Coleraine cruised into the semi final of the Irish Cup after a superb win over last year’s finalists, St James Gate at Lodge Road on Saturday.
The Bannsiders fully deserved their 31-shot victory over a strong ‘Gate’ side, having put in an excellent shift right across the green. A tough tie against NIPBA rivals, Ballymoney now awaits Coleraine in the semi final.
The Lodge Road side made two changes from the home win over Limavady last Monday night, with Mark Broderick coming back from Australia and Jimmy O’Neill back from injury, leaving Peter Irwin and Gareth McConnell as the two changes. St James Gate had already accounted for Ballywalter, Whitehead and Donaghadee in the competition, so Coleraine knew just how tough this game would be. The Dubliners would also be out to go one step further than last year’s narrow defeat in the IBA Senior Cup final.
With the rain affecting the start of the game, Coleraine took their time to settle in to the game as they took a narrow lead over the visitors. The home side led the Dubliners by four shots after five ends before extending the lead to nine, however, St James Gate soon pulled back into the game and levelled the scores at 40-40. The Bannsiders soon turned the game on its head as the Dallas rink turned the screw on their opponents and Coleraine opened up a 65-45 scoreline to put them in a commanding position before piling on more pressure on the BLI side to open up a 36 shot lead after 18 ends. The Lodge Road lads eventually clinched a superb 31 shot victory over a St James Gate side that are going for their seventh BLI league title in a row!
On rink one, Victor Dallas’ four were the tormentors in chief after an outstanding win over Richie Leonard’s rink to lay down a marker for the home team. The Coleraine lads were nip and tuck with their opponents early on, leading 6-5 after eight ends, however, Dallas’ men soon stepped up a gear and a count of four on the 9th end sent them on a run of 12 consecutive scoring ends! The front end of Jordan Dallas and Mark Mason built excellent heads on what proved to be a fast green, leaving the back end of David Reilly and Victor Dallas to add further misery to the Dublin rink.
They extended their lead to 20-5 after 14 ends to help put the team in a commanding position and a count of five on the 17th end left them with a 22 shot lead. Dallas’ men lost a single on the last end to break their 12 end scoring run, but having scored in 17 of the 21 ends, a jaw dropping scoreline of 31-6 over the 2011 British Isles Singles Champion’s rink dealt the Dublin side a fatal blow.
The rink of Hugh McCallum, Mark Broderick, Basil Kennedy and Richard McDermott had a good battle with Robbie Maher’s four to seal a draw. It was nip and tuck early on as both rinks traded the lead before McDermott’s foursome opened up a 14-11 lead after 13 ends, it was a lead they would hold until their last end when a single was enough to seal a 15-15 draw for the Gate boys.
Over on rink four, Ally Davison’s four had a good win over Stephen Millane, opening up a 10-3 lead after six ends to lay an early foundation. Paul O’Neill, Jim Duncan, Alan Irwin and Ally played some great bowls to keep the advantage over the visitors and despite the Dublin boys closing the gap to three shots after 12 ends, Ally’s men pushed on and a count of five on the 15th end left them with a 20-9 scoreline. The Coleraine boys kept going until the end to clinch a 23-13 win to leave Coleraine on the verge of a commanding win.
The rink of Tony Blair, Jimmy O’Neill, Stephen Brewster and Jonny Calvin had a hard fought game with Dominic Lloyd, with Calvin’s four finding themselves 12-3 down after seven ends. The Coleraine lads kept pegging away and were playing well enough as they fought back and cut the deficit to five shots in the 11th end, however, a disappointing loss of four in the next end left them further adrift. Full credit to Jonny and his men as they got right back into the game and they were only three down playing the last end and they lay the required three for a draw, only for Dominic to play an excellent bowl to take the shot and seal the visitors only rink win, 21-17.
Coleraine will be delighted at this excellent home win over a strong St James Gate side who are continually at the latter stages of the IBA Senior Cup. Coleraine were never behind in this tie and with a big crowd in to watch the quarter final tie, the Bannsiders didn’t disappoint as they sealed an impressive 86-55 victory over the visitors. It was a keenly contested affair played in glorious sunshine and in the right spirit of the game, compliments were also made about how well the Coleraine green was playing. A tough tie now lies in store for Coleraine as they face NIPBA rivals, Ballymoney in the IBA Senior Cup semi final, which is to be played at Old Bleach BC on Saturday 11 August.
It is Coleraine’s first semi final appearance since the mid-1990s when they had a run of four agonising defeats at that stage of the competition in an otherwise trophy laden spell for the Co. Londonderry side. It’s back to league duties on Monday night as the Bannsiders travel to Portglenone to keep the pressure on at the top half of the table before the Piggot Cup final against Dunluce on Wednesday night. Coleraine will be appearing in their second Piggot Cup final in three years when they step out at Portrush BC on Wednesday, hoping to lift the trophy for the first time since 2006.