Coleraine fell to a narrow three shot defeat against Ballymoney in their opening fixture of the NIPBA Senior League season in front of a big crowd at Lodge Road on Saturday.
The Bannsiders had a raft of new signings in their ranks with David Gaile and Ian Ross signing from Brookgreen, along with Joe McCarry from Ballycastle. Hopes were high of a good start to the league season, however, Ballymoney are always a threat and they would be out for revenge having suffered a 6-1 reversal at the hands of Coleraine last season at the Lodge Road Green.
Coleraine opened up an early 10 shot lead to take command of the game before the visitors halved the deficit after five ends played. It was a similar story at the halfway stage as the home team led by six shots as they struggled to break free from their rivals. With five ends to go, Ballymoney were 11 shots in the lead having swung the tie in their favour before the Bannsiders staged a late comeback and so nearly claimed six points, falling to a disappointing three shot loss.
Ian Ross led his rink of Mark Mason, Alan Irwin and Ally Davison to an excellent win over Gary Kelly’s foursome. Having stormed into an early 11-0 lead after four ends of play, the visitors cut the deficit to six shots after eight ends. However, the Coleraine rink took command of the match once again as they extended their advantage to 11 shots after 10 ends played before Kelly’s men came within three shots of their hosts with five ends to go. Ross’ rink weren’t to be outdone as they sealed a 24-20 win.
It was a disappointing day at the office for Victor Dallas’ men as they lost out by the narrow margin of two shots against Brian McAlary. Jordan Dallas, Basil Kennedy, Joe McCarry and Victor struggled early on as they found themselves 11-2 down after seven ends before fighting back to 13-13 with seven ends remaining in their match. A further comeback was required from the hosts as they found themselves eight shots down with three ends to go, and despite lying five shots in the last end to tie their game, Brian drew fourth shot with his last bowl to condemn Dallas’ men to a 21-19 loss.
The rink of Mark Broderick, David Reilly, Stephen Brewster and Jonathan Calvin had a very good win over Willie McCaw’s four. Jonny’s men opened up a 7-1 lead after six ends before extending their advantage to eight shots at the halfway stage. Despite a spirited comeback from the visitors, reducing the deficit to four shots with five ends to go, the Coleraine rink stood firm and claimed an 18-10 victory. Over on rink one, David Gaile’s four had a tough game against Alistair Steele before losing out in their battle with their opponents. It was nip and tuck early on in their matchup as the home rink were three shots down after seven ends before Steele’s men increased the lead to 13 shots with five ends remaining. Despite battling hard Gaile’s foursome fell to a 23-10 loss.
It was a disappointing defeat for the Bannsiders as they had hoped to get off to a good start, however, the game could have gone either way and it is still early season for a new look Coleraine team. Next up for the Lodge Road men is a difficult away Senior League game against holders, Portrush at Ramore Head on Saturday.
Rink One: D.Gaile 10-23 A.Steele. Rink Two: V.Dallas 19-21 B.McAlary. Rink Three: I.Ross 24-20 G.Kelly. Rink Four: J.Calvin 18-10 W.McCaw.