POV 9 IBA Cup last 16 and PG Senior Cup Quarters


PG Senior Cup

Ards v Larne

Dunbarton v Falls

Willowfield v Ewarts

Pickie v Old Bleach

3 of the 4 matches are duplicate fixtures from within a week. Ards were hammered by Larne last Saturday and I expect the same tonight. Willowfield beat Ewarts on Saturday by 8 shots so there isn’t a lot separating the 2 teams and I expect another close one. Dunbarton have proven to be vulnerable at times this season and Falls are flying in division 2. Despite all that I expect Dunbarton to win at home. Finally we have Pickie vs Old Bleach, a fixture that is repeated again on Saturday in the league. Pickie are proving to be a good team this year and will be a very tough challenge at home. If pushed to make a prediction I’m going with Pickie to win tonight.

IBA Senior Cup

Dromore v Ballymena

Belmont v Cookstown

Coleraine v Larne

Carrickfergus v Dunbarton

Only 4 PG teams left in the last 16 and 3 face tough away trips this weekend. Ballymena probably have the easiest on paper against division 2 Dromore, but who knows what the green will be like! Belmont are at home to Cookstown who will be a stern challenge as they top the NIPBA division 1. Coleraine are also flying high in NIPBA division 1 and as a result I think Larne have the toughest task of the four. Carrick are mid-table in NIBA division 1 and if the good Dunbarton turn up they will likely win.

IBA Intermediate Cup

Belmont B v Ballymena B

Ballywalter v Downpatrick

Salisbury v Shorts

Westmanstown v Hilden

7 PG teams left and 6 of them face PG opposition. Ballymena B beat Belmont B comfortably earlier in the season and I expect the same on Saturday. Ballywalter at home will likely be too strong for Downpatrick. It will be the same story at Salisbury with the home team too strong for Shorts. Hilden have a nice day out against Westmanstown who are mid-table in division 2 of the BLI.

IBA Junior Cup

Portadown v PIckie

U Transport v Whitehead

Ballymoney v Falls

Dunbarton v Cookstown

Old Bleach v Dunluce

Forth River v Balmoral

Pickie and Falls face tought trips away from home. As much as I hope I’m wrong I think Whitehead will be too strong for Transport. Dunbarton and Old Bleach can make home advantage count while Forth River face a Balmoral team who haven’t won in divison 2 of the NIBA. 

Division 1

A few shocks this week. Transport beat Dunbarton and it wasn’t even close with 16 shots the difference. Pickie then upset another of the pre-season favourites Ballymena with a 3 shot win at Ballymena. All rinks in that match were very close and the win puts Pickie in second. Old Bleach welcomed Belmont to Neillsbrook and were very fortunate to get a draw courtesy of a Belmont mistake with the last bowl. Old Bleach remain undefeated and with a 7 point lead at the top. Larne hammered Ards at Ards and the 7 points jumps them up to fourth. Ards are bottom of the table now but still within reach of safety. Willowfield made it back to back wins with an 8 shot win over Ewarts and are now out of the relegation places.

Larne v Willowfield

Belmont v Ards

Pickie v Old Bleach

Dunbarton v Ballymena

Ewarts v U Transport

Larne will be looking for another big win against a team at the bottom while Willowfield are seeking a third win on the bounce. Belmont will be expecting a win against bottom placed Ards. Top of the table clash this week at Broadway when Old Bleach visit Pickie and a repeat of the PG cup match on Thursday night. I think Old Bleach edge this one. Amazingly Dunbarton v Ballymena is a mid-table clash and both are looking to bounce back from shock defeats. Ewarts are still looking for their first win of the season though Transport will have different ideas as a win gives them a decent gap from the relegation places.

Division 2

Ballywalter hammered Comber by 64 shots to take all 7 points. Cliftonville made the short trip to Forth River and left with 6 points. Hilden surprised NICS to win by 1 shot but with 3 rinks up deserved their win. Falls consolidated their top spot with an excellent 7 points against Castleton. Mossley handed Salisbury their first home league defeat of the season and now have a 6 point gap to third.

Castleton v Mossley

NICS v Falls

Cliftonville v Hilden

Comber v Forth River

Salisbury v Ballywalter

Castleton have lost their last 3 and Mossley will expect to get a win to stay in the promotion places. NICS host leaders Falls and need a win to stay in touch. Cliftonville and Hilden are both coming off good wins and the winner creates a good gap over the relegation places. Comber are still seeking their first win and this might be their week when Forth River visit. Salisbury host Ballywalter in a tough match to call but I think Salisbury at home edge it.

Division 3

Shaftesbury had an easy win over PSNI with an 86 shot win with Simpson’s Stars reaching 40 shots scored. Shorts had an excellent 6 point win over Saintfield in a match that I thought might be closer than the eventual 37 shots. Ballymena B faced a tricky trip to Gallahers but a comfortable 7 point win sees them stay at the top of the table. Cavehill bounced back from their loss to Gallahers with a 6.5 point win over North Belfast.

Ballymena B v Cavehill

Belmont B v Gallaher

Saintfield v Knock

Shaftesbury v Shorts

N Belfast v PSNI

Ballymena B should be too strong at home for Cavehill this week. Belmont B v Gallaher could go either way and it depends on which side turns up. Saintfield are unbeaten at home and will likely beat travelling Knock. Shaftesbury host Shorts and need to beat them to stay in the hunt for promotion. North Belfast face a PSNI team that don’t win away from Newforge and a home win would see North Belfast distance themselves from the relegation battle below.

Division 4

On Saturday the top 3 of Larne, Downpatrick and Dunbarton all recorded home wins and a gap of 7 points had opened up between Dunbarton in third and Pickie in fourth. Pickie lifted 5 against Ballymena C while Old Bleach made the trip to Kincora and took 6 off Belmont C.

In an extra round of fixtures on the Tuesday night that almost caught me out, Downpatrick hosted Larne in a top two clash and won by 44 shots to lift all 7 points. With Dunbarton having a bye Downpatrick are 7 points clear at the top with a match more played. Pickie made it 4 wins in a row when they beat Belmont C. Willowfield shocked me. Not by beating Falls, but by the margin of their 47 shot 7 point win. Old Bleach hosted local rivals Ballymena C and took all 7.

Willowfield B v Larne B

Falls B v Belmont C

Old Bleach B v Pickie B

Ballymena C v Dunbarton B

Downpatrick v Belfast

Malone have a bye

Larne need to bounce back from their midweek loss and Willowfield is a tough place to go to recover form, especially with the home team on a high after their win over Falls. Falls will be glad to get back to Fruithill after 2 away losses. Their opponents Belmont C have lost their last 2 as well so at least someone should get a win this week. Old Bleach need to make home advantage count against a Pickie team looking for 5 in a row. Ballymena C are just above relegation, but visiting Dunbarton need to keep winning if they want to stay in touch at the top. Downpatrick v Belfast is the proverbial home banker and the question will be how many.

Division 5

Transport beat struggling Comber away and the 7 points helped them close the gap to the top. Forth River beat Cliftonville away. Albert Foundry ran Ards close but fell 6 shots short. Mossley hammered Cavehill with Harbinson’s heroes getting a 24 shot win. Ewarts recovered from their loss at Comber to beat struggling Shaftesbury. Hilden went to Kincora and left with 6 points.

Tuesday night saw another twist with Transport beating Ewarts comfortably and move within 1.5 points of Ewarts in third. Ards won another close one on the road and Cavehill will consider themselves very unlucky to have drawn 2 rinks and lost the other 2 by a single shot. Shaftesbury finally got a win away at Comber. Hilden made it 4 wins in a row with a home win over Forth River.

Cavehill v A Foundry

Ards v Belmont

Hilden v Cliftonville

Forth River v Comber

Mossley v Ewarts

U Transport v Shaftesbury

Cavehill remain the only team in the division without a win but this might be their week when Albert Foundry make the short trip. Ards have survived a few close calls recently but I think this week they will win comfortably against Belmont D. Hilden host Cliftonville and depending on the teams fielded I think there will be a home win. Forth River should beat struggling Comber. Mossley face Ewarts who have gone off the boil recently. U Transport will be looking for a big win against Shaftesbury to close the gap on the top 2.