Bannsiders are primed for Senior Cup test against rivals Ballymena

Coleraine captain Jordan Dallas and his dad Victor celebrate Senior Cup success in 2014
Coleraine captain Jordan Dallas and his dad Victor celebrate Senior Cup success in 2014

Coleraine’s Jordan Dallas believes the character of his team will be scrutinised in Saturday’s IBA Senior Cup semi final showdown against Ballymena at Ballymoney.

The Bannsiders have reserved their best form for this competition, which they won for only the second time in the club’s history two years ago.

Their win over Ballymena was the club’s first cup success since 1921. Little wonder the celebrations went on for quite some time at Lodge Road.

And, their astonishing victory over Whitehead last time out would suggest they are equipped to once more go the distance.

“It probably was our best display of the season,” said Dallas, who is president of the Provincial Bowls Association this season.

“I think it was the stand out result of the quarter finals.

“Whitehead had just won the NIBA Senior Cup 48 hours earlier and they were really up for it. They are also top of Division One, having only lost one league game all season to date.

“They have quality players, including many internationals, throughout their ranks. It puts into perspective what a great performance it was from our lads. We got off to a great start, leading by 10 shots early on, but Whitehead kept reducing it until they led by two shots with a few ends to go.

“By the time our rink left the green, it was level with the other three on. It was the two losing rinks that dug in on the final few ends to seal a magnificent seven shots victory.”

Dallas admits the same passion, commitment and character will be required against the Sky Blues.

“We played Ballymena in the quarter final back in 2009 at their place, losing out by 13 shots, in what was a close finish to the game,” he added.

“We then faced them the following year up at their place again, this time losing by 17 shots. That tell you what we are up against. But we take great confidence from the win at Whitehead. The team will require all it’s battling qualities to pull us through it.

“ We’ve got a lot of big game players that have played on the big stage so hopefully we can do the business next Saturday. We should have a good support up with us too.”

The Bannsiders are hoping to be at full strength. Dallas added: “We had Mark Mason missing from the last round, but he should be available for the semi-final.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a full panel to travel over to Ballymoney. Both semi finals are two big ties, with any of the four teams capable of winning. They all have good cup pedigree.”

Ballymena’s hopes of making the final have been jolted due to the fact that they will be without John Nicholl and Michael Wilson, who both haven’t missed a game this year.

“We may have won the last meeting between the club, but that counts for nothing,” said Ballymena’s Graham Wilson. “This will be a different story -- it will be a big test there is no question about that. It also presents us with our only realistic chance of lifting a trophy this season.”

Fixtures

IBA Senior Cup semi finals: Ballymena v Coleraine; Bangor v Dunbarton.

IBA Junior Cup semi finals: Pickie v Whitehead; Cookstown v Brookgreen.

NI Private Greens League Division One: Ulster Transport v Larne, Old Bleach v Ards, Pickie v Ewarts.

NIPGL Division Two: Ballywalter v Castleton, Comber v NICS, Forth River v Mossley, Hilden v Falls, Cliftonville v Salisbury,.

NIPGL Division Three: PSNI v Ballymena B, Shaftesbury v Belmont B, Shorts v Cavehill, Knock v Gallaher, Saintfield v North Belfast.

NIPGL Division Four: Larne B v Malone, Belmont C v Dunbarton B, Willowfield B v Ballymena C, Downpatrick v Old Bleach B.

NIPGL Division Five: Albert Foundry v Ulster Transport B, Belmont D v Comber B, Cavehill B v Forth River B, Mossley B v Hilden B, Ewarts B vv Cliftonville B, Ards B vv Shaftesbury B.

Northern Ireland Bowling Association Divison One: Carrick v Lisnagarvey, Portadown v Bangor, Banbridge v Divis, Whitehead v Lurgan, Balmoral v Dundonald.

NIBA Division Two: Castle v Balmoral B, Curran v Dromore, Dunganon v Donaghadee, Bessbrook v Sydenham.

NIBA Division Three: Newtownabbey v Musgrave, Clarendon v Cloughey, Markethill v St Stephen’s, Ormeau v Carrick B, Lisnagarvey B v Rathfriland.

NIBA Division Four: North Down v Ulster Maple Leaf, Holywood v Queen’s Island, Newcastle v Banbridge B, BETS v Finaghy, Annalong v Portadown B.

NIBA Division Five: Lurgan B v Glengormley, Antrim v 1st Ballymacarrett, Dromore B v Newry, Warrenpoint v Castle B, Windsor v Lagan Valley.

NIBA Division Six: Donaghadee B v Musgrave B, Rathfriland B v 9th Old Boys, Divis B v Curran B, Gilnahirk v 58th Od Boys.

NI Provincial Bowling Association Division One: Letterkenny v city of Derry, Dunluce v Ballymoney, Limavady v Ballycastle, Cookstown v Portglenone.