Boomer Cup holders, Armagh, crashed out of the tournament in the opening game of their trophy defence, beaten by Oriel at St Saviour’s Parish Church Hall.
Gerry O’Hare’s Oriel were still nursing a nasty hangover from last season’s final when they were undone over the final few ends by a battling Armagh, which ultimately cost them only their second ever IIBA Inter-zone title success.
They travelled north looking for revenge and they achieved it with a certain degree of panache, winning by 11 shots.
“The best team won on the day,” admitted Armagh’s Flo McNally.
“We were still very much in the game at the halfway mark, but Oriel really upped the tempo in the second half.
“It will take a good team to beat them. In fact, it would be no surprise to me if they went right to the final again.”
Oriel will now have home advantage against North Belfast on November 23.
O’Hare was thrilled with the win, stating: “We were victims of our own downfall in the final back in February. We didn’t want a repeat performance. Hopefully, that is now out of the system.
“We’ve added Sean Conroy to the side for the new campaign and I’ve no doubt he’ll be a big asset.
“It’s a solid start, but we’ll be taking nothing for granted against North Belfast next time out.”
Paul Duff was Oriel’s top performer in the opening half, skipping his rink to an impressive 16-7 win over Joe Beattie.
But dogged Armagh were not for letting their trophy go without a fight.
Mark Sproule enjoyed a 10-9 victory over Gerry McCabe, while Alan Roberts rackd up a 12-7 win against John Murnaghan.
Oriel put their foot on the gas after the interval. Sean Conroy marked his debut with an 11-6 win over Andrew Leckey.
Paddy Hanlon then eased the visitors over the line by beating Aidan Corrigan 12-6.
It meant that Mary Trainor’s 9-6 success over Kenvin Conroy was in vain. The holders were well and truly dumped!
Meanwhile, North Belfast produced the biggest first round shock by beating last season’s semi-finalists, North Down by nine shots at Greenisland.
And, Boomer Cup specialists, Mid Ulster, were forced to dig deep before they eventually shrugged off the challenge of battling Larne, winning by only eight hosts.
The game was still on a knife edge with only four ends remaining, with the score locked at 49-49.