BOWLS: Bannsiders into final

Coleraine progressed to the final of the Piggot Cup after a hard fought win over North West rivals, Limavady at the Lodge Road.

The Bannsiders made a slow start to the game but soon grabbed the tie by the scruff of the neck to run out comfortable winners, and continue their excellent start to the season as they made it nine wins in a row.

The home side were forced into a number of changes from their midweek win over Ballycastle, with Sammy Connor Jnr dropping out and Ally Davison unavailable. Alan Irwin and Stephen Brewster came back in after work commitments forced them out of the last match. Limavady haven’t won the Piggot Cup since 1972, so they would be out to amend that record. The Roesiders had a superb comeback win over Curran last Saturday in the Irish Cup, so they would be coming to Coleraine in full confidence.

Despite their impressive wins over Ormeau and Ballycastle within the past week, Coleraine struggled to get to grips with the cup tie as Limavady took an early 12 shot lead after five ends. The Bannsiders huffed and puffed as they once again let an opposition team get a start on them and by the halfway stage, they found themselves trailing the visitors by 10 shots. However, as they have shown throughout this season, Coleraine have bouncebackability. The close knit squad have great team spirit and a desire to succeed, which has been clear to see this season and it helped them reel in Limavady over the second half of the game as they ran out 28 shot winners to seal their place in the final.

On rink one, Jonny Calvin’s foursome of Mark Mason, Tony Blair and Stephen Brewster had a very good win over Chris Wylie. Jonny’s men were always in command of their game as they opened up an 11-3 lead after 10 ends, this was extended to a 13 shot lead after 16 ends, before the Coleraine lads wrapped up a 27-12 victory to set down a benchmark for the other rinks. Alan Irwin had a good tussle with Wilfie Moore, having trailed 7-5 after five ends, the Irwin four dug deep to take a 17-10 lead after 12 ends. Both rinks traded shots over the remaining ends with Alan and his men securing an excellent 22-17 victory over the visitors.

The rink of Jordan Dallas, Jim Duncan, David Reilly and Victor Dallas had a good win over Sammy Corscadden’s foursome on rink three. The Coleraine boys found themselves 5-2 down after four ends before slipping 13-5 adrift of their opponents after nine ends, however, Dallas’ rink epitomised the current spirit in the camp as Jordan brought the mat up and the Coleraine boys proceeded to win 10 of the next twelve ends. A count of six was lifted on the 16th end to put them 19-14 in the lead on their way to an excellent 25-17 victory over the Roesiders. Richard McDermott’s men showed a lot of fight in their encounter with Adrian Barr as they fell to a narrow defeat having been behind for most of the game. Hugh McCallum, Gareth McConnell, Basil Kennedy and Richard found themselves 8-1 behind after five ends and then 17-10 down after 16 ends, however, they fought back over the remaining ends to cut the deficit to 17-14.

Coleraine will be delighted to have reached the final of the Piggot Cup, were they face Bushmills side, Dunluce. The game is due to take place on Saturday 16 June, most likely at Ballymoney BC, with Coleraine competing in the final for the second time in three seasons, disappointingly losing out to Ballymoney back in 2010.

The Bannsiders will have to crack a tough nut in the shape of Dunluce, however, they will look to bring back the Piggot Cup to the Lodge Road for the 13th time and the first since 2006. The Bushmills outfit secured their place in the final with a convincing 33-shot win over holders Portrush.

Dunluce won on three of the four rinks on the night. Uel McKeeman beat Simon Colvin, Mervyn McKeeman saw off Ian McClure and Barry Kane beat Jackie Smyth.

Both Coleraine and Dunluce had good wins in the NIPBA Senior League last week. Table toppers Coleraine, who are chasing their first win since 1994, saw off Ballycastle by 50 shots at Lodge Road. Alastair Davison led the way with an excellent 27-shot win over J McCarry.

Dunluce won on their travels at Brookgreen picking up six points following their 20-shot victory.

Elsewhere Ballymoney kept their title challenge on track as they won at Limavady by 41 shots. Portrush had Ian McClure to thank for their win at City of Derry as his 18-shot win was enough to give them four points as the host won the three other rinks.

Cookstown picked up six points on the road as they beat Portglenone by 10 shots. Meanwhile in Division One Ballymoney B beat local rivals Coleraine by nine shots.