Oriel beaten by inspired Armagh in Inter-zone final

CHAMPIONS: Armagh zone convenor Flo McNally with the Armasgh team
CHAMPIONS: Armagh zone convenor Flo McNally with the Armasgh team

Oriel suffered yet another shattering defeat in the IIBA Men’s Inter-zone final at Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church Hall at the weekend.

For the second successive year, their chances of winning the Boomer Cup were blown apart by a late surge from their opponents.

It was Mid Ulster who delivered the decisive blow 12 months ago. Armagh repeated the dose this time . . . the Orchard County zone turned in a devastating late burst the prise the trophy out of Oriel’s grasp over the final two ends.

“It’s a tough one to take on the chin,” said Oriel’s Gerry O’Hare. “We led for most of the game, but let it slip right at the finish.

“The game was similar to last season’s final. We have quite a few young lads in the side, so there is no reason why we can’t come back to finish the job.”

It looked so good for Oriel, who hoisted the Boomer Cup for the first – and only – time back in 2005, after building up a five shots lead at the interval.

But Armagh showed tremendous battling qualities, especially when the chips were down.

Derek Wright failed to throw in the towel when falling 11-1 adrift of Oriel’s Fra Dillon.

The Armagh skip picked up a single on the next, followed by counts of three and four. He was eventually beaten 12-9.

Oriel’s Paul Duff skipped his rink to an 11-6 victory over Alan Roberts, but Joe Beattie kept Armagh in the hunt with an 8-5 win against John Murnaghan.

In the second half, Armagh’s Aidan Corrigan picked up a single on the opening end, but wasn’t in front again until he scored a two in the final end, which earned hm an 8-7 success against Kevin Conroy.

Mark Sproule was Armagh’s top performer, scoring a 12-3 victory against Gerry McCabe.

Paddy Hanlon ensured the game would go right to the wire, but his 8-7 win against Andrew Leckey wasn’t enough to prevent Oriel suffering their second successive final defeat.

“A victory didn’t look on for a long time,” admitted Armagh’s Flo McNally.

“But the team showed great battling qualities, especially over the final crucial ends. Oriel will certainly feel hard done by.”

Result IIBA Men’s Inter-zone final: Armagh 50 Oriel 46 (A Roberts 6 P Duff 11; D Wright 9 F Dillon 12; J Beattie 8 J Murnaghan 5; A Corrigan 8 K Conroy 7; M Sproule 12 G McCabe 3; A Leckey 7 P Hanlon 8).