League title with a comprehensive win over main rivals Cook High. The margin of victory was unusually high, the result of D McElroy’s 23 – 3 win over D Jordan.
Despite the High’s 11 points at St Joseph’s, it will take a surprising turn of events if they are to overtake their rivals. Parochial followed this with a win at Maghera which leaves the Maghera side in a precarious position.
Lafarge Community gave themselves some breathing space with a win at Derryloran, while Tamlaght cemented third place with 10 points at Kildress.
In Section 2, Lisnagleer surprisingly lost at home to St Swithin’s Mixed, while St John’s just overcame RBL.
The finals will take place on Friday in Christ Church in Castledawson, starting 7pm.
Entry forms for zone mixed pairs and rinks have been circulated. The rinks is limited to 16 and places will be allocated on a first-come basis based upon entry fees coming with entries. Rinks entries are by entry form only.