Coleraine claimed a full house of seven points on the opening day of the NIPBA Senior League season last Saturday against Kilrea at a sun splashed Lodge Road.
The Bannsiders, having claimed the Irish Senior Cup last season, would be out to make a good start to the Senior League campaign. Kilrea were promoted from Division One last season and would be out to prove a point that they can compete in the top flight of Provincial bowls.
It was the home side who opened up an early seven shot lead on their opponents before extending that advantage to 18 shots at the halfway stage.
Kilrea continued to battle and were pushing hard on two rinks, however, Coleraine moved 29 shots clear of the visitors with five ends to play before the Lodge Road men sealed all seven points and an impressive 41-shot victory.
On rink one, Victor Dallas’ four had an excellent victory against Ivan Smyth. Jordan Dallas, Mark Broderick, Russell Miller and Victor soon extended their advantage further as they moved 14-0 in front after nine ends played. Counts of four on the 12th and 14th ends sent Dallas’ men 25-2 ahead, and it took the Kilrea skip to play two great bowls on the following two ends to prevent the home quartet cruising past the 30 mark. After 21 ends, the Dallas rink had claimed a superb 28-8 victory.
The rink of Mark Mason, Joe McCarry, David Gaile and Ian Ross had a hard fought battle with Sean McLean on rink two. It was the home four who raced into a seven shot lead after five ends before McLean reduced the deficit to three.
The Kilrea rink kept plugging away and took a three shot lead with five ends remaining. However, Ian Ross’ rink are made of stern stuff and they proceeded to reel the visitors in before the Coleraine skip held his nerve and played a superb last bowl to draw the shot and seal a solid 24-22 win.
Over on rink four, Ally Davison’s men had a very good win against Harold Kelly’s quartet. Paul O’Neill, David Reilly, Alan Irwin and Ally found themselves two shots in arrears early on before they opened up a five shot lead.
Davison’s rink continued to apply pressure and lifted a count of five on the 15th end to move nine shots clear, a further count of four in the closing ends helped seal an excellent 30-13 win.
The rink of Matthew Steen, Basil Kennedy, Stephen Brewster and Jonny Calvin had a tough game against Declan McCann. It wasn’t the best of starts for Calvin’s men as they found themselves five shots down early on before they reduced the deficit to two shots after 11 ends played. With five ends to go, the Coleraine rink had opened up a two shot lead of their own before they sealed a narrow 16-14 victory.
It was a very good seven points for the Bannsiders as they open up their league campaign with a home victory over the newcomers, Kilrea, who themselves put up a brave fight to show they’ll be no pushover in the top flight.
The Lodge Road men will look forward to a titanic tussle at home to Portrush this Saturday, in what is sure to be a cracking game in the NIPBA Senior League.