Belfast Telegraph

Provincials homing in on elusive IBA crown

Colin Hogg believes the Provincials can bridge a five-year gap in the IBA Inter-Association Championship that gets under way on the North West coast tonight.

The hosts begin their campaign against the Bowling League of Ireland at Lodge Road, Coleraine, which gives them a great chance of getting early points on the board.

"We haven't won the title since 2010, so that is a massive incentive in itself," said Cookstown man Hogg.

We are also hosting the tournament which gives us a little advantage over the other associations. It's important we make the most of that.

"We had a great little run in the tournament, winning three titles in four years from 2007, but we haven't managed it since.

"Being on our home greens, this is probably our best chance of altering that stat."

The Northern Ireland Bowling Association begin their title defence tonight against the Private Greens League at Portstewart.

Having lost three of their most influential players, it's going to be a tough assignment if the NIBA boys are to hoist the trophy for the third successive year.

Noel Graham, one of the country's most decorated players, has stepped away from representative bowls while Simon Martin moved to Belmont and will now face his former colleagues and Graham McKee is suspended until June 1.

"We are missing three quality players, who played a massive part in last season's success," said NIBA selector Stephen Moran. "The team produced one of their best displays last year, winning all three games, so it will be a tough act to follow."

Martin is one of six new faces in a revamped PGL side. He is joined by Stephen Kirkwood (Old Bleach) and Darren Witherspoon (Larne) along with Dunbarton trio Marty Trainor, Chris Trainor and, Peter Convery. Ballymena's Mark Torrington has been recalled.

Schedule, Tonight, 5.30pm: NI Provincial Bowling Association v Bowling League of Ireland (at Coleraine); NI Private Greens League v Northern Ireland Bowling Association (at Portstewart).

Tomorrow, 9.30am: NIPBA v NIPGL (at Coleraine); BLI v NIBA (at Portstewart).

2.30pm: NIPBA v NIBA (at Coleraine); NIPGL v BLI (at Portstewart).

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