Armagh on course to regain IIBA Women’s Inter-zone Championship

Pauline Beattie, May Cassells and Rachel Cassells
Pauline Beattie, May Cassells and Rachel Cassells

Armagh are on course to regain the IIBA Women’s Inter-zone Championship.

The Orchard County sent out another chilling warning that the McIlroy Cup is very much on their radar following an impressive win over Western at St Mattthew’s, Richhill.

Their title credentials will now be scrutinised in full with a difficult semi final outing at Christchurch against North West on January 18.

Armagh, still clearly smarting from final defeats by Donegal and Oriel over the past two years, are now clear favourites to land the trophy for the seventh time, but zone convener Flo McNally doesn’t buy into that.

“We’ve suffered a fair amount off heartbreak in this tournament, so we’ll not be getting carried away,” she said. “It’s a matter of taking one game at a time.

“Yes, we are in a good position. We’ve played well in this campaign, which started with a good first round win over Oriel , which earned us a little revenge.

“We then defeated East Antrim without really being tested, but we had a tough match against Western at the weekend that we were delighted to come through.

“We’ll now prepare for what will be another difficult match against a North West side that will be full of confidence following their victory over Mid Ulster.”

Armagh’s Rachel Cassells was the top performer in the first half against Western, skipping her rink to a 12-7 win over Janet Brown.

May Cassells also enjoyed a 7-4 success against Ellen Brogan, while Elizabeth Smyth and Western’s Catrina Bradshaw battled out an 8-8 draw.

The second half proved to be a much closer affair, with Catherine McMillen guaranteeing Armagh their spot in the last four with a 12-9 victory over Jean Carson.

However, McNally had to battle out a 6-6 result against Caroline Scott, while Pauline Beattie was also held to an 8-8 draw by Easter Forster.

Meanwhile, North West, who haven’t had their hands on the McIlroy Cup since 2005, returned home from Magherafelt, having defeated North West by 18 shots which suggests Armagh will certainly not have it all their own way later this month

Mary Douglas was North West’s top performer in the first half, skipping her rink to an impressive 13-7 win against Evelyn Wright. Mid Ulster hit back through Kathleen McKenna and Didi Young, who both enjoyed wins over Freda Hunt (12-10) and Patricia McCann (9-9).

But it was all one-way traffic in the second half, withFiona McDermott leading the charge with 15-7 success against Elizabeth Brown.

Karen McDevitt and Eileen Wallace maintained the trend by beating Sheila Anderson (13-9) and Bridget Davidson (11-8).

Results: Irish Indoor Bowling Association Women’s Inter-zone Championship, quarter finals:

Mid Ulster 52 North West 70; Armagh 53 Western 42; Donegal 46 Foyle 51; North Eastern 57 Monaghan 47.

Semi finals (January 18): North West v Armagh; Foyle v North Eastern.

Plate tournament: Mid Antrim 46 Northern 49; Mid Down 34 Cork 60.

o The opening action of a revolutionary Short Mat Irish Tour got under way at Cookstown last night.

With a top prize of £500 up for grabs, the singles event, run in conjunction with the Cookstown Council, caught the imagination of local bowlers, with the ‘house full’ signs up for the remainder of the week.

“We have restricted the entries to 256 and we are already over subscribed,” said Seamus Kyne, one of an eight-man committee who organised the event. “With 64 players involved each night (Monday-Thursday), the winner of each group will qualify for the finals on Friday. At a time when a number of tournaments are in declined, this is an attempt to put back much needed interest and it appears to be working. And ee have another tournament planned for the Baker Stadium in February.”

The eight man organising committee are: Kyne, Gerry O’Hare, Jim Pinkerton, Ryan O’Neill, Dermot McMahon, Cecil Dillon, Kevin Conroy and PJ Gallagher.

Bowls results . . . .

Belfast Indoor Bowls Club’s Specsavers Men’s Leagues

Monday: M Brown 20 R Dunbar 3, D Hamilton 21 W Meehan 8, M Kirkwood 18 JJ Leonard 6, J Frazer 11 A Roberts 13, A Robinson 12 R Walker 10.

Thursday: J Nutt 11 S Malcolmson 9, D McCandless 17 S Elliman 16, D Smyth 10 D McCluskey 12, A Bailie 11 JH Campbell 15, A Fee 16 C Donnelly 17, D Linton 13 F Simpson 8.

Friday: P Prunty 22 E McCourt 7, M Albert 10 C Craig 12, R McKitterick 11 N Mulholland 16, D Clarke 10 D Nelson 14, J Marshall 13 M Moorehead 9, N Hamilton 14 I McIntyre 6, H McFarland 12 W Meehan 14, D Simpson 13 S Adamson 10.

Men’s Saturday League: W Thompson 24 J McKelvey 8, M Dunlop 13 D Burns 9, A Briggs 14 H Johnston 13, W McCullough 2 A Coyle 24, B Nixon 19 M Irvine 6, M Gwynne 7 T Roberts 12, P McVeigh 28 B Kelso 3, G Finlay 10 M Merritt 19.75, A Bailie 9 J Herron 16.