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Whitehead's fightback is hard on plucky Divis


Stephen Moran

Whitehead's Stephen Moran admitted his team heaved a huge sigh of relief following their last-bowl one-shot win over Divis at Falls Park on Saturday.

On paper, it looked an away banker. The East Antrim boys approached the game looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the NIBA Division One campaign, while Divis were still craving their first win.

And, right up until the final delivery of an intriguing contest, they were in with every chance of causing one of the biggest upsets so far.

"I don't know how Divis are at the bottom of the table because they produced a superb performance," said Moran.

"We were 20-odd shots down after 12 ends, so we had to battle our way back into the game.

"It was certainly too close for comfort. Even though we led by two shots going into the last end, Divis still could have won it. If they keep producing performances like that, they'll soon be off the foot of the table."

It was gripping stuff. Whitehead led by two shots with only one rink left on the green.

Divis' Gerard McGleave held a one-shot advantage over Ireland and Commonwealth Games skip Marty McHugh, but had the chance to trail the jack to pick up a possible two.

McGleave duly drew the shot that earned him an impressive 21-19 victory, but it meant his team had to settle for two points instead of five.

Paddy Rooney ensured the game would go right to the wire by beating James Caldwell 30-15.

But Whitehead demonstrated why they lifted the title for the third successive time last year.

They roared back in the two remaining rinks with Barry Browne and Stephen McKinley racking up victories against Liam Wright (25-16) and Brendan Power (23-14).

Meanwhile, Belmont's PGL Division One title aspirations took a battering when they suffered a shock six-shots defeat by newly promoted Falls at Fruithill Park.

It was former international Paul McEwan who did the damage by inflicting a 28-9 defeat on Roy Battersby - a deficit the visitors struggled to repair on the three other rinks.

Even though Simon Martin, Simon Cavan and Stuart Bennett enjoyed wins against Michael McCafferty (24-15), Michael Morgan (27-13) and Mark Lecky (19-17), it wasn't enough to prevent Belmont crashing to their second defeat of the campaign.

Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Ballymena 85 (5) Pickie 78 (2), Ewarts 71 (3) Larne 73 (4), Falls 83 (4) Belmont 77 (3), Old Bleach 52 (0) Dunbarton 92 (7), Ulster Transport 90 (6) Ards 68 (0).

Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Dundonald 98 (6) Lisnagarvey 51 (1), Lurgan 70 (5) Bangor 66 (2), Donaghadee 80 (3) Balmoral 82 (4), Divis 81 (2) Whitehead 82 (5).

Northern Ireland Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Limavady 76 (2) Cookstown 85 (5), Letterkenny 96 (7) Portglenone 53 (0), Coleraine 75 (6) Dunluce 64 (1), Ballymoney 85 (5) Portrush 68 (2).

Belfast Telegraph