Lisnagarvey’s Neil Mulholland produced a devastating late recovery to snatch the NIBA singles title away from the hands of Nigel Beggs in a dramatic final at Carrickfergus in midweek.
Mulholland, still basking in the glory of his Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games silver medal success, was staring defeat squarely in the face as he trailed the Whitehead man 15-8 at 15 ends
But in an astonishing turn around, he managed to reel in his in-form opponent, winning eight ends on the trot and piling in 13 shots to take him over the finish line -- the match finishing in almost total darkness.
It’s the second time the Ireland international has had his hands on the trophy, having savoured victory back in 2007 following a less dramatic win over Balmoral’s Annesley Harrison.
“It was a close one,” admitted Mulholland, in the gathering gloom at the East Antrim venue. “Nigel was playing really well it was a matter of just hanging in waiting on my chance.
“There wasn’t much room for error after that. Thankfully, I managed to force my way back into the game and when the opportunity came knew I had to grab it.
“I’m thrilled with my second singles win and I can now look forward to next month’s Irish Championships.”
Mulholland may not be finished there however, because he is due to contest the final of the pairs championship tonight.
He teams up with his Lisnagarvey team mate Ivan Craig for what should be a titanic showdown with Whitehead’s Barry Browne and Marty McHugh, who was also part of the NI Commonwealth Games team in Glasgow.
Browne and McHugh are looking to write themselves into the NIBA the record books by claiming the crown for a seventh time.
Mulholland, of course, was deprived of a possible treble trophy haul when he lost out in the final of the fours. Joined by John McCloughlin, Gareth McCloughlin and Craig, they were narrowly beaten by the club colleagues, Scott Jess, Martin Nelson, Philip Cromie and Noel Graham, who edged home 19-17.
Meanwhile, there was heartbreak for young Jess as he was pipped at the post for the Under-25 singles title by Whitehead’s Jack Montgomery.
Jess had built up a 20-14 lead and was laying game, when Montgomery played a wonderful saving bowl, trailing the jack to pick up a single.
He added another two on the next end before incredibly picking a count of four on the next to leave his opponent totally deflated.
Lisnagarvey also lost out in the final of the triples championship. Clarke Hill, Cromie and Graham Gary Scott and Mark Shannon.
NIBA Division One: Castle v Balmoral, Lisnagarvey v Portadown, Dundonald v Whitehead, Donaghadee v Banbrige, Divis v Bangor.
Division Two: Dromore v Londonderry Park, Newtownabbey v Dungannon, Balmoral B v Rathfriland, Whitehead B v Lurgan, Sydenham v Carrick.
Division Three: Carrick B v Bessbrook, Banbridge B v Ulster Maple Leaf, Curran Oremau, Cloughey v Clarendon, Musgrave v Markethill.
Division Four: Queen’s Island v Annalong, Newcastle v North Down, Glengormley v St Stephen’s, Holywood v Lisnagarvey B , Antrim v Finaghy.
Division Five: BETS v Warrenpoint, Lurgan B v Divis B, Rathfriland B v 1st Ballymacarrett, Portadown B v Dromore B.
Division Six: 9th Old Boys v Curran B, McQuistion B v Windsor, Gilnahirk v Donaghadee B, Ballynafeigh 58th Old Boys, Musgrave B v Castle B.
Private Greens League Senior Division One: Falls v Forth River, Pickie v Old Bleach, Ulster Transporrt v Ballymena, Dunbarton v Willowfield, Ewarts vv Belmont.
Division Two: Ards v NICS, Ballywalter v Comber, Salisbury v Belmont Park, Shorts v Mossley, Cliftonville v Castleton.
Division Three: PSNI v Knock, Cavehill v Albert Foundry, Belfast v Malone, Ballymena Park v Gallaher, Shaftesbury v North Belfast.
PGL Junior Divison One: Belmont v Larne, Old Bleach v Pickie, Ballymena vv Ulster Transport, Mossley v Falls, Downpatrick vv Dunbartin.
Division Two: Belmont Park v Ewarts, Comber v Cavehill, Castleton v Cliftonville, Willowfield v Ards.
Provincial Senior League: Ballycastle v Dunluce, Kilrea v Portglenone, Letterkenny v Portrush, Cookstown v City of Derry, Coleraine v Ballymoney.