League Cup Draws now available for 2018
No big shocks in the opening round of matches with Ballymena and Belmont making the early running with 6 points each. The rinks of Rodney Fiddis and Mark Leckey earned a point each for Ulster Transport and Willowfield respectively. Larne lifted 5 points at Ewarts with a 17 shot win thanks to 13 shot ups for both D McRandal and M Murphy. Ards lost a close one with Pickie by 2 shots. They will need to win a few of those close matches to stay up.
Belmont v Larne
Pickie v Willowfield
Dunbarton v Ards
Ulster Transport v Old Bleach
Ballymena v Ewarts
The match of the week at Belmont will show whether Larne can mount a challenge. Pickie will be aiming to make it 2 wins while Willowfield won’t want to wait too long to pick up their first win. Dunbarton are effectively starting their season against Ards who will be travelling in the hope of picking up a point or 2. Ulster Transport must make home advantage count against Old Bleach. Ballymena must be looking at the visit of Ewarts as an opportunity to top the table at 6pm but I think at some stage during the season Ewarts will cause an upset.
Ballywalter laid down a marker by travelling to Forth River and leaving with 6 points after a 26 shot win. Mossley finished strong across the green to claim 5 points by 6 shots against visiting NICS though the visitors won’t be too disappointed with 2 points. Falls started strongly with a 15 shot 5.5 point victory at home to Cliftonville. Salisbury entertained Castleton in a North Belfast derby and took the lion’s share of the points with a 5 shot win. Hilden hosted Comber and ran out comfortable winners against 14 men. Comber will be happy with 2 points under difficult circumstances.
NICS V Castleton
Cliftonville v Mossley
Comber v Falls
Ballywalter v Hilden
Forth River v Salisbury
NICS will be hoping to get started with a win over Castleton. Mossley face a difficult trip to Cliftonville and will be hoping to make a statement with a road win early. Comber need to pick up points at home but the visit of Falls might be a tough home opener. Ballywalter are the early front runners and will be aiming to stay top at 6pm with a win over visiting Hilden. Salisbury make the short trip to Forth River in an intriguing match up.
Shaftesbury started strong with 6.5 points at Knock as they look to retain their title. Shorts are the co-leaders with 6.5points against PSNI as they aim to seek immediate promotion. Ballymena B started strongly with 6 points at North Belfast as did Saintfield with their 6 points from their trip to Gallaher. Cavehill sneaked a close 2 shot win over Belmont B to claim 5 points.
Belmont B V Ballymena B
Saintfield v Cavehill
Shaftesbury v Gallaher
PSNI v Knock
Shorts v North Belfast
Home wins for Shaftesbury and Shorts against Gallaher and North Belfast respectively should see them still top the table. Ballymena visit the other B team in the division and I think will beat their hosts Belmont. Saintfield entertain Cavehill while PSNI welcome Knock in the other 2 fixtures and I can’t call either.
Pickie vs Falls was abandoned early in the game due to the sudden heart attack and subsequent passing of a Falls player. It will have been a traumatic experience for those in attendance and our thoughts are with them, the members of Falls and the family.
A 3 way tie at the top after 3 teams got 6 points. Larne lifted 6 with a good win against Belfast. Downpatrick travelled to Malone and won by 23 while Willowfield B popped over to Belmont C and won by 29 shots.
Downpatrick v Belmont C
Willowfield B v Pickie B
Falls B v Dunbarton B
Old Bleach B v Malone
Belfast v Ballymena C
Larne B have a bye
Downpatrick should make home advantage count against Belmont C. Willowfield B started strong last week and it should be a good match when Pickie B visit. Old Bleach should get their season off to a flyer against Malone while Ballymena C should hope for the same at Belfast. Falls B entertain Dunbarton B and will need to be on their game to win.
4 7 point wins out of 6 matches make this look like a division of have and have nots. Mossley, Hilden Ards and Forth River beat Ulster Transport, Comber, Cliftonville and Shaftesbury. Belmont D took 5.5 off Cavehill while Ewarts made the short trip to Albert Foundry and left with 5 points after a 5 shot win.
Mossley B v Belmont D
Cavehill B V Cliftonville B
Ards B v Comber B
Hilden B v Ulster Transport B
Ewarts B v Forth River B
A Foundry v Shaftesbury B
Mossley, Hilden and Ards will all expect home wins versus Belmont D, Ulster Transport and Comber. Ewarts against Forth River is a hard one to call, so I won’t. Albert Foundry should get a home win from Shaftesbury B. Cavehill B v Cliftonville is another North Belfast derby but this time I’ll go with the home team.
Thoughts for the week
This week saw us say farewell to our friend Bryan Magrath. He dragged bowls into the 21st century with his website and forum and rather than settle for just results, over the years he kept pushing the boundaries and added the PG teams, the Cup draws, Championship draws and the POV that we all take for granted now on the website. Those weren’t his only contributions to the game as he won several PG titles and his crowning achievement of lifting the IBA cup with Old Bleach. Off the green Bryan was a key part of the league restructure that we see now. He was a tough competitor on the green but also managed to be a gentleman at the same time.
The PG Trial team has been announced and with the retirement of Neil Booth and Brendan Thompson the selectors have 2 skips to find. They have also decided to have a look at a number of young players who have impressed in the Under 25s in recent times. All the best to those selected for the trial.