Belmont edge out Ballymena in Cup final thriller
It was a case of that 'seventh heaven' feeling for Robin Horner, Tony Budde and Davy Hamilton as Belmont again got their hands on the IBA Senior Cup following thrilling final shoot-out against Ballymena at Gilford.
The Belfast team edged home by three shots which earned them the famous piece of silverware for the first time since 2007.
It was fitting that Horner played a significant part in the success. It was his 22-9 win over Jim Baker that ultimately tilted the tie in his team's favour.
Spare a thought for battling Ballymena though. It was their second major disappointment in 48 hours as they were also beaten by Dunbarton in the PGL Senior Cup final on Thursday night.
But the day belonged to Horner, Budde and Hamilton, who picked up their seventh IBA Cup winners' medal.
"We knew Ballymena would come out fighting after their defeat in the PGL Cup final," said Horner. "We knew it would be a battle. But the boys stood up to the challenge."
The Sky Blues got off to a better start as they led by three shots (14-11) after five ends.
But high-flying Belmont, who are also on course to retain the PGL Division One title, soon found their rhythm and moved into an eight shots lead at the half way stage.
Ballymena cut the deficit to four at 15 ends, which set up a nerve tingling finale. The scores were locked at 69-69 with the rinks skipped by Jim Baker and Robin Horner left on the green. Stephen Coleman and Nigel Robinson had racked up wins against Roy Battersby and Stuart Bennett, while Simon Martin claimed a 19-18 victory against Ballymena's Andy Duncan.
Horner approached the final end with a 10 shots advantage over the former Irish international team boss - and lay three with one Baker deliver to come. He attempted to spring the jack, but missed by inches. The cup was on it's way back to Belmont.
Meanwhile, Whitehead retained the NIBA Division One title, but had to rely on the half-a-point they picked up against Bangor at Ward Park to edge them over the finish line.
Results: Irish Bowling Association's Senior Cup final: Ballymena 69 Belmont 72.
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Lisnagarvey 79 (6) Banbridge 71 (1), Bangor 81 (6.5) Whitehead 67 (0.5), Divis 68 (2) Donaghadee 83 (5), Dromore 67 (1) Portadown 101 (6).
Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Ewarts 64 (1) Old Bleach 66 (6), Pickie 80 (1) Larne 93 (6).
NI Provincial Bowling Association Division One: City of Derry 53 (1) Portrush 98 (6), Letterkenny 67 (5.5) Ballycastle 64 (1.5), Limavady 67 (2) Dunluce 68 (5).