Last Friday night saw the finals of the Northern Zone IIBA Championships take place at Ballybrakes Stadium in Ballymoney.
The large crowd was well entertained with many of the games going to the final bowl.
The big surprise of the night was when six year old Alex Jones and his slightly older partner Matthew Williamson lifted the Junior Pairs Cup with a fine win over the more experienced Shea Martin and Adam Stratton. In fact all of the juniors taking part gave good accounts of themselves and the future looks bright for the Northern Zone with so much talent coming forward.
In the Junior Singles Gary Kelly (Ballinrees) pipped Shea Martin (Marian) to win by 2 shots.
The over 55’s final was probably the most one sided affair of the night with Victor Millen and Norman Brewster (Ballinrees) out –gunning their opponents, Alwyn Stewart and Willie Knight (Moneydig).
In the Ladies Triples Pauline Curry, Jill McClelland and Elizabeth McKee (Kelly Memorial) were up against Amy Hunter, Jacqueline Jones and Liz McAuley (Finvoy Pres.) and although the Portrush trio started well it was the Finvoy three who forced the pace to come out 9 shots to 4 shots winners.
The Ladies Pairs saw Carole Paul and Margaret Johnston (2nd Kilrea) take on Liz Calvin and Eva McClements (Ballinrees). The Kilrea pair settled the better and raced into a commanding lead and try as they may the Ballinrees two eventually succumbed to their superior opponents.
The Ladies Singles was a real ding dong battle between Margaret Paul (2nd. Kilrea) and Heather Abuthnot (Montra). After ten pulsating ends they could not be separated but in the tie end with her last bowl, Heather drew the winning shot.
Again the Open Fours had the crowd on their feet when Adam Stratton, Margaret Johnston, Ivan Smyth and Nicky McCaw (2nd. KIlrea) played Jonathan Calvin, Ally Davison, Alan Irwin and Ian Ross (Loughanreagh). Loughanreagh took an early lead only to be pinned back. The lead changed virtually on every end and with one end to go the scores were equal. Try as they may Loughanreagh tried to move Kilrea’s lying bowl but without success and so the 2nd. Kilrea four won by 1 shot.
In the Open Triples Owen Steele, Stephen Brewster and Jonathan Calvin (Loughanreagh) took on Josh Hill, Raun Hill and Mark Shaw (Dunloy Pres.). On paper the Loughanreagh three looked the more experienced and so it proved as they had a relatively easy win over their opponents. Having said that, it was pleasing to see Dunloy’s lead, young Josh Hill playing his part and leading well.
In the Open Pairs Section 1 Jim Martin and Brian McAlary (Marian) were playing Alastair Steele and Owen Steele (Loughanreagh). The Marian drew first blood but Loughanreagh fought back and with 7 ends played they only trailed by 1 shot. The Marian pair however won the next 3 ends to run out winners.
In Section 2 of the Open Pairs Raun Hill and Mark Jones (Dunloy Pres.) were up against Ivan Smyth and Nicky McCaw (2nd. Kilrea).The first 6 ends saw the scores fluctuating from end to end but then the Dunloy duo took control and won the last 4 ends to become popular winners.
Two out of the three sections of Singles involved four players from Finvoy Presbyterian. In section 1 Joe Moore played Chris Jones. Chris raced into a good lead but Joe persevered and when the game went into extra time it was big Joe who played the winning bowl.
In Section 2 Mark Jones was up against Roy Hunter. Again this game produced some great bowling with no quarter asked and no quarter given. After 7 ends Roy held the lead by 1 shot and thus it remained to the end with Roy winning 10 shots to 9 shots.
Section 3 was won by Aidan Cassley (Marian) with a walk over.
Thanks to Brian Shaw for carrying out the umpiring duties not only tonight but on the play-off nights when Dennis Connelly and Robert Armstrong also came along to assist. And a big thank you to Convenor Edwin Irwin for all the hard work and dedication he gives to the Zone ably helped by his wife Elma. The Ladies Committee also deserve a word of praise for serving the lovely supper. The Northern Zone wishes all tonight’s winners the best of luck when they go to the National Finals at a later date.