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Jackie Smyth beats his finals hoodoo in Portrush singles

By Alex Mills

Jackie Smyth was beaming from ear to ear on Saturday night - and little wonder!

The Ireland international selector popped the bubbly after winning the coveted Portrush singles tournament, defeating Old Bleach's Tom Rainey (21-17) in the final at Ramore Head.

Smyth then helped Portrush swat away the challenge off Dun Laogharie on the same green which booked the Provincial boys a place in the semi-finals of the IBA Senior cup.

"It doesn't get much better," said Smyth. "I've been in five finals in the Portrush singles, but that's only the second time I've managed to get my hands on the trophy, so I'm delighted.

"The only other time I managed to win the tournament was back in 1994 when I defeated my pal Ian McCure in the final. This one was a long time coming.

"Reaching the semi-final of the IBA Cup is a massive boost. We seem to reserving our best performances for the cup games. But we'll be taking nothing for granted. We now face a massive test against Ballymena in the semis, but we'll focus on that when it comes around."

It was Smyth who did most of the damage against the Bowling League of Ireland side, skipping his rink to a 27-16 win against Mark Donohoe.

Gary McCloy and Ian McClure also made a significant contribution by beating Blair Somers (22-11) and Mike Tyrell (19-15).

Malcolm Brown prevented the Provincial team from making it a full house by beating Simon Colvin 30-15.

Meanwhile, Ballymoney's IBA Cup woe struck again - this time against Belmont in East Belfast. Having suffered three finals defeats since 2010, the Provincial boys bowed out against a team that have already previously written its own little chapter in the history of the tournament by being the only side to have won it on five successive seasons.

Belmont were simply a cut above Ballymoney on this occasion. Stuart Bennett was PGL team's top skip. The Ireland international enjoyed a 21-10 win against Alistair Steele.

Roy Battersby and Simon Martin also played their part by beating Brian McAlary (18-12) and Gerry Kelly (25-16).

Willie McCaw prevented the Belfast boys from racking up a clean sweep by claiming a 16-14 win against Robin Horner.

Belfast Telegraph

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