Portrush out to turn formbook on its head by beating Belmont
Portrush are out to rewrite the record books in today's IBA Senior Cup semi-final showdown with Belmont at Larne, but Ian McClure admits it's a tall order.
The Provincial side have never appeared in the showcase decider and, if that is not a daunting enough challenge, they must contend with Irish Cup aristocrats Belmont, who remain the only team to have lifted the coveted silverware in five successive years.
And, going by the form book, this semi-final shouldn't be a contest. But try telling that to Portrush who defied the odds in the last two rounds by dumping out Ballymoney and Dunbarton.
"The last time we came close to making the final was in 2016 when we lost to Ballymena at the semi-final stage," said McClure, who skippered Ireland to that memorable win in the Home International Series in Scotland last month.
"So we have a big incentive. In saying that, Belmont are seasoned campaigners. They have won the trophy on numerous occasions and they know what it takes when you reach this stage.
"Their league form is good, the PGL title race is between Dunbarton and Belmont.
"In contrast, we have been blowing hot and cold in our league. But we've been written off already in the current campaign. We were given little hope of progressing in our last two cup ties, so we can take a lot of confidence from those performances.
"We'll be going to Larne to give a good account of ourselves ... you never know what can happen in a one-off cup tie."
In the other semi-final, Banbridge will travel to Dublin to face Bowling League of Ireland side CYM. It's the NIBA Division One team's first semi-final outing since 1984 - and they are determined not to let the opportunity pass them by.
"It's a difficult game against a good CYM side," said Aaran O'Keefe. "We played them before in the cup about seven or eight years ago and they defeated us by a couple of shots on their home green. We know it will be tough."
Fixtures: Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup, semi-finals: Portrush v Belmont (at Larne), Banbridge v CYM (at Blackrock).
Irish Bowling Association Intermediate Cup, semi-finals: BETS v Belmont (at Balmoral), Willowfield v Ballywalter (at Pickie).
Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup, semi-finals: Coleraine B v Greenhills (at Rathfriland), Dunbarton B v Ballymoney B (at Cookstown).
Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Dunbarton v Larne, Salisbury v Pickie, Falls v Ballymena, Ewarts v Old Bleach.
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Bangor v Balmoral, Portadown v Londonderry Park, Donaghadee v Lurgan, Whitehead v Sydenham.