Armagh edged into the final of the IIBA Women’s Inter-zone final, but they had to call on all their battling qualities to see off a battling Cork side at St Anthony’s National Boys School.
The six times winners will now face the current McIroy Cup holders, Donegal, in the final on February 20 at a venue yet to be confirmed - in a repeat of last season’s decider.
It was the home team who appeared to be on course for their first final, having established a 12 shots lead at the interval.
But battling Armagh roared back in the second half and they managed to claw their way over the finish line, winning by only two shots.
“It was touch and go,” admitted Armagh’s Jal Richardson.
“We looked down and out at one stage. Cork established a good lead after dominating the opening half.
“But our team displayed great fighting qualities to grind out a result. We cut the deficit to about five shots on the seventh end. And then managed to square things over the last few ends. We’ll certainly need to up our game in the final.”
Cork’s Pat Collins and Josie O’Riordan got their team off to the best possible start by registering first half wins against Irene Doone (12-3) and Daphne Marshall (8-4).
Rachael Cassells kept Armagh in the hunt by pinching a tense 10-9 win against Betty Kenneally.
But the game was turned on its head after the break. The mother and daughter team of Irene and Lisa Douglas hauled Armagh back into it with vital wins against Ber Feeney (11-3) and Carmel Eadie (11-6). Pauline Beattie played her part by battling out a 8-8 result with Val Todd.
Meanwhile, Fred Aicken watched his Donegal team book a place in their second successive final before admitting they have yet to find their best form. The title holders recorded a 12 shots victory at West Down to set up yet another meeting with Armagh.
“We are thrilled to be back in the final,” said Aicken.
“The win at West Down was based in a great first half performance.
“Fair play to them, they came back at us strongly after the break, but we still and enough in the tank to get us over the line. To be honest, we have still to reach the level of performance we achieved last season. I still think the best is yet to come.
“We’ll certainly require our best form against Armagh in the final.”
Ann Gilfillan produced a superb first half display, skipping her rink to a 9-2 win against Patricia Martin.
Ruth Crawford and Margaret Montgomery and piled on the agony by defeating Bernie Conlon (9-6) and Evelyn Robb (9-7).
After the break Rachael McDonnell continued the trend for Donegal, by beating Angela Cannaway, but West down ht back through Hazel Steenson, who recorded an 11-6 win against Elizabeth Doherty, while Ann Polin grabbed a battling 9-9 result against Vera Patterson.
Monaghan defeated Northern to claim a place in the Women’s Plate tournament, where they will meet Mid Down, who recorded a one shot win at Foyle.
n Andrew Morrison’s rink from, 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian, walked off with top prize - and the McConnell Rose Bowls - in the 1st Donegore Bowls Club’s annual rinks tournament.
Morrison, partnered by Lisa Douglas, William Morrison and Jal Richardson, edged out last year’s winners, St Mark’s, Portadown, DJ Wilson, Eddie Campbell, Johnny Wilson and Andrew Leckey.
“It was another successful tournament,” said club secretary Margorie Hamilton. “We are indebted to everyone who took part or helped in any way.”
The eight rinks who qualified for the quarter finals were: P Canning (Conlig), P Reid (Ballinderry), A Leckey (St Mark’s, Portadown), D Elliott (Connor Presbyterian), A McLean (Larne Falcons), S McGlinchey (Cookstown Parochial), H McCallum (Dunluce Parish.
In the semi finals, Reid lost to Leckey, while Morrison got the better of McCallum.
IIBA Women’s Inter-zone semi finals: Cork 45 Armagh 47 (P Collins 12 I Doone 3; J O’Riordan 8 D Marshall 4; B Kenneally 9 R Cassells 10; B Feeney 3 I Douglas 11; C Eadie 6 L Douglas 11; V Todd 8 P Beattie 8).
West Down 41 Donegal 53 (P Martin 2 A Gilfillan 9; B Conlon 6 R Crawford 9; E Robb 7 M Montgomery 9; A Cannaway 6 R McDonnell 11; H Stevenson 11 E Doherty 6; A Polin 9 V Patterson 9).
IIBA Plate semi finals: Northern 46 Monaghan 58 (C Murray 6 T McSkeane 13; E McClements 4 B Stewart 12; T Everett 8 K Smith 6; L Mcauley 12 A rutledge 11; H Arbuthnot 5 C McKenna 9; M Johnston 11 L Carleton 7).
Foyle 45 Mid Antrim 46 (S Johnston 13 A Bacon 6; S Stevenson 7 Jwilson 12; N Britton 5 E Gage 10; V Witherow 9 H Lynn 7; N Miller 7 M Wilson 4; L Hamilton 4 A Agnew 7).