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Ballymoney left facing a tough task in quest for silverware

By David Mason

Published 20/06/2016

Eye on prize: Gary Kelly’s Ballymoney face Belmont in quarter-final clash
Eye on prize: Gary Kelly’s Ballymoney face Belmont in quarter-final clash

Ballymoney's Gary Kelly shook his head in frustration when his team were pitched in against Belmont in the quarter -finals of the IBA Senior Cup.

Having just triumphed in the big Provincial battle against Dunluce, Ballymoney soon learned they face possibly the toughest tie of the lot when they travel to Belfast on July 23.

Kelly's boys have gone close to lifting the big prize in recent years - they are still haunted by the defeat by Ballymena in the 2010 final. So, if they are to eventually get their hands on the trophy for the first time, they will have to do it the hard way.

"They don't come much more difficult," said the Ireland player, who will captain the side in next month's Home Internationals in Wales. "But if you have aspirations in winning the trophy, you have to beat the best."

Dunluce, looking for a repeat of their 2011 cup success, were missing the influential Uel McKeeman for the weekend fixture - and they just fell short when it mattered.

It was the rink skipped by Alistair Steele that tilted the tie in favour of the visitors as they racked up a 30-16 win against Paul Moore's combination.

Brian McAlary also made a significant contribution by beating Rodney Kane 24-16.

But Barry Kane set up a tense finish with a 21-10 win against Willie McCaw, while Kelly battled out a 19-19 result with Alistair Kennedy. Ballymena are still smarting from last season's defeat in the final by Dunbarton in a game they carelessly tossed away in the final few ends.

They gained a little revenge last time out when the sent the holders packing. And, they once more demonstrated their cup pedigree by claiming a battling seven shots win over Old Bleach at Randalstown.

Stephen Coleman, Jim Baker, who last week resigned as Ireland team boss, and Nigel Robinson made it a day to remember for the Sky Blues with wins against Michael Nutt (20-15), Neil Booth (18-13) and Stephen Kirkwood (26-24).

Neil Mulholland defeated Ballymena's Andy Duncan (19-14) to set up a thrilling finish.

IBA Senior cup, quarter finals: Portrush v Dun Laogharie, Ballymena v Mossley, Cookstown v Falls, Belmont v Ballymoney.

IBA Intermediate Cup, quarter finals: Shaftesbury v Dungiven, Ards v Sydenham, Forth River v Bessbrook, Westmanstown v Belmont B.

IBA Junior Cup, quarter finals: Ballymoney v Whitehead, Cookstown v BETS, Ballymena C v CYM, Belmont C v Balmoral.

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