Coleraine returned to the summit of the Progressive Building Society NIPBA Senior League after a hard fought 6-1 home win over Portglenone.
The Lodge Road side named an unchanged team from the midweek Piggot Cup win over City of Derry, whilst Portglenone would be out to put on the same kind of performance they had in midweek, were they currently lead Portrush by nine shots with 18 ends across the green to be completed.
It was an edgy start from both sides as Portglenone opened up an early lead before extending the gap to 11 shots around the half way stage. However, the Coleraine side launched their now customary comeback as they gradually reeled in their opponents, with the Bannsiders riled into action. In the final third of the game the noise levels picked up as the Lodge Road lads cut the deficit before pulling away from the Portglenone side to run out 10 shot winners in what was a terrific comeback from the home side.
The rink of Mark Mason, Tony Blair, Stephen Brewster and Jonny Calvin put in another good shift this week after an excellent win over Roy Hunter’s men. Having been nip and tuck for the early part of their game, Jonny’s rink were two shots adrift of their opponents after 11 ends, but the home foursome kicked on and only lost one more end to finish up 26-10 winners to lay the foundations for the rest of the rinks. On rink one, Richard McDermott’s four fell to their first defeat since their loss on the opening day of the season. Hugh McCallum, Gareth McConnell, Basil Kennedy and Richard were 6-1 down after five ends before cutting the deficit to three shots after 11 ends. Sadly for the Coleraine rink, they slipped further behind and Chris Jones’ rink finished up 20-9 winners.
Victor Dallas led his rink of Jordan Dallas, Jim Duncan and David Reilly to a very good win over Keith Padgett’s foursome. Having been five shots behind after 11 ends, Dallas’ men put the pressure on their opponents and regained the lead in the 17th end before sealing a hard fought 18-14 win. Over on rink three, Ally Davison’s four also sealed a comeback win having been 18-11 down with three ends remaining. Paul O’Neill, Jimmy O’Neill, Alan Irwin and Ally dug deep and showed their fighting spirit as they lifted a three, four and a single in the last few ends to complete a 19-18 win, ensuring the six points for the home side.
Coleraine regained their leadership of the Senior League table, moving four points clear of Portrush, who have to complete the remaining ends of their waterlogged match with Portglenone. It was another superb comeback from the Bannsiders who are showing great team spirit coupled with a strong determination in their games this season. They now take a break from league duties as they travel to face NIBA side, Ormeau in the Irish Cup second round; following last season’s disappointing third round exit away to Pickie, the Coleraine men will be out to make amends.
It capped a great week for Coleraine, who eventually progressed to the semi-final of the Piggot Cup after a hard fought win over City of Derry at the Lodge Road on Thursday night. The Bannsiders didn’t quite reach the performance of previous weeks but they will be glad to continue their excellent start to the season as they made it five wins on the bounce.
It’s cup action this Saturday and it has been a long time since nine NIPBA clubs made it through to the second round of the Senior competition.
Ballymoney face a long journey south to take on Aer Lingus with the lads from the ‘Toon’ confident of progressing. Dunluce also head south but face a tougher ask against Crumlin. Meanwhile Brookgreen entertain Kenilworth, who also play in Division One of the BLI.
Ballycastle have a tough home draw against six time winners Willowfield and City of Derry host Shaftesbury of the NIPGBL.
Limavady are on the road to Larneto face Curran, Portrush will be confident of a win at Dromore, Portglenone face Nortel and Coleraine will be hopeful of a win at Ormeau.
There are 10 clubs left in the Junior Cup and at least two of them will be in round three as Fairhill received a bye and Dunluce take on Portrush. Coleraine renew acquaintances with Railway Union of the BLI.
Brooke Park are also at home against a BLI side as they take on Shankhill, as are Letterkenny who face off against St James’ Gate. Ballymoney will be hoping home advantage stands them in good stead against Hilden. Kilrea are also at home against Antrim.
Limavady travel to NIBA side BETS as are Magherafelt who take on Sydenham.
Times Sport wishes all the NIPBA good luck!