Irish Senior Cup final day on Saturday 25th August 2018 is a date and an occasion that will live long in the memory banks of everyone who represented and supported the Larne ‘A’ team as they took on Whitehead at Belmont.
Larne have lifted this trophy on four previous occasions, 1939, ‘40, ‘46 and ‘59 so it was long overdue.
Following a pre-match breakfast in the Curran Court, the Larne boys took to the green in confident mood, but knowing that they needed to deliver on the big stage. Previous victories in earlier rounds against Letterkenny, Old Bleach, Cookstown, Belmont and Coleraine was testament to how well this team had performed throughout their Cup run.
The support from Larne on the day was superb and from the first end to the final bowl of the game, the 16 on the green did not let them down. This was a wire to wire victory as the Larne men dominated for most of the afternoon always holding a 15 - 20 shot lead. However, when Whitehead were to launch a comeback reducing the advantage to just five shots it was now time to step up to the plate and deliver. The team spirit was evident once again as encouragement was given across the green from everyone as the good bowls were delivered with the team rallying to pull away again and close out an excellent 22 shot victory.
On rink 1 the quartet of Chris Snoddy, Mark Petticrew, Darren Witherspoon and Graham McKee stole the show with a scintillating display of bowls against the Whitehead rink skipped by Stephen McKinley. A quick fire 6 - 0 start after two ends soon turned into a 19 - 3 advantage and this kept the team in the ascendancy throughout the afternoon. They finished the afternoon off with an excellent 29 - 10 win. A superb rink performance from lead to skip.
On rink 2 Alan McLean, aided by George Woods, Alan McCord and Michael Murphy got off to an even start against Barry Browne’s four before rattling off four ends on the trot to open a 12 - 6 advantage at the halfway stage. They got pegged back and fell behind 15 - 17 after 17 ends. A strong final four ends resulted in a hard fought, well deserved 20 - 18 victory.
On rink three Dave McRandal’s rink of Gavin Johnston, Leslie King and Jason Kerr came up against the rink skipped by Marty McHugh. It was McHugh that started this game the stronger with some superb bowls early on but the vital factor being that they were only able to register singles until the Larne four got into stride.
McHugh made four no heads in the first half of this game but when the driving started misfiring the Larne boys moved up through the gears and dominated the second half of proceedings lifting three counts of four along the way. Despite losing ten ends on this rink they only allowed their opponents a single shot on each as they powered to a 24-10 win.
On rink four Jayden Kyle, Simon Bell, Paul Robinson and Andy Kyle faced the Whitehead rink skipped by James Caldwell. This game was tight for three quarters of the game as singles and doubles were traded. The Larne four trailed 11-12 after 15 ends but only managed to add one more single over the closing ends as the Whitehead rink rattled up a few scores including a five on the 18th end. The Larne rink lost this game 12-25.
The sixteen on the green along with the reserves Alan Mairs, Brian Houston and Stephen Dalrymple who played their part in earlier rounds have secured the Blue Riband event in Irish Bowls. Larne are the Irish Champions for 2018, what an accolade that is.