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PGL CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI-FINALS AND FINALS 2015 REPORT
The Northern Ireland Private Green’s League Championships drew to their conclusion when Old Bleach Bowling Club hosted the semi-finals on Monday and Tuesday 27th and 28th July and the finals on Saturday 1st August. Having started with upwards of 450 entries across all competitions it was now down to the nail biting finish to see who would lift the coveted titles. Just as it had been for what seemed the entire summer season the biggest battle was going to be against the weather with both nights of the semi-finals forecast to be a washout; however, someone must have looked down kindly upon the competitors as both evenings matches were played unhindered by the weather. Certainly Monday was a drizzly damp evening but Tuesday even turned out a dry and pleasant evening.
Monday 27th July. – SEMI-FINALS STAGE 1
Rink1 – Senior Fours: This first semi-final saw the rink of Norman Shields, Derek Forsythe, Stanley Hagan and Ian Leonard (Northern Ireland Civil Service – NICS) take on the rink of J.R. Nicholl, Rod Coleman, James Hodges and Roy Torrington (Ballymena) and it was the Ballymena rink that stormed in to an early lead having scored 10 shots without reply. This was a lead that the Ballymena rink were to extend further and the result ended 24-5 in favour of Ballymena, the NICS players could just not recover the early lead built up against them.
Rink 2 – Open Singles: The was the first of the two singles semis held on the Monday night and featured an all Ballymena battle for a place in the final with Andrew Morrison, last year’s champion, take on his team mate Andrew Duncan and it was the title holder who go off to the better start with Andrew Duncan playing catch up right through the game. The match finished 21-12 and saw Andrew Morrison through to the final and in a position to defend his title.
Rink 3 – Open Singles: The second singles semi was another battle between two club mates from Dunbarton Bowling Club with Peter Convery take on his team mate Martin Trainor again for a place in the final. Just like the first semi-final and after a fairly even start one of the players stormed in to a commanding lead that the challenger could not claw back. Peter Convery took the game 21 shots to 10 and booked his place in the final.
Rink 4 – Pairs: The first of the pairs semi-finals featured Eadie and Battersby from Belmont Bowling Club, taking on the pair of Bailie and Palmer from Ballywalter Bowling Club. The Belmont pair on paper would have been firm favourites but bowls is never a game of certainties. It was a tough battle fought out over 21 ends and it was only in the last 3 or 4 ends that the Belmont pair got their noses in front to edge out a 23-18 victory and book their place for Saturday afternoon.
Rink 5 – Open Fours: This game featured the host club’s rink William Scott, Nigel McNally, Brian Trimble and skipped by Neil Booth (having taken over this duty after the passing of Bryan Magrath the club’s president at the start of the season) against an in form rink from Ewarts Bowling Club – Chris Mullen, Steven Mullen, David Cunningham and skipped by Robert McLean. This game turned out to be one of the most closely contested matches of the night with the Old Bleach rink picking up a few early shots before the Ewarts rink fought back to take a 2 shot lead in the first half of the game. The Old Bleach rink edged ahead again but the Ewarts rink were not about to lie down and fought back bring the game to within 2 shots with only 3 ends left to play. The Old Bleach rink lifted 5 shots to 1 against over the last few ends to take the match 23-17.
Rink 6 – Junior Singles (Under 25s): The first semi-final at 5.30pm saw Jamie Watson from Pickie Bowling Club, take on Jordan McBride from Comber Bowling Club with early exchanges from both players and the lead frequently changing hands with the young player from Comber seeming to get the upperhand. However young Watson from Pickie was not going down without a fight and lifted 8 shots in 4 ends to take the match 21-16 and secure the first spot in the final.
Rink 6 – Junior Singles (Under 25s): The second semi-final at 7.15pm had Jamie Watson’s Pickie team-mate Dean Mills take on one of Mossley’s young guns Ryan Bell to battle it out for that last spot in the final. Again it was another closely fought battle and some excellent shot play by both players that had the lead change almost on an end to end basis for most of the match. However, young Ryan Bell played a few crucial ends towards the end of the match to edge out Dean Mills by the same score 21-16 as the first semi-final.
Tuesday 28th July – SEMI FINALS STAGE 2
Rink 1 – Senior Fours: As day 2 of the semi-finals got underway at 5.30pm on the Tuesday rink 1 saw the second of the senior fours matches with Pickie Bowling Club take on the hosts Old Bleach Bowling Club – the rink of Rodney Nesbitt, Billy Girvin, John Mooney and William Angus against the rink of William Scott, Fred Anderson, William Patton and Nigel McNally. The match was fairly evenly tied over the first few ends before the Pickie rink started to get the upper hand on the home players and took a nine shot lead 19 shots to 10. The Old Bleach rink fought back valiantly and brought the game to within one shot 19-18 with only the last end to play and but for the roll of a bowl the Old Bleach rink might have found themselves in the final but it was not to be and the Pickie rink progressed through with a 20-18 victory.
Rink 2 – Triples: The first of the triples matches again had three players from the host club , Stephen Kirkwood, brother Robert and Michael Nutt up against three players from Pickie, Dean Mills, Jamie Watson and Don Mills. Again it was the Pickie triple that seemed to catch the green quicker and stormed in to 10-1 lead. The Old Bleach trio slowly fought their way back in to the game but could not quite get close enough to an inform Pickie trio who edged out a win 18 shots to 15.
Rink 3 – Pairs: The second pair’s semi had another Belmont duo – Daly and Martin up against Dunbar and Dornan from Newtownards. Again on paper the Belmont duo were the stronger and this played out on the green as they took a commanding lead from start to finish and won the game 29 shots to 12 and set up an all Belmont final on the Saturday afternoon.
Rink 4 – Triples: The second of the Triples semi-finals featured the Trainor brothers, Chris and Martin along with skip Michael Merritt from Dunbarton Bowling Club against Steven Shields, Graham Wilson and skip Andrew Morrison from Ballymena. Again another closely fought battle ensued over 18 ends but the Ballymena trio just seemed to have the edge and and closed out the game 15 shots to 10
Rink 5 – Open Fours – The second Fours semi-final featured the Larne contingent of Brian Smith, Gavin Johnston, Jason Kerr and skip Andy Kyle against yet again another Pickie rink – Ryan Cavan, Gareth Caughey, Peter Campbell and Marty Caughey skipping. Shots were exchanged by both rinks early in the match but the Larne boys just had the edge going in to the latter part of the game and despite the concerted effort to overturn the deficit the Pickie rink were just not able to catch Larne with the result ending 20 shots to 13 in favour of Andy Kyle’s rink.
Rink 6 – Youth Singles (Under 18s) – The first semi-final contested between the sport’s youngest players saw Cory Cameron of Cliftonville take on host club player Sam Barkley of Old Bleach. It was a tentative start by both players but it was young Barkley who caught the rub of the green and edged out young Cameron by a margin of 21 shots to 15. In the second semi-final young William Orr of Comber and young Adam McKeown of Mossley both only 14 years old took to the green to play the last of the semi-final fixtures and it was young Orr of Comber who stormed in to the lead and at one point was 18 shots to the good. However in what was most definitely the biggest come back of the two days young McKeown did not let the Comber player score another shot to edge out a 21-18 victory and set up a final against Sam Barkley.
Saturday 1st August – Finals.
The weather gods seemed to have favoured Old Bleach for the start of a full day’s bowls at Neillsbrook Randalstown with only 2 isolated showers the entire day. It was an early start with the first final commencing at 9.30 am on the Saturday with the Triples Final on Rink 3 – Andy Morrison (Ballymena) against Don Mills (Pickie). After the first 5 ends there was only one shot separating the two triples with the Ballymena trio just edging it 5 shots to 4. At 10 ends there still was not much between them with the score at 9-6 to Ballymena. However it was in the second half of the game that the Ballymena players moved up a gear and scored 11 shots for to 3 against to lift the first title of the day winning 20 shots to 9. The Pickie trio were just not able to repeat the game they had played in the semi-final. Except for the singles matches the remaining finals kicked off at 2pm. The Senior Fours on Rink 1 was another Pickie versus Ballymena final. At 3 ends it was 3 shots a piece, Ballymena edged ahead 9-6 after 8 ends but Willie Angus’s men fought back to lift a 3 on the 9th end and tie the game 9 shots each. By 15 ends there was but one shot between them as Roy Torrington’s rink edged one shot ahead 15-14 and by 20 ends it was 19-17 in favour of Ballymena. A hard fought last end by Pickie almost clinched them the two shots needed for a tied end but in the end they could only manage one and Ballymena were champions. The pairs on Rink 2 was the battle of Belmont with Eadie and Battersby taking on Daly and Martin. Paul Daly had been in this position with his old skip Brendan Thompson on many an occasion. Over the first 8 ends Chris Eadie and Roy Battersby were edging the game 6-5 but Daly and Martin lifted a 5 on the 9th end and this seemed to fire them up as they took the opportunity to consolidate their lead going 13-10 up after 12 ends, 17-12 up after 15 and lifting another 5 shot haul on the 18th end to go 24-13 up ending the match as pairs champions winning 26 shots to 13. The Open Fours on Rink 4 seemed to give the rink from the host club the early advantage over the Larne Rink as they stormed in to 10-1 lead after 7 ends and just 3 ends later they were 15-2 up with Neil Booth’s rink having picked up a four shot haul on both the 6th and 8th end. Despite their best efforts Andy Kyle’s rink could just not find a way back and the game ended with the Old Bleach rink Champions with a 20 shot to 7 victory. This was Neil Booth’s fifth rinks victory as an Old Bleach player the first won 20 years previous in 1995 which also featured Nigel McNally on the same rink. All of the remaining singles fixtures kicked off at 3.30pm with Sam Barkley and Adam McKeown taking to Rink 3 in the final of the Youth Singles. The first 7 ends saw one shot scored on each end shared out at 5-2 for Adam McKeown. Despite home advantage for Sam Barkley it was the Mossley player who pulled ahead 9-4 by the 12th end and 16-7 after 16. Adam lifted a further 5 shots without reply to win 21-7. The Junior Singles on Rink 6 saw Ryan Bell of Mossley take an early lead of 7-1 against Jamie Watson of Pickie after 4 ends but Jamie staged a fight back and after 8 ends had scored 7 shots without reply to take an 8-7 lead. Over the next 6 ends Ryan scored 9 shot for to 7 against to take back the lead 16-12 and scored a further 5 shots to 2 to lift the Junior Singles trophy winning 21 shots to 14. This was Pickie’s third final and third runner up. The Open Singles on Rink 5 between Andy Morrison of Ballymena and Peter Convery of Dunbarton saw a cautious start from both players with Andy taking a 4-2 lead after 4 ends and a one shot lead 6-5 by the 8th end. At this point something seemed to click for Peter Convery as he scored 12 shots without reply and picked up a full house on the 14th end to take an 11 shot lead going 17-6 up. Andy picked up 4 shots over the next couple of ends to pull the game back to 17-10 but Peter closed out the game to win 21 shots to 10 and lift the trophy for the Blue Ribbon event of the Championships.
The Northern Ireland Private Green’s League congratulate all those who won and wish them every success as they go forward to stage 2 and compete at the National Championships on the 4th and 5th September at Coleraine Bowling Club. We commiserate with all the runners-up but you can be proud that you reached the finals and provided an excellent quality of play. The GP committee would especially like to thank the Old Bleach Bowling Club for hosting the event and thank all their officers, volunteers, and staff for providing excellent facilities, a good surface for the players and for catering and feeding all the players, volunteers and officials over the three days. We would thank also Ards Bowling Club who along with Old Bleach Bowling club sponsored the Championships. We would also like to thank all the supporters from all the various clubs who came along over the 3 days to give their support to the players it was much appreciated by all players and certainly added to the atmosphere of the occasion.
Old Bleach Bowling Club would like to take this opportunity to thank Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council who kindly provided funding enabling us to cater for all those players who travelled from near and far.