Last Thursday night the Dunbarton Senior team got themselves right back in the title hunt with a tremendous 32 shot defeat of league leaders Old Bleach in Gilford.
Most importantly however, the locals chalked up six and a half points out of a possible seven and restricted their rivals to a measly half point.
And this so nearly could have been all seven points, only for the Randalstown skip on rink three with the last bowl of the night, take away a second shot that would have given Marty Trainor’s rink a one shot victory.
Nonetheless, the Gilford men were still delighted to come away with a large haul of points as they knew that had they lost this game, the defence of their league title was effectively over.
In a game reduced to 18 ends because of the fading light, the locals got off to a steady start and once they got into gear there was only going to be one winner.
Top rink of the night was DJ Wilson’s four who love playing on the “show rink”, rink one and cruised to a superb 16 shot success.
Not far behind came a magnificent performance by Conor McCartan’s foursome who defeated a strong old Bleach four by ten shots and gained revenge for a heavy defeat earlier in the season by the same rink.
Myles Greenfield’s four took control of their contest during the middle of their game and eased to a comfortable six shot success.
Last but not least came Marty Trainor’s rink who saved all the drama to the last. With all of the other rinks off the green, Marty trailed by a shot and with just six bowls left, Old Bleach lay one shot.
Up stepped Michael Merritt with a wonderful delivery to turn the jack into the ditch and essentially guarantee at least half a point.
With two bowls remaining, the locals still lay one shot, only for skip Marty to produce a tremendous bowl and draw to the edge of the ditch to lie twoshots and suddenly a maximum haul of seven points looked likely.
Credit must however be given to the visiting skip who in near darkness, turned Marty’s bowl into the ditch and the scores finished level.
An absolutely crucial six and a half points and keeps the Dunbarton side in the hunt for the treble.
Rink 1 R McElroy, J Moffatt, P Convery, DJ Wilson up 30-14
Over the last couple of years, DJ’s rink have made rink one their own and again last Thursday night, they produced a stunning performance to comfortably dispose of a shell shocked Old Bleach four.
Over the final two thirds there was just one rink in it as the home quartet applied pressure with every bowl.
A run of 4,1,6,1 from ends 9-12 moved the home side into pole position at 20-8 and from thereonin they cruised to a superb 16 shot success.
Rink 2 M Higgins, M Adamson, A Hughes, M Greenfield up 22-16
Similarly to most of the other rinks, there was little to choose over the first six ends as Myles’ four led 6-5.
At the midpoint it was the Old Bleach rink that had found their form and moved ahead 8-11 but suddenly the Gilford four moved through the gears.
A great run of 1,5,2,2,1 took this game out of the reach of the visitors and at 19-11 with four ends remaining, another point was secured. By the close, the locals could afford to lose a last end treble.
Rink 3 J Kelly, J Magennis, M Merritt, M Trainor 15-15
Yet again Marty’s four were involved in a titanic struggle and it was fitting that this game went right to the wire.
After the first third, it was the visitors that held a narrow two shot advantage, leading 5-7. By the two thirds mark it was all to play for as the scores were levelled at 11-11.
Again it was the men from Co Antrim that looked to have moved into the driving seat when they opened up a 12-15 lead with three ends left.
Back came Marty’s men and successive singles on ends 16 and 17 and suddenly they trailed by just one going into the last end. And what a dramatic end it was.
Firstly third Michael Merritt turned the jack, only to still be one shot down, then the away third trailed the jack to the edge of the ditch and the head was very much in favour of the Old Bleach four. Michael then produced a top drawer delivery to ditch the jack and all but secure a half point.
Then came those final two superb bowls, firstly Marty drawing to the edge of the ditch to lie game, only for the Randalstown skip to the turn the bowl into the ditch for half a point each.
Rink 4 C Trainor, C Mulholland, G McElroy, C McCartan up 23-13
In the reverse fixture, Conor’s four were on the end of a pasting by an Old Bleach four who played brilliantly so the locals had a chance for revenge.
Whilst some rinks may have been fearful, Conor’s four showed tremendous character to bounce back and put their rivals to the sword. Only some magnificent bowls from visiting skip N Booth prevented a cricket score.
The first few ends were nip and tuck as there was little to separate the sides and after six ends, the Randalstown men led 5-7. However a nice count of five on end seven moved the locals ahead and then they never looked back.
This game was effectively sewn up from ends to 9-12 as the hosts scored 1,3,2,2 to open up a ten shot advantage and this remained the winning margin by the close. A terrific effort by all four bowlers.
This week the massive games continue. First up is a crucial league game at home to Willowfield on Tuesday night (4 August) and the locals will be hoping to lift a large haul as they continue to charge towards the league summit.
Four days later, Dunbarton will be involved in a mouthwatering Irish Cup semi final when they play Bangor.
Bangor are in good form in NIBA Division One so this will be a titanic clash. This game starts at 2pmat Pickie and a large crowd is expected. Waiting in the final will be the winners of Ballymena/Coleraine.