Banbridge dig deep to see off Cookstown and keep IBA Senior Cup bid on track
Under-strength Banbridge produced a stunning performance to claim a slot in the second round of the IBA Senior Cup on Saturday.
They haven't had their hands on the famous old trophy since 1973, but the tenacity and resistance displayed against a battling Cookstown side at Meeting House Road, would suggest things could be about to change.
The NIBA boys held their nerve when it mattered to register a famous two-shot victory, even though they were without five first-team regulars, including the influential Aaron O'Keefe.
It was Seamus Skelton's whopping 40-9 win against Sean Quinn that helped tilt the tie in favour of the home team. Kyle Blakely also made a significant contribution, beating Colin Hogg 21-14.
But Cookstown went down with all guns blazing, with Philip Wallace romping home (21-11) against Gavin Blakely while Mark Wilson racked up a solid 32-11 victory against Nigel Hamilton.
Banbridge's reward for their first-round victory is a home fixture against PGL side Ewarts on June 13.
"We had to dig deep to get the result, it was a tense finish," said Skelton. "We were missing quite a few players which makes the victory even more satisfying.
"It's nice to have a home draw in the next round, but Ewarts are a good team, so we'll be taking nothing for granted.
Cup holders Belmont eased into the next round following a commanding 107-63 win at Ulster Transport. The East Belfast side were again forced to forfeit home advantage due to the on-going work at the Kincora Avenue headquarters.
But it made little difference as Belmont cruised home on three rinks, courtesy of Simon Martin, Simon Cavan and Roy Battersby.
Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup first round: Ulster Maple Leaf 74 Lurgan 81, Dunluce 97 Dun Laogharie 70, Letterkenny 97 Portadown 63, Lisnagarvey 76 Mossley 80, Bray 62 Pickie 101, Banbridge 82 Cookstown 80, Limavady 85 CYM 88, St James's Gate 88 Willowfield 61, Donaghadee 82 Falls 94, Divis 76 Old Bleach 86, Ulster Transport 63 Belmont 107, Blackrock 76 Ballywalter 78.
IBA Senior Cup second round: Crumlin 50 Bangor 93.
IBA Intermediate Cup first round: North Down 65 Shaftesbury 69, Comber 81 Downpatrick 66, Shorts 75 Kilrea 80.
IBA Junior Cup first round: Dunbartyon 101 Mossley 63, Curran 86 Letterkenny 75, Cliftonville 85 Ulster Transport 55, Pickie B 92 Falls B 70, Limavady B 89 Lurgan 75, Clarendon 82 Cavehill 77.
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Balmoral 98 (5) Dundonald 65 (2).
Northern Ireland Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Coleraine 83 (4.5) City of Derry 67 (2.5).