Coleraine had an excellent four shot victory away to Senior League champions Ballymoney last Monday night at Church Street in the Piggot Cup semi-final first leg.
The Lodge Road men had knocked out City of Derry in the quarter final, whilst Ballymoney had seen off holders Cookstown. However, the result was made all the more surprising considering the Coleraine team sheet was decimated due to a raft of players missing through a number of reasons; getting a team out was in doubt right up until the morning of the game.
It was nip and tuck in the early stages of the game as neither side could be separated before the Bannsiders claimed a four shot lead at the halfway stage of the game. The Lodge Road side clicked into gear and waltzed 17 shots clear with a few ends remaining before clinching a superb 77-73 victory over the Co. Antrim outfit.
On rink one, Basil Kennedy’s four had an excellent win against Alistair Steele’s quartet. It was a close encounter in the early stages as the visiting rink held a one shot advantage before a count of five helped Kennedy’s men open up a six shot lead at the halfway stage. Jordan Dallas, Mark Broderick, Philip Stirling and Basil kept the pressure on and moved 10 shots to the good by the 16th end, and they eventually claimed a hard fought 24-16 victory to lay a solid foundation for the rest of the team.
On rink two, Jonny Calvin’s four had a very good victory over Gary Kelly. It was nip and tuck in the early stages of the game as the scores were level before the visitors took a slender one shot advantage by the halfway stage. Matthew Steen, Kris McGrath, Paul O’Neill and Jonny kept fighting hard and were two shots to the good with five ends remaining before maintaining the pressure as they ground out an excellent 18-13 result.
The rink of Lindsay Clarke, Jim Duncan, David Gaile and Victor Dallas slipped to a narrow defeat against Nicky McCaw on rink three. The home rink led by seven shots early on before Dallas’ men turned the tables at the halfway stage, claiming 13 shots over five ends to lead by five shots. The home rink reduced the arrears to three shots with a quarter of the tie remaining as the Coleraine rink let a seven shot advantage slip to lose out 21-23.
Over on rink four, Russell Miller’s men had a tough battle against Brian McAlary’s quartet. Jimmy O’Neill, Stephen Smyth, Mark Mason and Russell were five shots to the good in the early stages of the match before dropping four shots behind at the halfway stage. The Coleraine lads were still four shots in arrears by the 16th end, and they eventually lost out 14-21.
It was a great result for a depleted Coleraine senior team, as they claimed a four shot advantage at a notoriously tough venue in the first leg of the semi-final clash. The second leg is due to be played on Thursday 27th July at Lodge Road in what is sure to be a rip-roaring contest between the two rivals.