Belfast Telegraph

Aaron O'Keefe confident Banbridge can spring a surprise

 

By Alex Mills

Banbridge's IBA Senior Cup credentials will be scrutinised when they travel to face past-masters Belmont in a second-round shoot-out at Kincora Avenue today.

The high-flying County Down boys have yet to taste defeat this season - a run of results that has catapulted them to the top of the NIBA Division One table.

But Belmont are specialists when it comes to the game's top knockout tournament. They have lifted the coveted trophy on nine occasions, their last success back in 2016.

And they still hold the record of being the only team to have paraded the famous piece of silverware on five successive occasions, from 2003-2007.

So, Banbridge, whose only Cup win was back in 1973, know they are up against it.

Banbridge's Aaron O'Keefe said: "It's a massive tie for both teams. We know Belmont have a huge Cup pedigree, but we are looking for a decent run in the tournament.

"We are in great form at the minute and are hoping to take the winning momentum into this tie.

"Unfortunately, we'll be without Kyle Blakely, which is a blow. But it's a game we are very much looking forward to.

"We last played Belmont around four years ago in the Cup and lost out narrowly on that occasion. We are hoping for a positive outcome from this tie."

Having already suffered two defeats - which leaves them playing catch up in the league - and been dumped out of the PGL Senior Cup by Old Bleach, it means there is little room for error from Belmont.

"Banbridge have been flying so far," said Simon Cavan. "But we are at home and we must make the most of that advantage. It has the makings of a cracking game."

Meanwhile, something must give when Whitehead go head-to-head with Dunbarton at Islandmagee Road.

Both sides approached the game unbeaten but have their own agenda for being in the hat for the third-round draw.

Whitehead are looking to break their IBA Cup duck, while the Gilford boys are looking to regain the title they last won back in 2015.

Fixtures, Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup second round: CYM v Kenilworth, Old Bleach v Larne, Divis v Dun Laogharie, Bangor v Portadown, Ulster Transport v Salisbury, Carrickfergus v Blackrock, Whitehead v Dunbarton, Pickie v Clarendon, Portglenone v Lisnagarvey, Dundonald v Coleraine, Lurgan v Cookstown, Dunluce v Portrush, Belmont v Banbridge, Leinster v Balmoral, Falls v Limavady, Ards v Ballymena.

Irish Bowling Association Intermediate Cup second round: Dungiven v Mossley, Ballymena B v Downpatrick, Hilden v Malone, Ballycastle v Cavehill, Ballywalter v Holywood, Rathfriland v Dungannon, City of Derry v Markethill, Ierne v Bessbrook, Kilread v Comber, Sydenham v Belmont B, Castle v Forth River, Annalong v CI-Knock, Londonderry Park v Cliftonville, Brooke Park v Finaghy, Antrim Lawn v Castlerock, North Down v NICS.

Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup second round: Dun Laogharie v Larne B, Belmont C v Banbridge B, Carrickfergus B v Cliftonville B, Portrush B v Pickie B, St James's Gate B v Ewarts B, Lisnagarvey B v Balmoral B, Brookgreen v Hilden B, Castleton v Donaghadee B, Mossley B v Cookstown B, Dunluce B v Limavady B, City of Derry B v Londonderry Park B, Old Bleach B v Falls B, Dunbarton B v Ulster Transport B, CYM B v Rathfriland B, Lurgan B v Coleraine B, Whitehead B v Crumlin B.

Belfast Telegraph

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