Lurgan seniors one step closer

Ronnie McCullough.
Ronnie McCullough.

Lurgan A players’ goal of a return to top-flight play moved one step closer to reality on Saturday with a defeat of Newtownabbey by 85-69.

Six points were collected at Hazelbank against a Newtownabbey side struggling in the relegation zone.

On rink one, skip Peter McGrail, Bobby Ruddell, Bobby Boness and Ivor Mitchell were 8-0 down by six ends but regained the initiative.

By the 11th, it was all-square at nine apiece and, having taken control of the jack, Lurgan took the next six to add 10.

It was 19–9 to Lurgan when Newtownabbey started clawing back thanks to four shots in two ends. Some great positional bowling restricted Newtownabbey to a single shot in the penultimate end and that effectively ended the hosts’ challenge in a 21–14 win.

Ronnie McCullough, Michael Bunting, Jeff McCullough and skip Mansell Montgomery proved even on rink two until eight shots over five ends to hold a 12-5 gap at the 11th.

Lurgan dominated from that stage, often resulting in Newtownabbey having to play to reduce the visitors’ shots tally rather than take the end.

Lurgan cruised home by 23-8 thanks to a run of 11 for the loss of just three.

Dick McClune, Davy Millar, Alan Briggs and skip Stephen Poots were left reeling by battling Newtownabbey’s 14-0 advantage on seven ends.

However, quite often, Lurgan had been laying two or three shots only to see a Newtownabbey bowl spring the jack and turn the head.

Lurgan picked up seven in the next three ends but it was 22–7 to the hosts ahead of a late rally that resulted in the gap reduced to 23-17. A trailed jack in the 20th end turned a four-shot advantage for Lurgan into three for Newtownabbey.

Lurgan picked up a single shot on the last end towards a 26-18 reverse within a spirited performance.

Harry Cosgrove’s rink of Dan Dempsey, Reece Millar and John Gilliland moved 9-1 up by six ends before Newtownabbey battled back into contention to close the gap to four.

A rally led by skip Cosgrove regrouped with 10 shots for Lurgan compared to the home side’s two helping seal a 23-11 win.

Lurgan will face another side pushing for promotion - Dromore - on Saturday at home aiming to boost the narrow points advantage currently on the board. It will mark Lurgan’s final fixture of the league campaign.

“Over the past few weeks, Lurgan’s team ethos that has been vital in picking up crucial points,” said a Lurgan spokesman. “There are several permutations that mean it is not quite a winner-takes-all scenario but, put simply, Lurgan’s destiny is in their own hands.

“If they hold their nerve and retain the tenacity and composure of the last few weeks to craft any sort of win then a return to the top flight of bowls is guaranteed.”