Dunbarton tipped to follow up double with more success
Dunbarton may have missed out on a record-breaking triple trophy success last season, but Myles Greenfield insists it has made his team are even more hungry ahead of the new outdoor bowls campaign that gets under way today.
Having celebrated a cup double, the Gilford boys were denied a unique hat-trick when they were pipped by Belmont on the final day of the season for the Private Greens League Division One title.
Even though they have already written their own little chapter in the history of the tournament by becoming only the second team to parade the trophy on five successive occasions - 2006-2010 - Dunbarton are determined to erase the memory of last season's disappointment.
"No one would have banked on Belmont finishing the way they did," said former international Greenfield. "They produced a fantastic run to win it. It's staggering to think that it was their first league win since 2003."
Dunbarton already had the IBA and PGL Senior Cups sitting in their clubhouse - and it looked odds on that the league trophy would join them.
"The big turning point came after our cup final win over Ballymena," added Greenfield.
"They looked to have the game done and dusted at 15 ends. The Sky Blue ribbons were being prepared, until we somehow turned it around and won it with practically the final bowl.
"It was a big blow to Ballymena's morale. Belmont played them the following Tuesday in a rearranged league game and obviously the Ballymena boys were still haunted by the cup final loss. Belmont claimed all seven points.
"That was the victory that tilted the title in their favour. They only had to win at Ards on the final day to guarantee them the championship - and they didn't slip up."
Dunbarton face a difficult opener today as they travel to Randalstown to face an Old Bleach team that was also in title contention until the final few weeks of the campaign.
However, Dunbarton have beefed up their squad by snapping up Ireland international Alan Paul from Ballymoney and the Trainor brothers - Sean and Kieran - from Portadown.
"The new boys will certainly strengthen our hand," adds Greenfield.
"Alan has moved to live in the area, so it's an unbelievable coup to have him at the club. He's a quality player with a great track record. The Trainors will team up with their two other brothers, Chris and Marty, who were already at the club.
"We certainly expect a tough game at Old Bleach. It's never an easy venue to visit. They have also brought in Ireland international Neil Mulholland from Lisnagarvey, who is a massive capture for them."
Meanwhile, Whitehead begin the defence of their NIBA Division One crown with Barry Browne still on board.
The Ireland international is now residing in Belfast and was on the verge of a move to Belmont, but he'll be in the Whitehead colours for today's opener against Dromore at Islandmagee Road.
"We thought we would lose Barry this season because travelling has become an issue, so it's a relief he decided to stay," said Whitehead's Stephen Moran.
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Dundonald v Divis, Donaghadee v Bangor, Balmoral v Lisnagarvey, Whitehead v Dromore, Banbridge v Portadown.
NI Private Greens League Division One: Mossley v Pickie, Ballymena v Ulster Transport, Old Bleach v Dunbarton, Larne v NICS, Belmont v Ewarts.
NI Provincial Senior League: Ballymoney v Dunluce, Limavady v Letterkenny, Ballycastle v Portrush, City of Derry v Cookstown, Portglenone v Coleraine.