BOWLS: Bangor and Whitehead clash in NIBA Senior Cup

Bangor Skip, Robert Hastings
Bangor Skip, Robert Hastings

It’s a battle of the giants at The Grove on Thursday night when Bangor and Whitehead go head to head in the final of the NIBA Senior Cup.

Whitehead, who lifted the trophy for only the fourth time last season, beating Lisnagarvey in the final, will be hoping to turn the tide against the past masters.

The Seasiders have already written their little chapter in the history of the tournament, being the only team to have racked up a hat-trick off victories in 2003-2005.

Overall, they have paraded the title on 15 occasions, the last back in 2014 following their victory over Dundonald, who were appearing in their first final.

In contrast, even though Whitehead scribbled their name on the trophy for the first time back in 1979, they were starved of success until they defeated Kilkeel in the 2002 final.

The east Antrim boys regained the title in 2006 and were again on the winners’ rostrum last season.

However, they have endured their fair share of heartache in recent times was they have been beaten finalists on four occasions.

Bangor and Whitehead have met in the decider twice before and it was the blue and yellow ribbons that were draped on the silverware following those finals in 2005 and 2007.

And, just to rub salt into their wounds, sandwiched in between those defeats, Whitehead also lost to Divis!

The Seasiders will be missing young Matthew Hastings - he will be attending a wedding - otherwise, team selection will be along the same lines as last time out, while their opponents will be a full strength.

“It should be a great final,” said Robert Hastings. “We’ve had a good run in the cup in recent years, so it would be nice to keep that going.”

Meanwhile, Whitehead will also contest the NIBA Junior Cup final against Balmoral at the same venue.

They have been heavily involved in the tournament in recent seasons, having won the cup on four occasions since 2005 and suffered defeat in three finals.

It was neighbours Carrickfergus that inflicted their latest dose of agony 12 months ago.

However, Balmoral have been down the road before, having triumphed in 2011 and 2013. It has the makings of an intriguing contest.

Thursday (July 7): NIBA Senior Cup final: Whitehead v Bangor.

NIBA Junior Cup: Balmoral v Whitehead.