The dreams of a treble for the bowlers of Dunbarton are all over after a thrilling final game of the season away to old adversaries Ballymena.
Leading second placed Belmont by half a point going into the final round of fixtures, the locals knew that realistically they had to lift a minimum of six points to win the league.
As it turned out, their East Belfast rivals lifted six of the seven points on offer at Ards but they were safe in the knowledge that two was enough. This was due to Dunbarton’s result four days earlier.
Whilst the Gilford side only came away with 1.5 points from their trip to Ballymena, this was an amazing game that went right to the wire.
Going into the final end across all four rinks, a maximum point haul was still on. With three rinks trailing by just two shots and one rink ahead by one, all four Dunbarton rinks could still win their point. Unfortunately, despite battling right to the end, two of the rinks conceded a single whilst Marty Trainor’s four scored a last end double.
Only DJ Wilson’s rink emerged victorious, winning by four shots. As it turned out, only for DJ’s last bowl, when he had two shots against and turned the jack to score a treble, the locals could have actually ended their league campaign in third position behind Larne.
Rink 1 C Mulholland, J Moffett, P Convery, DJ Wilson up 22-18#
DJ’s four were up against three current Irish internationals and started well leading 6-1 after five ends.
By the three-quarter mark though, the Braidmen had gained an 11-18 advantage. Similarly to the Irish Cup final, DJ’s men just never gave up and scores of 1,2,1,2,2 moved them one shot ahead going into the last end.
They were in trouble when the opposition third drove the jack back up the green and the hosts lay two shots with just two bowls remaining. The Gilford skip produced a terrific delivery to turn the jack and earn a four shot victory.
Rink 2 D Copeland, J Magennis, M Merritt, M Trainor 18-18
This was a rerun of the Irish cup final as Marty’s four were drawn to play exactly the same quartet that they played two weeks earlier.
Once again it was the men in blue that started the brighter, leading 2-6 after the first quarter. At the ten ends mark this deficit had narrowed to 9-11 only for the home rink to accelerate to a 10-16 advantage at the three quarters mark. However, Marty’s four are a rink that fight tooth and nail and back they came for a deserved draw.
Rink 3 C Trainor, J Kelly, G McElroy, M Greenfield down 16-19
The turning point in this game arrived on end 13 when the Ballymena four scored a count of five and got their noses in front.
At the three quarters mark, this lead was extended to 12-16 but the visitors narrowed their deficit to just two going into the last end. And skip Myles was left cursing his luck as with his final delivery, he just missed taking out the closest Ballymena bowl to lie a count of three.
Rink 4 M Higgins, T Bell, C McCartan, A Hughes down 16-19
For the vast majority of this game, Andy’s four looked nailed on to win their point.
By end 16, they were 16-11 ahead but all their good work was ruined over the final five ends. From ends 17-20 eight unanswered shots were conceded and for the first time, Ballymena were in front.
Despite their best efforts, Andy’s men were unable to score on the last end and dropped another shot for a disappointing three shot reverse.