Gordon and Raymond Stubbs will put their Irish Indoor Bowling Association’s Master Pairs title on the line at the Watson Stadium on Saturday.
The Ballinderry brothers had the distinction of winning the inaugural event last season, which culminated in a 12-6 win over Billy Taffe and Kevin Conroy in the final.
It may not be quite as daunting this time due to the fact that the entries failed to reach the 94 limit. However, the cream of short mat bowling will still be on show at the excellent Shaws Bridge venue, with 16 groups on the starting grid.
And, the Stubbs sibling will certainly have their work cut as they have been drawn in the same section as the Morrison brothers -- Andy and David -- from 1st Aghoghill.
Also included are Darren Witherspoon and Michael Todd (All Saints, Larne) along with Armagh Golf Club’s Andrew Robinson and Robert Kidd.
It’s an opportunity for the Morrisons to grab a little bit of revenge as they lost out to the eventual champions at the quarter finals stage 12 months ago
“It’s a tough group, but all we can do is take one game at a time,” said Raymond Stubbs. “The line-up may not be a big as last year, but it is still laced with the best short mat bowlers in the country.”
Andy Morrison will also have an added incentive as he was beaten in the final of the Short Mat Players’ Tour’s Irish Open, sponsored by the Ramada Plaza Hotel, by Belgium’s Dimitri Payne at the same venue last weekend.
Meanwhile, the husband and wife team of Joe and Pauline Beattie will be looking to maintain their early season form with an extended run in the tournament.
Like Morrison, they both made a superb contribution in the Irish Open, with Pauline finishing in bronze medal position -- her second of the Tour, which helped shoot her to seventh in the world ratings.
They’ll also have to be at their best in their section, coming up against Rosemount’s Rodney McCuthceon and Jackie Erskine.
The IIBA Masters Plate winners are also back in the hunt. Nathan and Nick Haire, from Ballinderry, defeated Paul and Aaran O’Keefe in last season’s decider after managing to finish in only third place in their section.
They will lock horns with Rosemount’s Ryan Stewart and Darren Erskine; Reggie Bolton and Keith Conlon (St Mark’s, Portadown) and Brian McGahey and Graham Martin, from Ballybay.
IIBA Masters Pairs
Group A: M Reid,, T Cushnahan (Rock), T Carson M Crawford (Sydenham), An Other, S Quinn (Cookstown Parochial), D Witherspoon, J Burns (All Saints, Larne).
Group B: G Tanner, A Tanner (Conna), M Petticrew, S Beggs (All Saints, Larne), J Shepherd, T McAleavey (Cookstown High), S Cushnahan, J Cushnahan (Rock).
Group C: G Stubbs, R Stubbs (Ballinderry), D Witherspoon, M Todd (All Saints, Larne), A Morrison, D Morrison (1st Aghoghill), A Robinson, R Kidd (Armagh Golf Club).
Group D: D Jordan, M Wilson (Cookstown High), AN Other, I Douglas (St Mark’s, Portadown), J Nesbitt, A Polin (St John’s , Gilford), N Rafferty, J Rafferty (Kileeshill).
Group E: J Shaw, I Hobson (Dungannon Indoor), M McCullough, N Gamble (Loughanreagh), L McHugh, C McHugh (Cookstown Parochial), H Nixon, C Scott (Wellington)
Group F: B Clingham, G Harvey (Anahilt Parish), J Newell, P Canning (Kinghan), D McAllister, D Davidson (Cookstown Parochial), M McAleese, D Walker (St Colman’s).
Group G: A Graham, J Graham (1st Aghoghill), A McKiver, P McKiver (Brockagh), S Brewster, J Calvin (Loughanreagh), B Lawn, F McGready (Eglish).
Group H: PJ McGrath, M McGrath (Washingbay), P Wray, A Wray (Magheracross), AN Other, D McElroy (Cookstown Parochial), J Teague, G McNabb (Fintona).
Group I: A Sayers, J McWhirter (Dunlop Presbyterian), M Campbell, C Campbell (Brocagh), I Craig, T Morrison (1st Aghoghill), M Lynch, M Fitzsimmons (Skryne).
Group J: A Howard, A Howard (Clougherney Presbyterian), J Beattie, P Beattie (St Mark’s, Portadown), R McCutcheon, J Erskine (Rosemount), D McCann, A Laughlin (Spa Golf Club).
Group K: G Moore, M Beattie (Strabane Cricket Club), L Douglas, W Morrison (1st Aghoghill), D McNamara, P McNamara (Spa Golf Club), M Wilson, G Wilson (Michelin).
Group L: A Moore, E Crawford (Mossley), T McMaster, M McMaster (1st Aghoghill), S Finlay, V Witherow (Strabane Cricket club), K Daly, J McCann (Eglish).
Group N: AN Other. S Trainor (Redeemer). A Cannaway, N Campbell (All Saints, Tullylish), G Christie, P Christie (Spa Golf Club). D Logan, A McCombe (1st Ahoghill).
Group M: AN Other, D McMahon (Carrickmacross), A Paul, J Quinn (Cookstown High), T Haire, N Shaw (Hillsborough Social), J Richardson, A Leckey (St Mark’s, Portadown).
Group O: R Bolton, K Conlon (St Mark’s, Portadown), N Haire, N Haire (Hillsborough Social), R Stewart, D Erskine (Rosemount), B McGahey, G Martin (Ballybay).
Group P: A McKee, S Hedley (Ballywalter), J Hassan, D McStravock (St Mary’s, Desertmartin), T Lithco, G Litcho (1st Aghoghill), J Flynn, J Dixon (Skryne).