Bowls is healthy in Mid-Antrim
The Mid-Antrim Zone is currently one of the largest affiliated to the IIBA, with a total of 63 clubs listed and it covers a large geographical area, stretching from the Belfast side of Antrim town, Loanends and Dundrod, through Antrim, Ballymena, right across to Glenarriffe.
Affiliated teams take part in league competitions over four different leagues.
The Ballymena area is covered by the Town and District League, founded in 1968, and the Churches' League, founded in 1963. The Antrim side of the zone has the Antrim Churches' League, 1964, and the Sixmilewater and District League, 1970, as well as a number of cup competitions.
Mid-Antrim has always been well represented at championships and they have won the open singles four times, with David Shields, Broughshane, the current holder. The pairs title only came to the zone in 1999/2000 when R. Rodgers/R. Hunter were the winners. They won the British title the following year.
It was the same in the triples where the Morrison brothers, First Ahoghill, won the IIBA and British titles between 2005/2007. Three wins have been recorded in the rinks, with the most recent in 2000/2001 by the Buckna rink skipped by K. Adams.
The ladies have also had some success. Mrs M. Johnston, St Patrick's, Ballymena recorded two singles successes in the 70s. Two wins have been recorded in the pairs, Y. Wilson/M. Steele gaining the title in 1994/1995. M. Johnston again entered the winner's circle in 1983/84, winning the rinks.
The Champion of Champions event has also seen success for Mid-Antrim in the pairs, 1999/2000, through G. Wilson/B. Dunlop, Killymurris Carnlea, who became the only pair in the history of the event to defend their title. They also had a British A series pairs win before adding a world pairs title.
In the Inter-Zone competition Mid-Antrim were successful in the Boomer Cup for the first time in 1983/84 before waiting 22 years for a second win in 2006.
This success was followed by winning the British Isles top team competition, which they hosted. The men have recorded three wins in the Plate competition, but the ladies go back to 1976/77 for their only McIlroy Cup success.
The Zone junior team reached the semi-finals of the Bellbowl competition in 2005/06.
Mid-Antrim continues to feature on the international stage. R. Fleming, G. Lithco, S. Hall and R. Hunter have been involved in the full team. A series representatives include B. Dunlop, G. Wilson, A. Morrison and B. Magrath.
On the executive committee of the IIBA David Steele has been a sterling worker as competition secretary for a number of years and still holds the post of child protection officer.
R. McCullough, Mid-Antrim convenor, would welcome enquiries from bowlers in the area who would like more information about clubs, etc.