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Belmont in the mix as title race gathers pace

By David Mason

Published 17/08/2015

Taking aim: Ivan Cullen of Divis takes on Portadown
Taking aim: Ivan Cullen of Divis takes on Portadown

Belmont have slipped practically unnoticed into the Private Greens League Division One title reckoning, but former international Davy Hamilton insists they are still big outsiders.

With the finish line in sight, the fourth-placed east Belfast boys have clawed their way back to within four-and-a-half points of leaders Old Bleach.

Larne and Dunbarton are sandwiched in between, which means the scrap for the championship will almost certainly go the distance.

Old Bleach once again shot themselves in the foot at the weekend by slumping to shock one-shot defeat at Willowfield, picking up only two-and-a-half points.

In contrast, Larne swept aside the challenge of Ballymena; Dunbarton demolished Pickie and Belmont reeled in a full house at home to Ulster Transport. Significantly, Old Bleach have played one game more than their three rivals.

"It certainly promises to a fascinating finish," said Hamilton. "Old Bleach appeared to have it wrapped up a few weeks back, but they have now suffered three defeats. Larne have done fantastically well this year to stay in the top three or four throughout the campaign, while Dunbarton are never far away. They'll not want to give up their title without a fight.

"We are probably the outsiders of the pack, even though we still have a game in hand over Old Bleach.

"We've still quite a few tricky games up ahead, so we'll basically take one at a time to see where we end up. Dunbarton have certainly come on strong over the past four or five weeks. They are in two cup finals and within striking distance of reclaiming the title."

Larne are now merely one-and-a-half points adrift following their excellent nine shots win at home to Ballymena - picking up five points for their efforts.

Andy Kyle was the pick of the home team's skips, beating Nigel Robinson 26-13. David McRandal chipped in with a hard-fought 22-21 win against Andy Morrison.

The Sky Blues replied through Andy Duncan and Stephen Coleman, who defeated Michael Murphy (20-18) and Alan McLean (24-21).

Scores: NI Private Greens League Division One: Pickie 44 (0) Dunbarton 102 (7), Belmont 91 (7) Ulster Transport 45 (0), Larne 87 (5) Ballymena 78 (2), Willowfield 70 (4.5) Old Bleach 69 (2.5), Ewats (4.5) Ards (2.5).

Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Divis 101 (5) Portadown 82 (2), Bangor 116 (7) Carrick 61 (0), Balmoral 68 (2) Whitehead 89 (5), Lurgan 84 (2) Banbridge 85 (5), Dundonald 90 (7) Lisnagarvey 65 (0).

NI Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Ballymoney 91 (6) Portrush 60 (1), Ballycastle 67 (2) Cookstown 77 (5), Coleraine 84 (7) Limavady 42 (0).

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