Impressive Banbridge facing vital double-header against Dundonald

Banbridge's Aaron O'Keefe
Banbridge's Aaron O'Keefe

Banbridge was one of a handful of clubs that managed to beat the horrible weather conditions at the weekend to book their slot in the fourth round of the IBA Senior Cup.

With most of the programme washed out because of the torrential rain, Banbridge took full advantage, defeating Provincial side Kilrea by 35 shots to set up a home meeting with either Lurgan or Mossley on June 21.

It was the perfect start for what could be a crucial week for a club that has shown impressive form this season.

They are sitting only half-a-point off the top of the NIBA Division One table – behind Whitehead – and now face a midweek ‘double-header’ against Dundonald in what could be a vital phase in their push for silverware.

“We travel to Dundonald on successive nights, Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Banbridge’s Aaron O’Keefe.

“The first is a rearranged league game and the following night is the quarter final of the NIBA Cup. So it’s a big week. We defeated Clarendon by 40 shots last Friday night to book our place in the last eight of the cup tournament.”

Banbridge have certainly been the surprise package this season.

“We’ve lost only one league game, and that was at Whitehead,” added O’Keefe.

“But we’ve beaten Balmoral and Bangor at home. It’s nice to be sitting on the tails of the league leaders, but there is a long way to go.

“It was also good to get our IBA Senior Cup tie played on Saturday. We were fortunate because the rain stopped and the game was played in great weather.

“Next up is Lurgan or Mossley, but we’ve important games to focus on before that.”

The experienced Charlie Davis, who replaced the injured Brendan Davis, was Banbridge’s top performer against Kilrea, skipping his rink to a whopping 28-14 win over Ivan Smyth.

O’Keefe and Ian Gallacher also played a significant part by defeating David McCann (23-13) and Sean McLean (26-14).

Kilrea’s Tommy McCart prevented the home team from making it a clean sweep by carving out an 18-17 victory against Dan Buchanan.

Banbridge are joined in the fourth round by Divis, Dundonald, Portglenone, who won at Bray, and St James’ Gate, victors over Crumlin in Dublin.

Divis officials worked hard on their green to deem it playable due to the fact that Letterkenny were making the long trek from Donegal - but the Belfast boys duly went on to claim a 30 shots win.

“The green held up quite well in spite of the fact that the rain didn’t let up until about two ends from the finish,” said Brendan Power.

“We were up on all four rinks, so it was good to get back to a winning trend. Our form hasn’t been great of late, so this win will certainly help morale. We now face Shaftesbury or Lisnagarvey in the next round.”

Power was Divis’ top skip, claiming 29-16 win against Colin Mabon. Gerard McGleave and Patrick McCafferty ensured the visitors of an uncomfortable journey home by beating John Quinn (23-18) and James Marshall (23-18), while Ronan Cregan completed the job with a hard fought 22-18 success against Daniel O’Kane.

Meanwhile, Dundonald made the journey to soggy Salisbury, but had little difficulty in booking their place in round four, racking up an 89-55 win.

They now face Portrush or Dungannon next time out. Mark Foster was Dundonald’s top performer, skipping his rink to an impressive 27-9 win over Jim Warnock.

Jim Frazer and Norman McCabe also played their part by beating Garry Eaton (17-14) and William Watters (29-11).

Gary Eaton junior prevented the visiting team from leaving with a clean sweep by defeating Colin Orderley 21-16.

Irish Cup, fourth round (games to be played on Saturday, June 21): Ballywalter/Portadown v Larne/Ballycastle; Banbridge v Lurgan/Mossley; Divis v Shaftesbury/Lisnagarvey; Ewarts/Belmont v Portglenone; NICS/Cookstown v Dunbarton/Ballymoney; Old Bleach/Rathfriland v Balmoral/Bangor; Pickie/CYM v St James’s Gate; Portrush/Dungannon v Dundonald.

IBA Junior Cup, fourth round (games to be played on Saturday, June 21): Ballymena v Larne/Cookstown; BETS/Whitehead v Railway Union; Castlerock/Carrickfergus v Coleraine/Ballymoney; Dunbarton v Old Bleach/Portadown; Dungiven v Banbridge/Lagan Valley; Limavady v CYM/Antrim; Lurgan/Donaghadee v Cloughey; Pickie/Warrenpoint v Falls v Lisnagarvey.