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Lurgan hold no fear of Ballymoney

Bowls

By Alex Mills

Lurgan will travel to Ballymoney in more hope than expectation but will still be aiming to pull off a shock result in the first round of the Irish Bowling Association's Senior Cup.

Most of the big guns will not be introduced until the second phase on June 8, so it's an opportunity for the visitors to book a trip to fellow NIBA side Donaghadee on that occasion.

Although Ballymoney have yet to scribble their name on the famous old trophy, they have an impressive pedigree in cup combat.

They have been in the final on three occasions but have yet to pop the champagne. The last of those defeats was in 2013 when they lost to neighbours Coleraine in an all-PBA decider.

Having lost to Londonderry Park on the opening day of the league campaign, Lurgan have since racked up wins against Banbridge and Portadown which has propelled them to third place in the table, behind Bangor and Whitehead.

They also defeated their Mid-Ulster neighbours, Portadown, in the NIBA Senior Cup on Wednesday night. They will now host Whitehead next time out which sends them into the Ballymoney game in the best possible shape.

"Even though Ballymoney will be without Gary Kelly (he is currently in Australia), they are still a formidable side," said Lurgan's Jeff McCullough.

"They are particularly difficult opponents on their home green.

"But we'll go there and give it a shot. We've had a few good results over the past few weeks which has helped build confidence in the squad. Anything can happen in a one-off cup tie."

Irish Cup aristocrats Belmont were due to begin their campaign with a home tie against Portglenone, but the Provincial side pulled out of the fixture.

It means Belmont will now face a massive test in the second round when they come up against Irish Cup holders Larne early next month.

Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup first round: Ballymoney v Lurgan, Balmoral v Pickie, Londonderry Park v Dun Laogharie, Lisnagarvey v Dundonald, Divis v Portadown, Bray v Letterkenny, Railway Union v Cookstown.

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