Belfast Telegraph

Whitehead chasing big prize with superb trophy treble in sight

 

By Alex Mills

Whitehead will look to hit new heights at Fruithill Park today by claiming an Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup final slot for the first time in the club’s history.

The east Antrim boys are on a triple trophy surge. They’ve already got the NIBA Senior Cup on show, while they are on course to retain the league title.

But winning the game’s top knockout tournament would be the icing on the cake. Although they will be hot favourites when they come up against their NIBA rivals Balmoral, they’ll be taking nothing for granted.

“We’ve never been to the final, so that’s a massive incentive for us,” said Whitehead’s Stephen Moran. “We lost to Bangor at the semi-final stage last season and previously to Belmont around 10 years back.

“Although we have quite a good record against Balmoral, we’ll certainly not be underestimating them.”

Balmoral handed their opponents a massive favour on Thursday night by beating table topping Banbridge in a vital league game, but the high-fives will end there.

“The team has put a good run of form together, and our win over Banbridge on Thursday night will give us a lot of confidence,” said Graham Pierpoint.

“Whitehead are a strong team, and I’m sure many people have tipped them for the cup, so it will be a big challenge for us.”

The other semi-final, featuring Coleraine and Larne at Ballymena, is a tough one to call.

Larne’s Paul Robinson remembers the last time the teams clashed in the cup, stating: “Coleraine beat us at their green four years ago. However, I think we now have a stronger team and we will be at full strength. We now have a great chance.”

Coleraine were cup winners back in 2013 and Jordan Dallas would relish another appearance on the biggest day on the bowls calendar.

He said: “We have reserved our best form for the IBA Cup this season. We still have great memories of our cup win a few years back and it would be great to get to the final again.”

Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup, semi-finals: Larne v Coleraine (at Ballymena), Whitehead v Balmoral (at Falls).

Irish Bowling Association Intermediate Cup, semi-finals: Ballywalter v Dungiven (at Ewarts), Ballycastle v North Down (at Larne).

Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup, semi-finals: Dunbarton v Banbridge (at Rathfriland), Whitehead B v Larne B (at Balmoral).

Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Ewarts v Pickie, Ballymena v Belmont, Falls v Dunbarton, Ulster Transport v Old Bleach.

Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Dundonald v Banbridge, Portadown v Bangor, Donaghadee v Lisnagarvey.

Belfast Telegraph

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