BOWLS: Omens are not looking positive for Portush in IBA Senior Cup

Dunbarton's Gary McElroy
Dunbarton's Gary McElroy

The omens are not looking good for Portrush ahead of their IBA Senior Cup quarter final showdown against Dunbarton at Gilford on Saturday.

Three Provincial clubs have already been steam-rolled out of the tournament by the in-form Private Greens League boys -- and now Portrush find themselves in the firing line.

Current holders Coleraine were ushered out in their opening defence on their home green at Lodge Road before beaten finalists, Ballymoney were eliminated.

Then Cookstown failed to halt the runaway Dunbarton bandwagon, leaving the onus firmly on the shoulders of Portrush.

Dunbarton’s Gary McElroy insists his team will be taking nothing for granted in spite of their impressive run of results against Provincial clubs.

“Portrush are a top team with international players, so we’ll need to be at our best,” he said. “Their league form has not as been so consistent this season, but the cup is an entirely different matter.

“The sides met a couple of years back. We actually went on the win the cup after beating them at the quarter final stage at our place.

“But the season before that, they defeated us at Ramore Head, so it all points to being another tight game.”

With Belmont waiting in the semi finals on the eventual winners, there is a big incentive for both clubs to progress.

“We’ll be looking no further than the quarter final match,” insists McElroy. “We have what could be described as a defining week in our season coming up, with vital league games either side of the cup semi final.”

Dunbarton are only half-a-point adrift of Belmont at the top of the PGL Division One table, but crucially have played one game less. They will reach the summit tonight should they defeat Forth River.

But third placed Ballymena, the title holders, are currently only five points adrift of Dunbarton and have still to host the Gilford boys and Belmont.

“This time next week we’ll have a fair idea of where we are in terms of our league and cup double aspirations,” added McElroy. “We go to Ballymena next Tuesday . . . and we are also trying to rearrange a game against Old Bleach for Sunday or Monday.

“So there is a lot to play for over the next week.”

Meanwhile, Divis will clash with Old Bleach in the first semi final at Fruithill Park on Saturday.

It’s unchartered waters for the NIBA side. Even though they did win the cup back in 1942, semi final appearances have been few and far between in recent years.

“We produced a great performance in the last round to beat Pickie with an under-strength side,” said Divis’ Brendan Power. Gerard McGleave, Ronan Cregan, Sean Lagan and Patrick McCafferty were all on holiday.

“Even though we should be at full strength it will be a massive test against Old Bleach. It will require another top drawer showing.”


Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup semi final: Divis v Old Bleach (at Fruithill Park).

Irish Bowling Association quarter final: Dunbarton v Portrush.

Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup, semi finals: Ballymena v Limavady (at Old Bleach); Dungiven v Coleraine (at Limavady).

Private Greens League Senior Division One: Larne v Pickie, Forth River v Ulster Transport, Belmont v Falls, Willowfield v Ewarts.

Division Two: Hilden v Ballywalter, Belmont Park v Shorts, Mossley v Cliftonville, Castleton v Ards, NICS v Salisbury.

PGL Junior Division One: Knock v Belfast, Malone v Shaftesbury, North Belfast v Ballymena Park, Saintfield v Cavehill, Gallaher v PSNI.

Division Two: Pickie v Larne, Ulster Transport v Mossley, Old Bleach v Downpatrick, Falls v Belmont.

Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Whitehead v Donaghadee, Portadown v Dundonald, Castle v Lisnagarvey, Balmoral v Bangor.

Division Two: Rathfriland v Whitehead B, Rathfriland v Balmoral B, Dromore v Newtownabbey, Newtownabbey v Sydenham, Londonderry Park v Carrick.

Division Three: Ormeau v Cloughey, Ulster Maple Leaf v Curran, Carrick B Banbridge B, Clarendon, v Musgrave, Bessbrook v Markethill.

Division Four: St Stephen’s vv Holywood, Norrth Down v Glengormley, Queen’s Island v Newcastle, Lisnagarvey B v Antrim, Annalong v Finaghy.

Division Five: Newry v Rathfriland B, Divis B Lagan Valley, BETS v Lurgan B, 1st Ballymacarrett v Portadown B, Warrenpoint v Dromore B.

Division Six: Donaghadee B v Ballynafeigh, Windsor v Gilnahirk, 9th Old Boys v McQuistion Memorial, 58th Old Boys v Musgrave B, Curran B Castle B.

Provincial Senior League: Portglenone v Ballycastle, Ballymoney v Cookstown, City of Derry v Letterkenny, Dunluce v Coleraine.