Champions Ballymoney are ready for battle in Provincial title race

Ballymoney have no plans to give up their Provincial Senior League title without a fight!

Even though they have dropped off the pace at the top of the table, Irish international Gary Kelly insists they have enough in the tank to get back on track.

They go into the mid summer break after tomorrow’s away fixture at Ballycastle, knowing a full quota of points would be a massive boost.

The current title holders trail table toppers Cookstown by 11 points, but they have played one game less. Portrush, the 2012 champions, are still very much in the equation, they have a three point lead on Ballymoney with the same number of games completed.

“It’s vital we get only only a win but as many points as we can at Ballycastle,” said Kelly, who had a great series in Ireland’s Home International Championship a few weeks back.

“Cookstown are leading the way, but there are plenty of games left, so things can change quickly. It’s a four-horse race. Coleraine are three-and-a-half points adrift of us, but it’s a gap that can be easily wiped out.

“But we must look after ourselves. When the league restarts on July 25, we are due to go to Cookstown. It’s a game that could be pivotal in terms of the title race.”

The Bannsiders travel to Letterkenny tomorrow, while Portrush make the journey to struggling Limavady.

Meanwhile, with the NIBA and Private Greens League taking a Twelfth fortnight break, it gives three big tournaments the chance to take centre stage - Bangor, Belmont and Portrush. The popular Bangor event gets under way tomorrow morning at Ward Park and Pickie with the mixed pairs discipline.

“We’ve had a bumper entry this season,” said organiser Henry McFarland.

“All we need is a bit of decent weather.

“The singles has certainly been the big draw. We’ve had to rescheduled another session to accommodate the entry.

“The pairs are pencilled in for Saturday. The triples are scheduled for Sunday with the fours played on Monday. Then, there will be three sessions of singles on Tuesday.”

Belmont’s prestigious City of Belfast tournament gets under way on Saturday, with the singles and pairs taking pride of place.

There will be no games played on Saturday evening or on Monday, July 13. The event recommences on Tuesday.

Up at Portrush Old Bleach will be looking to maintain their stranglehold on the singles. James Talbot picked up the big prize last season, the sixth successive time the trophy has gone to a Randalstown club member.

“Once again participants from all over Ireland will be in action at Ramore Head,” said Portrush’s Ian McClure.

“As usual the disciplines will be Men’s Singles and Pairs, Ladies Singles and Pairs and Evening Mixed Triples.

“And, James Talbot will be back to defend his crown. It’s an incredible record with Old Bleach players winning the title for the last six years. The club again has a big representation.

“Ballymoney’s Martin McAleese and Brian McAlary will be going all out to retain their pairs title, while Bernie O’Neill puts her ladies singles trophy on the line, a title she has won on six occasions.”

Saturday fixtures: 
Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Portglenone v City of Derry; Ballycastle v Ballymoney; Limavady v Potrush; Letterkenny v Coleraine.

Belmont City of Belfast singles: Saturday, 11am: H Swift (Belmont) v N Hamilton (Banbridge), T McClean (Sydenham) v S Cavan (Belmont), E Willis (Belmont) v R Cavan (Pickie), S Jess (Lisnagarvey) v U Tedford (Belmont), S Agnew (Dundonald) v J Montgomery (Whitehead), N Large (Dindonald) v J Budde (Belmont), J McKeown (Sydenham) v R Irwin (Pickie), L Carson (Sydenham) v N Greenfield (Portrush).

1.30pm: S Weir (Dundonald) v R Bell (Mossley), N Thompson (Belmont) v S Rosbotham (Ulster Maple Leaf), N Tate (Belmont) v R Kirkwood (Old Bleach), K Allman (Belmmont) v J McKinney (Dromore), S Walker (Belmont) v J Gorman (Belmont), N Dawson (Belmont) v M Crawford (Bangor), J Frazer (Dundonald) v R Gray (Cliftonville), S Kirkwood (Old bleach) v G Garvey (Dromore), D Bintley (Belmont) v S Swift (Belmont).

4pm: D Dubois (Belmont) v J Davidson (Dundonald), M Foster (Dundonald) v D Mills (Pickie), C Mawhinney (Dundonald) v C Eadie (Belmont), B Nixon (Willowfield) v C Laird (Clydebank), G White (Belmont) v C Duncan (Clydebank), J Watson (Belmont) v G Easton jnr (Salisbury), S McMillan (Ulster Maple Leaf) v D Crawford (Belmont).


Northern Ireland women’s Bowling Association Senior League: Banbridge 7pts Portadown 0; Divis 7 Nescastle 0; Donaghadee 6 Lurgan 1; Dungannon 6.5 Lisnagarvey 0.5; Whitehead 1 Holywood 6.

Northern Ireland Women’s Bowling Association Junior League: Carrick 5 Ardenlee 0; Castle park 4 Antrim Lawn 1; Curran 4 Newry 1; Dromore 5 Lagan Valley 0; Gilnahirk 4 Ward Park 1.