Bleach Boys have early IBA Senior Cup test against close rivals Pickie

Old Bleachs Stephen Kirkwood will miss the tie
Old Bleachs Stephen Kirkwood will miss the tie

Old Bleach’s Brian Trimble is a great believer in playing the hand you’ve been dealt!

But when the Randalstown boys were drawn against their Private Greens League Division One rivals Pickie in round one of the IBA Irish Cup, it was a tie that did no favours to either club.

Even though it may be labeled as one of the games of the round, it means one of the ‘big guns’ will make an uncomfortable early exit.

“It is, what it is,” said a realistic Trimble, a member of the Old Bleach side that created a little piece of history by helping his side lift the trophy for the first time back in 2014.

“There is no point is brooding over what might have been. It’s a difficult tie, there is no question about that. In an open draw, you always hope for tie against one of the so called ‘lesser’ sides to help bed you in.

“Pickie are a good team . . . an improving team. They have really upped their performance over the past few years. I’ve no doubt it will be a close call.

“At least, we have home advantage, which could mean a lot in a game like this. There are very fine margins between quite a few teams, so you have to make the most of your home games.”

Old Bleach will again be without young Stephen Kirkwood, who is currently representing his country in the Dutch Open in Haarlem.

He was missing last weekend, which prompted the Randalstown club to reschedule their game against Ballymena, which the PGL rules permit.

However, they are not in a position to take similar action on Saturday, under IBA rules.

“Other than Stephen, we’ll be at full strength,” added Trimble. “We are working off a squad of 19 players, so we whoever comes in will be up for it.

“After losing our opening league game against Dunbarton, we’ve beaten Falls (in the PGL Senior cup) and Ulster Transport (in the league), so we are in decent form.”

Trimble vividly remember the club’s ‘finest hour’ back in August 2014 when the Irish Cup made the journey to Randalstown for the first time.

“It as a unforgettable occasion, especially for our late member Bryan Magrath,” recalls Trimble. “He bravely battled illness for a long time and it was fitting that he got his wish before he passed away, so there was poignant touch to the cup win . . . Bryan will always be remembered by it.”

Old Bleach made a significant capture ahead of the new outdoor campaign by bringing in Neil Mullholland from NIBA side Lianagarvey.

“He’ll be a massive asset to the club,” added Trimble. “He has a fantastic record at international and representative level and he has fitted in well.”

The carrot dangling on front of Old Bleach and Pickie is a home fixture against either Ulster Transport or Donaghadee in round two on June 4.

“We’ll not even be thinking about that,” added Trimble. “We’ll first focus on the Pickie game before we embark on a difficult league run against Mossley, Larne and Belmont, so there are plenty of big games looming.”

Cup holders, Dunbarton, make the journey to Dublin to face Bray in their opening game defence.

FIXTUREs:

Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup, first round: Dungannon v St James’s Gate, Portrush v Balmoral, Portglenone v Bangor, Dundonald v Leinster, Dun Laogharie v Banbridge, Dromore v Limavady, Ewarts v City of Derry, Castle v Lisnagarvey, Old Bleach v Pickie, Ulster Transport v Donaghadee, Ballymena v Portadown, Bray v Dunbarton, Carrickfergus v Aer Lingus, Ballycastle v Divis, Mossley v Markethill.

First round byes: Albert Foundry, Ballymoney, Belmont, Blackrock, Coleraine, Cookstown, Crumlin, CYM, Dunluce, Falls, Kenilworth, Larne, Letterkenny, Meath, NICS, Whitehead.

Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup, first round: Curran v Comber, Greystones v Ballymoney, Crumlin v City of Derry, Mossley v Castlerock, Whitehead v Pickie, Dromore v Banbrige, Dunluce v Old Bleach, Musgrave v St James’s Gate, Ewars v Brookgreen, Lisnagarvey v Cookstown, Lagan Valley v Limavady, Cavehill v Carrickfergus, Belmont D v Belfast, Forth River v BETS, Letterkenny v Portsterwart, Lurgan v Portrush, Ballycastle v Ballymena C, Donaghadee v Hilden, Coleraine v Bray, Larne v Ulster Transport, CYM v Castleton.

First round byes: Antrim, Ards, Balmoral, Belmont C, Castle, Dunbarton, Falls, Portadown, Rathfriland, Westmanstown, Willowfield.