No place like home for Belmont as Bangor humbled
It was billed as a clash of the Titans, but it ended up a stroll in the sun for Belmont who confidently marched into the quarter finals of the Irish Bowling Association's Senior Cup following a runaway win over Bangor on Saturday.
The game was held over from last weekend because the Women's International Series took pride of place at the home of the Private Greens League kingpins.
Bangor arrived in East Belfast brimming with pride and determined to hold on to the trophy they won so impressively last August.
But like so many teams this season, they flattered to deceive on the lush surface at Belmont Avenue and were forced to admit defeat long before the 21 ends were complete.
The Seasiders had to play catch-up practically from the start and, although they battled manfully to remain in touch, they were outclassed on the day.
When 15 ends flashed up on the scoreboard, the wind had already been blown out of their sails - their vociferous encouragement on the green had been silenced.
They knew by that stage the famous piece of silverware was about to be transported elsewhere - and the dream of a semi-final outing at Larne on July 28 had disappeared.
"It's a defeat we have to take on the chin," admitted Bangor's Robert Hastings.
"It was a struggle right from the start. Belmont proved once again that they are a difficult side to beat on their home green.
"We are now out of the two cup competitions (they were beaten in the earlier rounds of the NIBA Cup), so we now must focus on the league for the remainder of the season."
Belmont took a stranglehold of the game mainly through the contribution of Simon Martin and Stuart Bennett, who racked up wins against Mark Shannon (22-14) and Keith Taylor (19-9).
Roy Battersby chipped in with a telling 21-17 success against Hastings.
Bangor's only moment of relief came from Gary Scott, who defeated Simo9n Cavan 21-19.
"It was a fantastic team performance," said Cavan. "To a man, everyone of the boys played a part."
Belmont were joined in the last eight by Pickie, who held their nerve to claim a four shots win over Falls at Broadway.
That tie fell victim to the weather the previous Saturday as the green flooded just before the start. Although it was fit for purpose three-quarters of a hour later, Falls had already packed up an gone home.
But Pickie made no mistake second time around - they will not roll out the welcome mat for Balmoral next month.
It developed into an intriguing tie, which wasn't decided to almost the final bowl. Jamie Watson and Neil Belch delivered for the home side by beating Paul McEwan (18-14) and Mark Lecky (22-18), but battling Falls took it right to the wire, with Michael Morgan and Jim Frazer defeating Paul McVeigh (19-18) and Billy Angus (25-22).
Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup, third round: Belmont 81 Bangor 61, Pickie 80 Falls 76.
Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Ballymena 109 (7) Ulster Transport 52 (0), Ards 77 (5) Old Bleach 72 (2), Larne 74 (1) Dunbarton 79 (6).
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Whitehead 98 (6) Lurgan 78 (1), Donaghadee 98 (6) Portadown 80 (1), Divis 87 (6) Dundonald 65 (1), Lisnagarvey 68 (1.5) Banbridge 75 (5.5).
Revised Irish Cup quarter final draw: Coleraine v Dun Laogharie, CYM v Whitehead, Pickie v Balmoral, Larne v Belmont.