LURGAN are still looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone after their latest defeat.
The senior team travelled to Balmoral on Saturday for this first division match on a green that was not playable on Friday night and which still had several puddles on it. After some hard work by the Balmoral players and several discussions regarding the green it was decided the green was playable.
Lurgan returned with a solitary point, a result that pushes Balmoral to the forefront of the league while leaving Lurgan near the relegation zone.
Lurgan took several ends to settle allowing Balmoral to build up a 25 shot lead in the first five ends. Once they had settled Lurgan fought hard although Balmoral increased their lead to 31 at the halfway stage.
Lurgan proved they were not going down without a fight as they reduced Balmoral’s lead to 15 shots at the three quarter distance. They maintained this advantage until the last end where Balmoral picked up nine shots across the green on the last end to win by 24. Lurgan can take heart from the fact that once they became accustomed to the green they matched their opponents.
On rink one Bobby Boness, Pete McGrail, Seamus Skelton and skip David Beattie allowed Balmoral, under skip C. Craig, to build up a 13-2 lead after five ends. The Lurgan four never gave up and kept the gap to 18-6 after 10 ends and they clawed back part of this deficit to trail 20-13 after the 15th end.
Balmoral skip Craig, leading by example, inspired his colleagues to stop Lurgan’s fightback and picked up four two shot ends to over the final ends to win 29-14.
On rink two Gareth Bunting, Alan Briggs, Eddie McCourt and skip Alan Roberts struggled with the green early on and Balmoral, under skip D. Donaghy, punished this sluggish start to pick ten shots up in the opening three ends without reply.
Lurgan showed grit and determination to claw back this early lead and had reduced Balmoral’s lead to three shots at the halfway stage. With their tails up they went on to take the lead on the 13th end, 16-15, meaning they had outscored their opponents 16-5 in ten ends. The Lurgan four never fell behind again and only for a torrential downpour on the last end may have won more convincingly. winning 25-23 to gain Lurgan’s only point.
On rink three Ivor Mitchell, Bobby Ruddell, Kris Matchett and skip Harry Cosgrove didn’t score in the first five ends, trailing 10-0,
Lurgan finally got on the board and Balmoral, under skip M. Reid, saw their lead reduced to eight by the halfway stage. Reid was put under some pressure and only some excellent bowling kept Balmoral ahead on this rink as Lurgan chipped away to trail by five at the three quarter distance. With Reid in supreme form it proved to be a bridge too far for Lurgan as they ended up beaten 23-15.
On rink four Stephen Poots, Reece Millar, Billy Martin and skip Mansell Montgomery were the only rink to settle early on which was a credit to the rink as they led 4-2 after five ends.
Balmoral, under skip A. Stewart, continued to exert pressure and built up a seven shot lead, 12-5, at the halfway stage.
The Lurgan four refused to give in and reduced Balmoral’s lead to three shots at the three quarter distance. This lead was down to a solitary shot going into the last end.
With the head built, although Balmoral held shot, Lurgan had a chance to win this rink. In a cruel twist of fate the rain came on and as the green was so saturated it made Montgomery’s job almost impossible.
The green was at saturation point which completely changed the weight of the green and Lurgan’s chance of claiming a second point were gone.