Belfast Telegraph

Paul Robinson has high hopes of a good year at Larne

By David Mason

Larne's Paul Robinson admits that his team's early season ambitions will be put to the test when they visit Belmont tomorrow (2pm).

The east Antrim boys got their Private Greens League Division One campaign off to a solid start by snapping up five points from their visit to Ewarts last week, but Robinson is expecting something entirely different this time out.

"Belmont are never far away when it comes to winning trophies, so this will be a big test," he said.

"We have been running Belmont close over the past few seasons, but they have managed to up their challenge over the last quarter of the games we have played."

Larne are boosted by the inclusion of former players Andy Kyle and Jason Kerr, who have returned following spells Ballymena and Belmont.

Robinson insists his club's opening games may well paint the picture for the remainder of the campaign. He added: "We have a difficult run of games to start off with.

"After Belmont, it's Pickie at home before we host Ballymena and Dunbarton.

"They don't come much tougher. But we have to face these teams sometime, so why not now, especially as the greens are still settling down."

Larne finished in fifth place in the table last season, Robinson believes the team are capable of bettering that.

"We did quite well last season, but with the inclusion of Jason and Andy, we have to set our sights a bit higher," he added.

"We've also got Ian Semple back in the squad, who has returned home from Germany.

"And, with players like Darren Witherspoon, who has worked his way through the Under-25 system, hopefully, we can make an impact this season.

"We have a relatively young team and we approach each game with confidence, but we we'll certainly be taking any team for granted."

Elsewhere, title holders Dunbarton begin the challenge - their game last week was postponed as a mark of respect following the passing of Old Bleach player Bryan Magrath - against newly promoted Ards, while Pickie look a home banker at home to Willowfield.

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

NI Private Greens League Division One: Belmont v Larne, Pickie v Willowfield, Dunbarton v Ards, Ulster Transport v Old Bleach, Ballymena v Ewarts.

NI Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Letterkenny v Dunluce, Cookstown v Portrush, Limavady v Ballymoney, Ballycastle v City of Derry, Portglenone v Coleraine.

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