John McCullough's bowls title defence starting to hit top gear
Title holder John McCullough yesterday marched into the semi-finals of the AIIB National singles championship at the Watson Stadium.
The Belfast player produced a performance to suggest he's in no mood to surrender the trophy he won for the first time back in January.
McCullough was pushed to the wire by his international team-mate Clifford Craig in his opening match in the qualifier, edging over the finish line with a final-bowl winner (21-20).
He also had to call on all his powers of resistance to end the challenge of a battling Derek Smith, who lost out 21-18 at the quarter-final stage.
McCullough will now face Stephen Coleman Snr in the semi-final at the Ballybrakes Community Stadium on January 23.
The other tie will feature last season's beaten finalist Mark McPeak and the 2012 champion Simon Martin, both from the Belfast club.
AIIB National singles: D Smith (BCIBC) 21 A Kennedy (BCIBC) 11; J McCullough (BIBC) 21 C Craig (BIBC) 20; R Kirkwood (BIBC) 21 A Coleman (CAIBC) 11; A Duncan (CAIBC) 11 S Coleman sen (CAIBC) 21; M McPeak (BIBC) v I McClure (BCIBC) (withdrew); B Kane (BCIBC) 16 S Gibson (BIBC) 21; S Martin (BIBC) 21 A Kyle (CAIBC) 6; D Atkinson (BIBC) 12 S Bennett (BIBC) 21.
Quarter-finals: Smith 18 McCullough 21; Kirkwood 20 Coleman 21; McPeak 21 Gibson 4; Martin 21 Bennett 12.
IIBA Club Championship; Group C: Rosslea (Monaghan) bye; St Joseph's (West Down) bye; Ardstraw (Mid Tyrone) 8 Cranagill (Arrmagh) 26; Salisbury (North Belfast) 13 Strabane Cricket Club (Foyle) 28; St Eunan's (Donegal), bye; Loughenreagh (Northern) 32 St Mary's (Mid Down) 13; Drummond (North West) 24 All Saints (West Down)16; Buckna (Mid Antrim) 8 Whitecross (Oriel) 33
Quarter-finals: Roslea 30 St Joseph's 26; Crangagill 18 Strabane CC 20; Loughenreagh bye; Drummond 21 Whitecross 27.
Semi-finals: St Joseph's 17 Strabane CC 33; Loughenreagh 16 Whitecross 32.
Final: Strabane CC 24 Whitecross 21.
Group D: Corduff (Oriel) 23 Marian (Oriel) 22; Drumgor (Armagh) 21 Cookstown High (Mid Ulster) 23; Armoy (North Eastern) 27 Sean McDermott (Monaghan) 16; Ramelton (Donegal) 21 Cliftonville 11; St John's (West Down) 17 Redeemer (Oriel) 29; Du Pont (North West) 24 St Anthony's (Armagh) 35; Clogherney (Mid Tyrone) 27 Ardaghy (Monaghan) 15; Kildress (Mid Ulster) 22 Mossley (East Antrim) 30.
Quarter-finals: Corduff 13 Cookstown High 28; Armoy Pres 9 Ramelton 28; Redeemer 20 St Anthony's 30; Clogherney 20 Mossley 19.
Semi-finals: Cookstown High 30 Rameltoon 13; St Anthony's 26 Clogherney 22.
Final: Cookstown High 29 St Anthony's 13.