North West can’t afford another slow opening in zone semi-final

Armagh's Catherine McMillen is preparing for a tough test against Western
Armagh's Catherine McMillen is preparing for a tough test against Western

North West may be forgiven for assuming their name is on the McIlroy Cup this season!

They have already produced their own version off the great escape in the opening two rounds of the tournament, but know they cannot afford to again rely on their powers of recovery in tomorrow’s IIBA Women’s Inter-zone quarter final clash against Mid Ulster at St Pius, Magherafelt.

Having produced a late surge to claim a four shots win over Northern in their opening match, North West were staring down the barrel of an embarrassing home defeat to Mid Tyrone on November 30, trailing by a massive 26 shots at the break.

But they again summoned up a fantastic second half revival to claim an astonishing one shot victory.

“We can’t let it happen for a third time,” said North West’s Colleen Cochrane. “We were 16 shots down against Northern in the first game . . . . and then 26 adrift in the second at home to Mid Tyrone.

“The team must be given great credit for showing great resilience and not dropping their heads in both games. Karen McDevitt worked miracles in our last match to help get us out of trouble.But the reality is, we cannot afford to let it happen again, especially against a team like Mid Ulster.”

The North West selectors have reshaped the team, forming a new rink, which will be skipped by Eileen Wallace. She will have Annie McElhinney, Margaret Lucy and Margaret Greive in front of her.

“There have been a few other positional changes, so hopefully, they’ll work,” added Cochrane. “We’ll be going to a new venue at Magherafelt, so that will make it even more difficult. Basically, we must avoid a repeat of our previous two first half displays.”

Meanwhile, having disposed of 2013 champions, Oriel, in the first round, Armagh will be looking to cement a spot in the semi finals by dumping out Western at St Matthew’s, Richhill.Following that impressive opener, the Orchard County team then enjoyed a 44 shots victory over East Antrim last time out.

With the experienced Pauline Beattie and Catherine McMillen on board, Armagh, who are now favourites to parade the trophy for the seventh time, look good for a semi final meeting against either Mid Ulster or North West.

“You can take nothing for granted in this game,” said Armagh’s Flo McNally. “We got off to a great start with the win over Oriel. It was also nice to get a little bit of revenge following the defeat in the final.

“We then defeated East Antrim without having to reach top gear, but this will be a totally different scenario against a Western side that claimed an excellent victory over Lisburn last time out. We may be classed as favourites, but there are still some excellent teams left in the last eight.”

North Eastern entertain Monaghan at Bushmills and home advantage could be crucial in this one with the eventual winners earning home advantage against either Donegal or Foyle, they meet at Cathedral Hall, Raphoe, on January 18.


IIBA Women’s Inter-zone quarter finals: Mid Ulster v North West; Armagh v Western; North Eastern v Monaghan; Donegal v Foyle.

l There are still places up for grabs in the open singles tournament organised by Mid Antrim bowler, Alan McComb, in memory of his late mother, Linda.

The venue is St Patrick’s Church Hall, Ballymena, with availability remaining for Monday and Tuesday, January 6 and 7. Proceeds in aid of the Hospice and Marie Curie Cancer Nurses. First prize is vouchers to the value of £200 with all competitors entered into a draw on finals night for a prize of £25 worth of vouchers.

Entries from Lorna McComb (07762162370) or Alan McComb (07753804028).