Defending champions Coleraine face massive first round challenge

Coleraine captain Jordan Dallas celebrates his team's win over Ballymoney in the final of the Senior Cup at Belmont Bowling Club, the club first success at this level since 1921
Coleraine captain Jordan Dallas celebrates his team's win over Ballymoney in the final of the Senior Cup at Belmont Bowling Club, the club first success at this level since 1921

Coleraine’s Jordan Dallas admits it took a gigantic effort to win the IBA Senior Cup last season, but it’s going to require a herculean effort to retain the trophy this time around.

The Bannsiders defied all the odds to defeat Provincial rivals Ballymoney in an epic final last August to parade the famous old piece of silverware for only the second time since 1921!

It was an extra special occasion for Dallas as that little piece of history coincided with his 27th birthday. The Coleraine club was also celebrating it’s 110th anniversary, so it was genuine end of season fairytale stuff.

But the Provincial boys were brought down to earth with a severe jolt when they were drawn against three-time cup winners Dunbarton for their opening defence at Lodge Road on Saturday.

“They don’t come much more difficult,” said Dallas.

“The celebrations went on for quite some time last season, and rightly so. We were involved in a little piece of club history.

“It was quite a job to get our hands on the trophy after such a long period of time, but now we face a new challenge and this first game will be a massive test.”

Dallas agreed that it is the stand-out tie of the round.

“It’s the biggest game of the day, there is no question about that. The 2013 winners hosting the 2012 winners. I don’t think we could have asked for a more difficult tie in our defence of the trophy,” he added.

“They have a great cup pedigree and won all their league matches to date. I’ve already been in touch with Dunbarton’s Andy Hughes and Chris Mulholland about the game, so I’m sure it’ll be a great match and a good battle between two very good sides.”

The Bannsiders are boosted by the return of former Ireland international Russell Miller, who is back in the game after a long absence.

“He’ll prove to be a great asset for the club,” added Dallas.

“Russell hasn’t been involved for a few years, but he’s got the appetite back again. We’ve also brought in a young lad, Matthew Steen, from our B team.”

Coleraine are still currently unbeaten in the Provincial Senior Lewague and Dallas is hoping to keep the run intact.

He went on: “Our league form has been pretty good so far, we are three points behind Ballymoney having won all four matches, including a home win against Portrush and a difficult away game against Portglenone.

“However, we face a tough one away to Cookstown on Monday night, so we have two massive games coming up.

“Once again, we’ve a great team spirit about the place, the lads are all brilliant together and they’re a credit to the club.”

IBA Senior Cup, second round: Aer Lingus v Rathfriland, Ballycastle v Knock, Ballymena v Ballywalter, Ballymena Park v Old Bleach, Belmont v Dun Laogharie, CYM v Saintfield, Castleton v Bangor, Coleraine v Dunbarton, Cookstown v Comber, Crumlin v Belfast, Divis v City of Derry, Donaghadee v Ballymoney, Dromore v Kilrea, Ewarts v Sydenham, Falls v Lisnagarvey, Forth River v Banbridge, Kenilworrth v Bray, Leinster v Balmoral, Letterkenny v Meath, Lurgan v Cavehill, Musgrave v Dungannon, NICS v Hilden, North Belfast v Portglenone, Pickie v Belmont Park, Potadown v Castle, Portrush v Shorts, Salisbury v Carrickfergus, Shaftesbury v Malone, St James’s Gate v Blackrock, Ulster Transport v Mossley, Whitehead v Larne, Willowfield v Dundonald.

IBA Junior Cup, second round: Antrim v Comber, BETS v ICICYMA, Bnallycastle v Donaghadee, Belmont v Ierne, Blackrock/Railway Union v Shankill, Bray v St James’s Gate, Brooke Park v Clontarf, Carrickfergus v Greystones, Castle v CYM, Castleton v Pickie, Cloughey v City of Derry, Coleraine v Cavehill, Divis v Belmont Park, Downpatrick v Ballymoney, Dromore v Falls, Dunbarton v Willowfield, Dungiven v Crumlin, Holywood v Whithead, Larne v Brookgreen, Limavady v Bessbrook, Lurgan v Letterkenny, Mossley v Newcastle, Musgrave v Portadown, North Down v Banbridge, Old Bleach v Dunluce, Ormeau v Ballymena, Portstearrt v Castlerock, Rathfrriland v Lisnagarvey, Ulster Transport v Cookstown, Warrenpoint v Ards, Westmanstown v Portrush.


Northern Ireland Women’s Bowling Association Senior League: Banbridge 5.5 Divis 1.5, Ballyholme 6 Donaghadee 1, Ward Park 0.5 Dungannon 6.5, Holywood v Portadown postponed, Newcastle 3.5 Lisnagarvey 3.5, Whitehead 7 Lurgan 0.

Northern Ireland Women’s Bowling Association Junior League: Carrick 1 Castlepark 4, Ardenlee 0 Curran 5, Antrim Lawn 1 Dromore 4, Newry 5 Gilnahirk 0, Wedderburn 4 Lagan Valley 1.