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Belmont must step up title defence, maintains Hamilton

By David Mason

Belmont's Davy Hamilton admits his team's Private Greens League Division One title defence will be scrutinised by Dunbarton tomorrow.

The south Belfast team produced a fantastic finish last campaign to whip the trophy from under the noses of the Gilford boys, who were on the brink of a seventh title success.

Belmont have carried on this season where they left off, racking up impressive wins against Ewarts and NICS, reeling in 11 points, in their opening two games, but this will undoubtedly be a step up.

"It's good to get early points on the board," said Hamilton. "In saying that, they were games we were expected to win with no disrespect to the other teams.

"Dunbarton have been the team to beat in recent seasons, and they have significantly strengthened this year.

"But to win this title, you have to make sure you win your home games. The points you pick up on the road are a bonus.

"We pinched the league title, our first success since 2003, by picking up 34 out of a possible 35 points at the end of last season. We need that same consistency if we are to make a successful defence."

The other big fixture in the division, Old Bleach's home outing against Ballymena, has been postponed.

With Stephen Kirkwood away on international duty in the Netherlands, where he is due to feature in the Dutch Open, the Randalstown club took advantage of IBA rules and requested the game to be rescheduled. It will now be played on May 25.

Kirkwood is joined by Robbie Maher (St James's Gate), Rosie Brown (Dun Laogharie) and Marian Lynch (Crumlin) in Holland. The tournament, which features mens' pairs, ladies' pairs and mixed fours, takes place in Harlmen from May 8-14.

Meanwhile, something must give when unbeaten Ballymoney and Portrush go head-to-head at Church Street.

Ballymoney have made the title their own over the last three years and they are still the benchmark in the PBA Senior League.

Fixtures, NIBA Division One: Dundonald v Lisnagarvey, Donaghadee v Dromore, Balmoral v Portadown, Whitehead v Banbridge, Divis v Bangor.

NIPGL Division One: Old Bleach v Ballymena, Larne v Ulster Transport, Belmont v Dunbarton, Pickie v NICS, Mossley v Ewarts.

NIPBA Senior League: Dunluce v Letterkenny, Ballymoney v Portrush, Limavady v Cookstown, Ballycastle v Coleraine, City of Derry v Portglenone.

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