Lurgan seniors moving on up thanks to final weekend win

Peter McGrail, Stephen Poots (club vice-president), Gareth Bunting and Alan Roberts celebrate Lurgan's promotion last weekend into Division One.INLM37-130
Peter McGrail, Stephen Poots (club vice-president), Gareth Bunting and Alan Roberts celebrate Lurgan's promotion last weekend into Division One.INLM37-130
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Lurgan 72 (2pts)

Dromore A 91 (5pts)

Lurgan Seniors will play their bowls in Division 1 of the NIBA League next season, courtesy of the two points they secured in a nail biting finish to the season against Dromore at Lurgan Park on Saturday.

Entering the match both teams had the opportunity to clinch the runners-up position in Division 2 and gain promotion. Visitors, and local rivals, Dromore need all 7 points on offer while Lurgan needed either a win or two points to guarantee promotion. For a considerable part of the match Dromore held the advantage.

At the halfway stage the visitors were ahead in all four rinks and held a 56 to 38 lead. With 6 ends left Lurgan were still down in all 4 rinks and it must have seemed to their watching support that they had blown their chance. However, it was in that last stretch for home that Lurgan showed their mettle and battling spirit to secure the vital match points.

It was on the outer rinks, Rinks 1 and 4, where Lurgan felt the strength of Dromore’s determination to claim all the match points they needed for promotion. On Rink 1, skip Mansell Montgomery, Ronnie McCullough, Michael Bunting and Jeff McCullough were paired against Dromore’s G. Clinghan’s four. Over the last few weeks this Lurgan foursome has been the model of winning consistency but met their match on Saturday. Despite the best efforts and never-say-die attitude of the Lurgan four they were out scored by 12 points to 2 and went down to a final scoreline of 28–13 in Dromore’s favour.

On the other outer rink, Rink 4, Gareth Bunting, Reece Millar, John Gilliland and skip Harry Cosgrove matched up against the Dromore rink skipped by R. Greer. Initially, Cosgrove’s rink held a slight advantage but disaster struck in the fourth, fifth and sixth ends where they conceded 12 shots and fell 13–3 behind. Lurgan were forced into playing catch up and, as a consequence, Dromore’s accuracy saw them pick up a further 13 shots to Lurgan’s 3 and take their second winning rink by a margin of 28–13.

It was on the inner rinks, Rinks 2 and 3, where the drama would unfold and Lurgan would win the 2 points they needed. On Rink 2 Dick McClune, Alan Briggs, Stephen Poots and skip Alan Roberts trailed behind their Dromore opponents, skipped by T. Haire, for most of the match. At the thirteenth end they held a 16–10 lead. The turning point came in the fourteenth end. Lurgan picked up 4 shots to narrow the gap to 2 shots. Dromore collected 2 shots in the next end but Lurgan held sway in the next three, scoring 8 shots and leaving the match tied at 18 all after the eighteenth end. It was now down to who blinked first and it proved to be the Lurgan four who held their nerve. They scored 6 shots to Dromore’s 1 in the last three ends to win the match 24–19 and secure the first of the match points their team needed.

On Rink 3 Skip Peter McGrail’s rink of Ivor Mitchell, Bobby Boness and Bobby Ruddell were involved in a ding-dong battle with their Dromore opponents skipped by S G Malcolmson. Dromore raced off into a 6 – 0 lead over the first three ends. Lurgan hit back over the next 4 ends and held a 9–6 lead after seven ends. The pendulum swung back in Dromore’s favour and they moved ahead by 12–9 after 10 ends. Lurgan struck the decisive blow in the sixteenth end, scoring 4 shots to establish an 18–15 lead. Having got their noses in front at this late juncture, the Lurgan rink had no intention of letting things slip. By the twentieth end they had edged slightly further ahead by 20 – 16. The penultimate end produced that most unusual of results, a tied end, neither side being able to claim a shot with each having a bowl lying tight against the jack. The Lurgan rink added a further two shots to their total in the last end and, in doing so, not only sealed the match at 22 – 16 but also guaranteed Lurgan’s promotion to Division 1.

Meanwhile Lurgan Juniors were defeated at Dromore by 6 points to 1.