North Eastern hit new heights by booking a place in the IIBA Women’s Inter-zone final following an impressive win over Foyle at Dunluce Parish, Bushmills.
Having built up a 13 shots lead at the break, the North Eastern ladies roared into their first ever final with an impressive second half performance.
They will now line out against North West at St Swithin’s, Magherafelt, on Saturday, February 15 on what promises to be a fantastic occasion for the zone.
However, it will be a daunting examination of North Eastern’s desire to hoist the McIlroy Cup. North West again flexed their trophy credentials with a thrilling one shot win over hot favourites, Armagh, at Christ Church, Limavady, a performance that suggests a sixth overall success with well within their grasp.
“We are thrilled to be in the final,” said North Eastern’s David Culbertson, who only took over the position of convener this season.
“We’ve had good wins over Mid Down, Monaghan and now Foyle, but the final will undoubtedly our biggest test.
“It’s been a great experience, reaching our first ever final. We won the Plate tournament back in 2001-02, but this will be very special, featuring in the McIlroy Cup final. The team deserve great credit.”
It was the experienced Alice Elliott and Pat Calvin who laid the foundation for the famous victory. They skipped their rinks to vital first half wins against Jill Lindsay (16-3) and Diane Stevenson (12-6). Alice Nutt kept Foyle in contention by beating Denise McIlroy 10-4.
In the second half, Ann McKillop and Jean Sharpe guaranteed North Eastern involvement in next month’s showcase decider by recording victories over Valerie Witherow (14-8) and Susan Johnston (12-5).
It meant that Lynn Hamilton’s 14-6 win against Nora O’Kane was of little consolation.
In the other semi final at Limavady, North West held their nerve to edge out five times winners Armagh.
Mary Douglas played a huge part in the success by racking up a superb 15-5 victory over May Cassells in the first half - a result that proved to be so crucial at the finish.
Armagh hit back on the two adjacent mats, with Rachael Cassells pipping Patricia McCann 9-8, while Elizabeth Smyth claimed a one shot win (7-6) against Freda Hunt.
North West found themselves under the cosh in the second half, with Pauline Beattie defeating Fiona McDermott 10-6. Irene Doone, replacing the unavailable Catherine Beattie, also played her part by chalking up an 8-5 success against Karen McDevitt.
But in a nerve-tingling finish, North West’s Eileen Wallace smuggled out a 7-7 draw with Flo McNally, which was good enough to edge her team over the line.
IIB Women’s Inter-zone semi finals
North West 47 Armagh 46 (R Cassells 9 P McCann 8; E Smyth 7 F Hunt 6; M Cassells 5 M Douglas 15; P Beattie 10 F McDermott 6; F McNally 7 E Wallace 7; I Doone 8 K McDevitt 5).
North Eastern 64 Foyle 46 (D McIlroy 4 A Nutt 10; A Elliott 16 J Lindsay 3; P Calvin 12 D Stevenson 6; A McKillop 14 V Witheron 8; N O’Kane 6 L Hamilton 14; J Sharpe 12 S Johnston 5).