The play off stage of the Junior Inter-Zone competition took place at the Ballybrakes stadium on Saturday 1st February.
The four teams competing in the qualifying stages were Donegal, Mid-Antrim, North-West and Northern .
In the first game Northern were drawn against Donegal. David Stirling and Gareth McLean started to pull away and had comfortable wins of 14–7 and 11–5 respectively. Anthony Clyde had more of a struggle to beat Jonny Crawford. However his rink played some excellent bowls to secure all five points by winning 11–9.
In the other game the highly rated North-West team beat Mid-Antrim 4-1.Northern faced Mid-Antrim and were never really challenged and all three rinks won comfortably, 40-10 and once again bagging all five points.
The stage was set for an exciting final against North-West. At the beginning the Northern team struggled to find form. Gareth McLean’s rink edged ahead but David Stirling was seven down and Anthony Clyde 10 shots down. However, when team captain David Stirling lifted a seven the Northern lads were once more back in contention . Tension was high as the young players produced some outstanding to play to draw level and then overtake the favourites to lead 28 – 23. But North-West clawed their way back and with the last rink left on the mat Northern were one shot down. Unfortunately, they lost two shots and were beaten by the narrowest of margins 29-28!
The Northern Junior team produced some excellent play and are to be congratulated on their performance this season. Much credit is due to the hard work of Chris Jones who coaches the members.
The Zone Committee hope that this will encourage young players in the area to enjoy bowls and appeal to all clubs who have under-18s to put their names forward for next season’s team. Team members were: David Stirling, Adam Stratton, Matthew Clyde, Gary Kelly, Gareth McLean, Gavin McLean, Cahir Loftus, Ronan Harris, Anthony Clyde, Shea Martin, Mark Guerney and David McConnell.