Oriel’s Gerry O’Hare admits revenge is on the agenda in Friday’s IIBA Inter-zone first round showdown against Armagh at Richhill.
In a repeat of last season’s final, McCabe’s team are still licking their wounds after being cruelly pipped at the post for the Boomer Cup.
It was the second time that Oriel were ambushed right at the finish. Mid Ulster also twisted the knife in similar fashion only 12 months earlier.
Oriel now have the opportunity of repairing some of the damage when they line out against the title holders on Saturday - the event sponsored by Gary McCloy, Ballybrakes Bowls.
“It’s a tough opener, there is no question about that,” said O’Hare. “The annoying thing is the fact that one of the teams capable of going the distance will be out of the running at such an early stage.
“That’s the luck of the draw. We really should be approaching the tournament as cup holders. We led for most of the game in last season’s final, but for some reason, we started rushing out shots and we paid the price.”
Oriel have two new faces added to their squad, with Sean Conroy and Sean Trainor included for the campaign.
“We’ll not be selecting the team until Friday night,” added O’Hare. “Sean Conroy will bring a bit of experience to the side. It would be fair to say that the winners of this game could go all the way to the final.
“But with home advantage, Armagh will probably start as favourites.”
Armagh have reshaped their line-up for the title defence, adding Chris Mulholland, Terry Mulholland, Martin Trainor and Jim Hendren to their panel.
However, they have lost the services of William Gilpin, Chris Trainor, Danny McDonald and Derek Wright.
“I just couldn’t believe it when the draws were made,” stated Armagh’s Flo McNally. “We played Oriel in both the men and women’s zone finals last year -- and we have been drawn against them in the first round of both tournaments this season.
“There is little doubt that they’ll be coming to Richhill for revenge at the weekend . . . the pressure is all on us, so we must be ready to meet the challenge head on.”
Meanwhile, North Down, beaten in the semi final last season, will be looking go one better this time. They’ll be favourites to snuff out the challenge of North Belfast.
IIBA Men’s Inter-zone Championship, first round: Armagh v Oriel, North Belfast v North Down, South & East Belfast v Lisburn, Mid Tyrone v Donegal, Mid Antrim v East Antrim, Larne v Mid Ulster, Western v South Down, Meath v Northern.
Results round up . . . . . . . . .
Belfast Indoor Bowls Club
Monday Evening Men’s League: J Frazer 13 M Brown 8, A Robinson 14 A Roberts 13, P Cromie 8 M Kirkwood 13, JJ Leonard 11 J Hinds 12, J Millar 4 D Hamilton 26, R Walker 15 R Dunbar 5.25.
Tuesday Evening Men’s League “A”: M Merritt 19 C Campbell 7, D Hamilton 8 J McGettrick 8, P McVeigh 11 B Daly 20.
Tuesday Evening Men’s League “B”: JH Campbell 7 M Gwynne 17, M Simpson 8 M Irvine 18, A Brown 16 E Thompson 8, M Hedley 7 R Meaklim 12, D Watson 12 D Rankin 13, D Linton 19 D McCandless 13, I McIntyre 13 T White 23.
Wednesday Evening Men’s League: W Stevenson 7 A Fee 26, I McIntyre 6 A Gray 15, D Moore 13 W Thompson 19, F Lemon 6 M Dunlop 23, R Simpson 9 J Marshall 21, S Elliman 10 J Millar 11, B Carlisle 17 W Moran 5.
Thursday Evening Men’s League: A Fee 16 R Dunbar 13, JH Campbell 5 D McCluskey 18, D Smyth 14 S Malcolmson 2, D Linton 16 A Bailie 15, D McCandless 19 F Simpson 6, S Elliman 21 C Donnelly 9.
Friday Evening Men’s League: E McCourt 16 W Meehan 10, J Marshall 18 D Clarke 16, D Nelson 23 I McIntyre 9, D Simpson 6 C Craig 20, N Mulholland 11 P Prunty 16, S Wightman 16 M Moorehead 8, H McFarland 8 N Hamilton 10, R McKitterick 10 S Adamson 15.
Men’s Saturday League: P McVeigh 17 J Herron 5, M Irvine 9 M Gwynne 17, T Roberts 13 B Nixon 17, A Bailie 20 G Finlay 8, W Thompson 9 D Burns 9, M Merritt 22 W McCullough 4, D Simpson 20 B Kelso 3, M Dunlop 25 J McKelvey 8, A Robinson 9 H Johnston 10, A Coyle 12 A Briggs 22.