MATCH REPORTS 2017



2017 Match Reports
Compiled and written by Match Secretary David McCloy

Week commencing  1st July
Ards A went into their home match against Downpatrick knowing that a win of any sort would take them to the top of Division 2 for the first time this season. Even a defeat in which they picked up a couple of bonus points would still keep the pressure on the other six teams that are still in with a chance of promotion.

The first five ends were a bit of a mixed bagful as far as Ards A were concerned as a stunning start by G McKee's rink was being undone by A Adair's rink which was already struggling to stay in touch with the Downpatrick rink skipped by M Smyth. McKee's rink dropped 3 shots on the first end but picked up 10 shots over the next four ends to take a comfortable lead into the second quarter of the match. As quick as McKee's rink were picking up shots Adair's rink was dropping them even quicker. Over the space of four ends they dropped 12 shots including 6 shots on the 3rd end. They needed to stop the rot very soon if they were to have any chance of eking out a victory. By the halfway stage the overall score was 42 shots to 37 in favour of Downpatrick. Adair was still trailing by 11 shots and McKee's lead had been cut to 1 shot as D McCann's rink hit back with scores of 1,5, 1 and 1 between the 7th and 10th ends. Robson's rink had turned a 1 shot deficit into a 6 shots lead thanks mainly to the 5 shots that they scored on the 9th end. Over the next five ends Downpatrick extended their lead to 9 shots but more worryingly from an Ards A perspective was that they were now trailing on three rinks. McKee's rink had not scored for eight ends before picking up a single on the 15th end to trail by 13 shots to 17. With Adair's rink hitting a purple patch between the 10th and 14th ends they were now just two shots adrift of D McCann's rink which was beginning to wilt under the constant pressure.  N Dorman and K McMullan were locked in a titanic struggle on rink 5 and with never more that 3 shots separating the rinks it was McMullan's rink that held the advantage with just six ends left to play. Although down on three rinks and all square on the other Ards A still had it all to play for. Downpatrick went on to win the match by 10 shots and claim all 7 points on offer. The deciding factor in the match was the stronger finish by Downpatrick as over the course of the last three ends they outscored Ards A by 13 shots to 3. Adair almost completed a fairytale comeback but a dropped shot on the last end left the score 21 shots to 20 in favour of Downpatrick. After their promising start McKee's rink were restricted to four singles over the next fifteen ends and were left deflated as McCann's rink emerged worthy winners by 21 shots to 16. The rinks skipped by N Dorman and C Robson both finished 2 shots adrift. A disappointing but not calamitous result for Ards A as results elsewhere leaves then just 3.5 points behind new leaders Hilden A.

Ards B travelled to play Cliftonville B having secured their place in the NIPGBL Junior Cup final by overwhelming a strongly fancied P.S.N.I. team. With Cliftonville B sitting at the bottom of the table 54 points behind Ards B the result of this match appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

There was never many shots in this match at any stage and by fifteen ends Cliftonville B held a slender 2 shot advantage. They were ahead on three rinks and were on the edge of causing the biggest upset of the season so far. With the exception of A Wright's rink none of the Ards rinks were troubling the scoreboard on a regular basis but a 2 shot deficit was insignificant given that all rinks had still to play three ends. Ards B collapsed on the run in and were outscored by 21 shots to 2. A Wright's rink was the only one to score during this period and their win by 15 shots to 13 gave Ards B their only point on the day. B Martin's rink in particular will be disappointed given that they were leading by 7 shots to 0 after just four ends.  Another 4 shots on the 7th end put them 11 shots to 4 ahead on the scoreboard but this was the last time they scored as T Killen's rink pulled level after thirteen ends and went on to win by 19 shots to 11. Cliftonville B deserved their victory by 67 shots to 46 and while disappointing for Ards B they are still expected to claim one of the promotion slots.

Ards Midweek Team had the opportunity to consolidate their position in the top three when they travelled to face a Ballymena team that is flirting with relegation.

In a low scoring start to the game Ards did just enough to take the lead by 13 shots to 12 after five ends. L Wilkinson was all square in his match against A Stewart and in the remainder of the games the rinks were separated by a single shot.  Over the next five ends Ards increased their lead to 8 shots with only L Wilkinson's rink holding what could be described as a comfortable lead. McKee and Martin were both trailing but still had plenty of time to turn their matches around. Ards laid the foundations for victory by dominating the 11th to 15th ends as all rinks were now ahead and should be able to defend the 18 shot lead over the remaining three ends of play. Not only was this the period during which the overall game was won but it was also where the rinks of Martin and McKee turned their fortunes around. By scoring 9 shots and 8 shots respectively they took leads which were never relinquished. With only 14 shots being shared over the run in Ards maintained their lead on all four rinks to win by 64 shots to 48. Ards now sit one point behind joint leaders Mossley and Salisbury with six matches left to play.

Upcoming fixtures
NIPGBL Division 2: Belmont B v Ards A
NIPGBL Division 5: Ards B v Albert Foundry
NIPGBL Midweek League:  Salisbury v Ards.

The first five ends were a bit of a mixed bagful as far as Ards A were concerned as a stunning start by G McKee's rink was being undone by A Adair's rink which was already struggling to stay in touch with the Downpatrick rink skipped by M Smyth. McKee's rink dropped 3 shots on the first end but picked up 10 shots over the next four ends to take a comfortable lead into the second quarter of the match. As quick as McKee's rink were picking up shots Adair's rink was dropping them even quicker. Over the space of four ends they dropped 12 shots including 6 shots on the 3rd end. They needed to stop the rot very soon if they were to have any chance of eking out a victory. By the halfway stage the overall score was 42 shots to 37 in favour of Downpatrick. Adair was still trailing by 11 shots and McKee's lead had been cut to 1 shot as D McCann's rink hit back with scores of 1,5, 1 and 1 between the 7th and 10th ends. Robson's rink had turned a 1 shot deficit into a 6 shots lead thanks mainly to the 5 shots that they scored on the 9th end. Over the next five ends Downpatrick extended their lead to 9 shots but more worryingly from an Ards A perspective was that they were now trailing on three rinks. McKee's rink had not scored for eight ends before picking up a single on the 15th end to trail by 13 shots to 17. With Adair's rink hitting a purple patch between the 10th and 14th ends they were now just two shots adrift of D McCann's rink which was beginning to wilt under the constant pressure.  N Dorman and K McMullan were locked in a titanic struggle on rink 5 and with never more that 3 shots separating the rinks it was McMullan's rink that held the advantage with just six ends left to play. Although down on three rinks and all square on the other Ards A still had it all to play for. Downpatrick went on to win the match by 10 shots and claim all 7 points on offer. The deciding factor in the match was the stronger finish by Downpatrick as over the course of the last three ends they outscored Ards A by 13 shots to 3. Adair almost completed a fairytale comeback but a dropped shot on the last end left the score 21 shots to 20 in favour of Downpatrick. After their promising start McKee's rink were restricted to four singles over the next fifteen ends and were left deflated as McCann's rink emerged worthy winners by 21 shots to 16. The rinks skipped by N Dorman and C Robson both finished 2 shots adrift. A disappointing but not calamitous result for Ards A as results elsewhere leaves then just 3.5 points behind new leaders Hilden A.

Ards B travelled to play Cliftonville B having secured their place in the NIPGBL Junior Cup final by overwhelming a strongly fancied P.S.N.I. team. With Cliftonville B sitting at the bottom of the table 54 points behind Ards B the result of this match appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

There was never many shots in this match at any stage and by fifteen ends Cliftonville B held a slender 2 shot advantage. They were ahead on three rinks and were on the edge of causing the biggest upset of the season so far. With the exception of A Wright's rink none of the Ards rinks were troubling the scoreboard on a regular basis but a 2 shot deficit was insignificant given that all rinks had still to play three ends. Ards B collapsed on the run in and were outscored by 21 shots to 2. A Wright's rink was the only one to score during this period and their win by 15 shots to 13 gave Ards B their only point on the day. B Martin's rink in particular will be disappointed given that they were leading by 7 shots to 0 after just four ends.  Another 4 shots on the 7th end put them 11 shots to 4 ahead on the scoreboard but this was the last time they scored as T Killen's rink pulled level after thirteen ends and went on to win by 19 shots to 11. Cliftonville B deserved their victory by 67 shots to 46 and while disappointing for Ards B they are still expected to claim one of the promotion slots.

Ards Midweek Team had the opportunity to consolidate their position in the top three when they travelled to face a Ballymena team that is flirting with relegation.

In a low scoring start to the game Ards did just enough to take the lead by 13 shots to 12 after five ends. L Wilkinson was all square in his match against A Stewart and in the remainder of the games the rinks were separated by a single shot.  Over the next five ends Ards increased their lead to 8 shots with only L Wilkinson's rink holding what could be described as a comfortable lead. McKee and Martin were both trailing but still had plenty of time to turn their matches around. Ards laid the foundations for victory by dominating the 11th to 15th ends as all rinks were now ahead and should be able to defend the 18 shot lead over the remaining three ends of play. Not only was this the period during which the overall game was won but it was also where the rinks of Martin and McKee turned their fortunes around. By scoring 9 shots and 8 shots respectively they took leads which were never relinquished. With only 14 shots being shared over the run in Ards maintained their lead on all four rinks to win by 64 shots to 48. Ards now sit one point behind joint leaders Mossley and Salisbury with six matches left to play.

Upcoming fixtures
NIPGBL Division 2: Belmont B v Ards A
NIPGBL Division 5: Ards B v Albert Foundry
NIPGBL Midweek League:  Salisbury v Ards

Week commencing Saturday 17th June

Three weeks ago Ards A were languishing in 8th place in NIPGBL Division 2 and well off the pace in the race to secure promotion to Division 1. An unbeaten run of four matches, together with results elsewhere going in their favour, now sees Ards A sitting in second place just 1 point behind Ulster Transport. Division 2 still remains the most unpredictable of all five divisions so there is likely to be more twists and turns during the second half of the season.

Cliftonville A are no longer the force in senior bowls that they once were but are still more than capable of grinding out results especially on their home green. It soon became apparent that Ards A would have to fight for every shot and by the ten end mark they had done well to eke out a 5 shot lead. Two rinks were all square with the rinks skipped by N Dorman and G McKee leading by 3 shots and 2 shots respectively. McKee had got off to a flying start when he picked up 6 shots on the 1st end and then 3 shots on the 2nd but R Gray's Cliftonville A rink had whittled away at the lead and were now just 2 shots adrift. By the 13th end Ards A had opened up a sizeable gap but disaster struck on the 14th end when the rinks skipped by Adair and Dorman both dropped counts of 5 shots to allow Cliftonville A right back into the game. Despite having three rinks up and a 7 shots advantage at fifteen ends Ards A knew that this match could go either way such was the narrow gap between all rinks. If Ards A go on to gain promotion they may look back at the last quarter of this match as the defining moment of their season. During this period they outscored Cliftonville A by 34 shots 11 and in the process captured a full house of 7 points. Leading the charge was N Dorman's rink which between the 16th and 21st ends recorded scores of 2,0,3,3,1 and 2 to win by 26 shots to 14. Five shots on the 17th end for B Thompson's rink killed off the challenge of Cliftonville's K O'Neill with Thompson going on to win by 24 shots to 17. McKee's rink weighed in with a 7 shots victory and with Adair picking up counts of 4 shots on the 20th and 21st ends to win by 4 it made it a clean sweep for Ards A.

With just one defeat in ten league matches Ards B now sit proudly at the top of NIPGBL Division 5. Should Albert Foundry pick up maximum points from their two matches in hand they could overtake Ards B but at this stage of the season it is much better to have the points in the bag.

The first half of the match against Hilden B was close overall with the visiting team just ahead by 3 shots. Ards B were ahead on three rinks but on D Savage's rink the writing was already on the wall as they trailed by 5 shots to 18. On the 8th end B Martin's rink had the opportunity to pick up a full house of 8 shots but had to settle for 7 as Martin's last bowl agonisingly found a gap to deprive them of the seldom achieved full house. The third quarter of the match saw little change either at overall or individual rink level as Ards B cut the deficit to 2 shots. If Savage's rink could manage to pick up a few shots over the last three ends there was a very good chance that the remaining three rinks could cover his deficit and potentially Ards B could pick up six points. Ards B had the better of the run in and a 4 shot win was good enough for 6 points.

In Midweek League Division 1 Salisbury have yet to taste defeat and now lead 3rd place Ards by 6 points. It is important for Ards not only to win matches but to pick up as many bonus points as possible if they are to retain the title they won last year.

Belmont A would provide a stern test for Ards as they are a much stronger team that their lowly league position would indicate. By ten ends Ards were ahead on all rinks but this translated to just a 13 shots lead as all matches were too close to call. Over the next five ends the potential result on two of the rinks was starting to become more apparent. R Gibson's rink looked like it had done enough to ensure victory as it had restricted Belmont's T Mercer to just five scoring ends and now led by 14 shots to 6. B Martin's rink looked like it was heading towards defeat but were extremely unlucky to be in this position. On the 14th end Martin's rink were lying 6 shots when the Belmont skip D Hamilton drove the head. A perfect strike scattered the head and when the bowls settled Belmont A were lying 6 shots. The swing of 12 shots put Hamilton's rink very much in the driving seat. On the remaining rinks Wilkinson and Robson both led by 4 shots but this was not sufficient a cushion to guarantee victory as there were still three ends left to play. Belmont had the best of the closing stages but Ards managed to hang on to win by 3 shots and secure 5.5 points. The Gibson and Martin results ended up as predicted. Wilkinson won by 3 shots but Robson failed to score over the last three ends as P O'Neill's rink fought back for a share of the spoils. Belmont A did not play like a team that was twelve places and 26.5 points behind Ards.

Upcoming fixtures
NIPBGL Division 2: Ards A v Downpatrick
NIPGBL Division 5: Cliftonville B v Ards B
NIPGBL Midweek League Division 1: Ballymena v Ards

Division 2 of the Northern Ireland Private Greens Bowling League is traditionally the most competitive of the five Divisions and this year is proving to be no exception. All the teams in this Division are more than capable of beating each other and after only three matches there is no team with an unbeaten record. Just 4.5 points separates the top seven teams.

6th May
Ards A Team had home advantage when they met Belmont B in their third match of the season. The last time these two teams met was in the final of the Irish Intermediate Cup when Ards won on all four rinks to record a comfortable victory by over 50 shots.
 It soon became apparent that this was going to be a much closer contest. At the 5 end mark Ards were leading by 16 shots to 15 with Glen Brown to the fore as he played some great saving bowls to keep his rink in contention in their match against B Busby. After 10 ends there was still only 1 shot in it with Belmont B now leading by 34 shots to 33. By the 15th end this advantage had increased to two shots but worryingly for Ards the rink skipped by B Thompson was trailing D Bintley by 11 shots and even though there was still 6 ends to play this looked very much like a lost cause from a Ards perspective. This proved to be the case as B Thompson's rink lost by 14 shots and although the other three Ards rinks all won they could not amass enough shots to overcome this deficit. Belmont B won by 72 shots to 66 giving them 4 points with Ards picking up 3 points for their winning rinks.

Meanwhile in Division 5 Ards B Team had started the season with two wins and thus travelled to Albert Foundry quietly confident that a win on the road was a real possibility. At the halfway stage of the match a win still seemed possible as Ards B were leading by 35 shots to 33 with three rinks ahead. Over the next five ends the match swung very much in favour of Albert Foundry as they outscored Ards B by 32 shots to 9 to lead 65 - 44. J Crothers was now trailing by 17 shots but the rinks skipped by B Martin and R Fulton looked like they had a good chance of wins which would be good enough for 2 points. B Martin managed to pick up 3 shots on the last end to give him a share of the spoils and 0.5 points. Things took a dramatic turn in the match between R Fulton and N Spence. At one point the Ards rink lead by 14 shots to 5 but their failure to score for five consecutive ends, between the 10th and 14th ends, allowed N Spence's Albert Foundry rink right back into the match. Despite this lapse R Fulton's rink was 2 shots ahead with 2 ends still to play. These proved to be disastrous for Ards as they dropped 5 shots on each end to leave a final score of 24 shots to 16 in favour of Albert Foundry. The remaining Ards rinks skipped by J Crothers and T Thompson lost by 18 shots and 10 shots respectively. A match that at one point had promised so much for Ards ended up being a comprehensive victory for Albert Foundry.

In Midweek bowls the two outstanding teams in 2016 were Ards and Mossley. Ards won Midweek Division 1 with Mossley finishing as runners-up. 
Mossley won the Midweek Cup with Ards being the beaten finalists. No wonder there was so much interest in the first week of the Midweek League when the fixture list threw up Ards v Mossley.

There was nothing to separate the teams after 5 ends (20-20) and by 10 ends Ards had done just enough to establish a 1 shot lead. Ards cause was greatly helped when the rink of V Wasson, J Bell, G Hollinger and R Gibson picked up a maximum of 8 shots on the 3rd end of their match against D Thompson. This is a feat that is very seldom accomplished in competitive bowls. By 15 ends Ards still held a single shot advantage with two rinks holding what looked like match winning leads. L Wilkinson's rink was still in contention as they were trailing S Strange by just 4 shots. C Robson's rink was trailing by 8 shots but as they had only been troubling the scoreboard on an infrequent basis it seemed unlikely that they would overcome such a deficit with just 3 ends left to play. 
These ends proved to be very low scoring on all rinks with Mossley just doing enough to edge out Ards by 3 shots (66-63). Mossley picked up 5 points with Ards securing 2 points for the wins by the rinks skipped by R Gibson and B Martin.

A playing record of one win and three consecutive defeats was not what Ards A team would have expected at this early stage of the season. 
While the latest defeat was by just 2 shots the dropped points means that it is imperative that Ards A get back to winning ways very quickly if they are to stay in touch with league leaders NICS who they are now trailing by 9.5 points.

Sat 13th May
Ards A went into their match against NICS without five regular players so there was new combinations of players on all four rinks. This didn't appear to have any impact on Ards as they held a 2 shot advantage at the five end mark and were still ahead by 40 shots to 39 after ten ends. The main reason that Ards were still very much in contention was due to the rink of A Robson, G Davis, R Dunbar and G McKee being ahead by 14 shots to 1. Indeed it was the 10th end before the NICS rink skipped by I Leonard managed on get on the scoreboard. P Thompson's rink was leading by 2 shots but the rinks skipped by N Dorman and G Brown were both trailing by 7 shots. At fifteen ends Ards were now trailing by 3 shots but this did not tell the full story of what was happening across the green. G McKee had extended his lead to 22 shots but the other three rinks were all trailing with the prospect of a win for the rinks skipped by N Dorman and G Brown now all but disappeared as they trailed by 11 shots and 10 shots respectively. P Thompson's rink was still very much in the match as they were only 4 shots adrift of the NICS rink skipped by S Hegan. The last six ends were always close on the scoreboard but despite the best efforts of G McKee's rink Ards could not do enough to claim the overall victory. G McKee's rink out bowled their opponents to finish comprehensive winners by 32 shots to 6 having restricted the NICS rink to three scoring ends. Despite picking up 6 shots on the 20th end P Thompson's rink finished 2 shots adrift as their inability to score on more than two ends from the 11th end onwards came back to haunt them. At the fifteen end mark the other two rinks looked like they were heading for comprehensive defeats and this turned out to be the case as they lost by a combined total of 26 shots. The final score of NICS 83 Ards A 81 gave NICS 6 points with Ards A picking up only 1 point for their efforts.

Ards B travelled to Larne in an Irish Junior Cup match very much as underdogs and knew that a top class performance was required if they were to progress to the 2nd round. Ards B were trailing by 1 shot after five ends but by the 10th end the deficit had stretched to 13 shots. Worryingly for Ards the rinks skipped by T Thompson and J Crothers were struggling to stay in touch. T Thompson's rink scored 3 shots on the 1st end but this was the only time they troubled the scoreboard as L King's rink won the next nine ends to take a commanding lead by 16 shots to 3. Over the next five ends Larne B increased their lead to 24 shots and with Ards B trailing heavily on three rinks the match was as good as over. The only ray of light for Ards was the performance of the rink comprising J Poots, W Smyth, A Wright and G Rodgers. They took the lead on the 1st end and never relinquished it and were now leading by 18 shots to 3 at the fifteen end mark. The last six ends were very much a dead rubber with Larne B claiming an easy victory by 95 shots to 59. G Rodger's rink was the only winning rink for Ards with T Thompson, J Crothers and C Ralph losing by 30 shots, 8 shots and 13 shots respectively.

The Midweek League Team travelled to Ballywalter and like most local derbies between these two teams it was hard fought with only a few shots separating them after eighteen ends. Ballywalter had the better of the opening exchanges and after five ends were leading by 19 shots to 12. Most of the games were relatively close with the exception being that between S Hedley of Ballywalter and B Martin of Ards. Hedley had scored 5 shots on the 3rd end and by restricting Martin to a single on the 1st end now lead by 9 shots to 1. The next five ends saw the game swing in Ards favour as they were ahead by 36 shots to 31. The rinks skipped by C Robson and L Wilkinson both held comfortable leads and with B Martin beginning to eat into the deficit things were looking good for Ards. By fifteen ends Ards had increased their advantage to 14 shots and a win and at least 5 points seemed to be in the bag. This turned out to be the final position as Ards got their 5 points but were made to sweat as Ballywalter outscored them over the last three ends by 18 shots to 8 leaving Ards winners by just 4 shots. C Robson and L Wilkinson skipped the winning rinks for Ards with B Martin making a great comeback to finish just 1 shot adrift of S Hedley. R Gibson's rink struggled for most of the game and having dropped four counts of 3 shots and one of 4 shots finished well adrift of the Ballywalter rink skipped by C Clarke.


The unpredictable nature of NIPGBL Division 2 continues as the results of the latest series of matches sees Ulster Transport take the lead for the first time this year with Ards moving up to 7th place just six points adrift. With no team able to put together a winning run it is likely that there will be many twists and turns before a winner emerges in early September.

20th May
Ards A faced Willowfield A at home knowing that a victory was essential if they were to remain in touch with the leading teams. At five ends it looked good for Ards as they had established a 17 shot advantage with C Robson's rink doing most of the damage. Robson's rink had won all five ends to lead C Childs's rink by 12 shots to 0. By ten ends Ards seemed very much in control as their advantage had now increased to 20 shots and they were ahead on three rinks. Over the next five ends Ards were left shell shocked  as Willowfield outscored them by 25 shots to 3 to take the lead by 51 shots to 49. This exceptional comeback put a totally different perspective on the match with Ards now ahead on only one rink. With two rinks all square and N Dorman's rink trailing by 6 shots it was essential that Ards started to get shots on the board otherwise they were staring at a fourth straight defeat in a row. Sure enough the fight back came with all rinks starting to pick up shots . It was lead by  A Adair's rink which won five ends in a row, including picking up 5 shots on the 19th end, to record a comprehensive 10 shot win over J Miller. B Thompson's rink went into the last end all square against J Moore but with only one bowl left to play Thompson was staring at a defeat as Willowfield were lying 2 shots. An inch perfect trail of the jack gave Thompson the shot he needed to record a win by 19 shots to 18. Having lead by 14 shots to 0 at one point C Robson's rink seemed a banker to pick up a point and while it did so they were made to sweat in the run in as C Child's rink fought back to finish only 2 shots adrift. N Dornan's rink never looked like winning their match against G Childs but the 6 shots they picked up over the last two ends proved crucial in securing the overall victory for Ards . A 78 shots to 70 win gave Ards 6 points and keeps them in the mix for promotion.

Even at this early stage of the season it seems that most teams in NIPGBL Division 5 are fighting for runners-up spot as Albert Foundry remain unbeaten and lead the table well ahead of the chasing pack.  Wins on the road are essential in this Division so it was a relieved Ards B who travelled to Forth River and came home with the majority of the points.

Over the first five ends Ards B established a 7 shot lead with three rinks ahead and that of T Thompson just 2 shots in arrears. Fresh from their impressive performance against Larne in the Irish Junior Cup the rink of J Poots, W Smyth, A Wright and G Rodgers was once again to the fore as they had eased into a 6 shot lead. Neither team was able to pull away for more than a few ends and by the time the fifteenth end had been completed Ards still held a 7 shot lead. At this point J Crothers's rink looked likely winners as they lead J Gardiner's rink by 10 shots with T Thompson's rink looking like they had too much to do as they were now trailing by an identical number.  The rinks skipped by G Rodgers and B Martin held slender leads but with three ends still to play were too close to call. G Rodgers duly held on to record a 18 shots to 13 victory but B Martin dropped 4 shots over the last two ends to lose by 1 shot to G McCullough. On the two remaining rinks a victory by 12 shots for J Crothers cancelled out the 11 shots to 23 loss suffered by T Thompson. A victory by 65 shots to 61 was good enough to give Ards 5 points and second place in the table.

The Midweek Team  hosted Ulster Transport and they made home advantage count by racing into a 32 shots to 13 lead after just five ends. All rinks were ahead with both G McKee and B Martin having opened up a 8 shot gap against their respective opponents. The writing was on the wall for Ulster Transport as early as the 10th end for by this stage Ards had extended their advantage to 34 shots. Three rinks already seemed certain winners with only that skipped by G McKee being involved in anything approaching a close contest. The position remained unchanged at fifteen ends with G McKee now ahead by just 1 shot. The last three ends saw significant swings in the rinks skipped by G McKee and R Gibson. McKee had been unable to shake off N Dans for fifteen ends but four shots on the sixteenth end followed by a single and a double left the scoreboard 21 shots to 13 in his favour. The final score might indicate a comfortable victory but it was anything but. Meanwhile Gibson who had held a comfortable lead for most of the game dropped 2 shots on the sixteenth end followed by 4 on the seventeenth to go into the last end all square on 15 shots. He picked up the single he needed for victory to secure another point for Ards. L Wilkinson and B Martin were never really troubled in their matches and recorded wins by 17 shots and 8 shots respectively. A 79 shots to 45 gave Ards a full house of 7 points.




In the PGL Championships 
Singles G McKee played P Campbell of Belmont. For the first nine ends there was little in it with Campbell just doing enough to move ahead by 7 shots to 5. McKee then hit a devastating patch of form over the next four ends to record scores of 3,4,2 and 1 to take a commanding lead by 15 shots to 7. Campbell managed to claw back 3 shots but this was as close as he got as Gareth McKee picked up scores of 3,2 and 1 to run out a convincing winner.


In the PGL Championships Four
The Ards rink of G Mckee, G Brown, C Robson and B Thompson played the Belmont rink skipped by P Campbell. Thompson's rink got off to a great start as a single on the 1st end was followed by  4 shots on the 3rd and 5 shots on the 4th to leave the scoreboard showing 10 to 2 in his favour. However, by the 15th end this advantage had disappeared as the match was now all square at 15 shots each. The Ards rink closed the match out by winning the last six ends to record a victory 24 shots to 15.

3rd JUNE 
An Irish Intermediate Cup tie against CI-Knock gave Ards A the chance to put their League woes behind then as they embarked on the defence of the trophy which they won last year. Having eliminated CI-Knock at the same stage of the competition last year Ards A went into the match as slight favourites despite their patchy League form over the first quarter of the season.

The opening five ends were very tight across the green until A Adairs's rink dropped 6 shots on the 5th end to trail D Black by 3 shots to 11. Although CI-Knock had only one rink ahead on the scoreboard it was still good enough to give them a 3 shot lead. The second quarter of the match saw A Adair's rink continue to drop shots and at one point they were trailing by 3 shots to 19. By the 10th end they had managed to claw back to 8 shots to 19 but with the other matches being so close it looked like the overall result could hinge on how this rink performed over the remaining ends.  G Brown's rink was all square with the rinks skipped by N Dorman and B Thompson ahead by 3 shots and 1 shot respectively.  The third quarter saw Ards take command of the match for the first time as the rinks skipped by Thompson and Dorman had opened up commanding leads and looked capable of covering any deficit on the other two rinks. For Thompson and Dorman the 12th to 15th ends proved very productive as between then they picked up 18 shots over these ends. Adair was continuing his comeback and was now within 6 shots of D Black while Brown and McCluskey were swapping singles to leave the match delicately poised at 11 shots to 9 in favour of McCluskey. A very strong performance over the last six ends, especially from Thompson's rink, saw Ards A emerge victorious by 85 shots to 67. Thompson's rink dominated the match from ten ends onwards and thoroughly deserved their victory by 25 shots to 7. At sixteen ends Dorman's rink seemed well in control of the match but 7 dropped shots over the next three ends left them just 4 shots ahead with two ends left to play. They managed to stem the CI-Knock comeback and scored 3 shots to finish winners by 22 shots to 15. Having at one point been 16 shots adrift A Adair's rink staged an incredible comeback to be all square with two ends left to play. Three dropped shots on the 20th end proved decisive as Adair was restricted to 1 shot on the last end to lose by 24 shots to 26. In a match where singles were scored on fourteen of the twenty one ends the two counts of 4 shots dropped by G Brown's rink were instrumental in their eventual defeat by 19 shots to 14. Ards A now face Musgrave in the next round of the Irish Intermediate Cup.

Ards Midweek team went into their match against CI-Knock on the back of six straight victories and with home advantage were expected to extend this to seven. Both teams fielded a significant number of "Saturday" players, twenty three in total, so it would be difficult to judge if the result reflected the true strength of either team.

CI-Knock made the more impressive start and , with three rinks ahead, had moved into a 5 shot lead after five ends. R Gibson's rink was the only Ards rink ahead despite dropping 5 shots on the 2nd end . They led D Black's rink by 8 shots to 5. Over the next five ends Ards outscored CI-Knock by 27 shots to 8 and were now leading by 14 shots. Gibson's rink was leading the charge and having restricted Black's rink to a single on the 6th end looked comfortable at 16 shots to 6. A count of 7 shots on the 6th end put C Robson's rink in the driving seat in their match against C Campbell but by the 10th end Robson's lead had been reduced to 4 shots. The other two matches were all square at 7 shots each.  By the 15th end Ards were ahead on three rinks and while none held match winning leads a clean sweep and seven points still seemed possible as L Wilkinson's rink was trailing by just 3 shots with three ends left to play.
R Gibson's rink finished strongly by scoring 7 shots on the last two ends to give them victory by 25 shots to 13. Victory was also secured by Robson's rink which emerged winners by 20 shots to 13. On the other two rinks it was a case of what might have been. Wilkinson, despite never being ahead during the whole match, still had a shot at glory as he went into the last end trailing by just two shots.  It was not to be as he dropped 4 shots to lose by 12 shots to 18. 
At sixteen ends B Martin's rink held a 3 shot advantage but  C Costley's rink picked up2 shots on the next end to leave the match balanced on a knife edge. The 18th end will be one that Martin's rink wants to forget as they dropped 6 shots to end up on the wrong side of a 17-12 score line. 
Across the green Ards dropped 12 shots on the last end but still managed to win by 69 shots to 61 and collect five points which keeps them in second place four points behind Salisbury.

Upcoming fixtures.
League Division 2: Ards A v Salisbury
League Division 5: Forth River B v Ards B

Midweek League: N.I.C.S. v Ards

What a difference a week makes! A week ago Ards A were in 8th position in Division 2 and trailing the leaders Ulster Transport by a massive 13 points. Two home victories which yielded a full house of 14 points propelled Ards A up to fourth place and cut Ulster Transport's lead to 7 points. There are now four clubs within 4 points of each other sitting just behind Ulster Transport all vying to nail down the second promotion slot to Division 1.

The match against Ballymena B was expected to be a tough encounter as they had beaten Ards A twice last year and the first five ends suggested that this would indeed be the case. Whilst Ards A led by 2 shots it was not all plain sailing as N Dorman's rink got off to a disastrous start by dropping 11 shots, including 6 on the 1st end, before they managed to get on the scoreboard with a single on the fourth end. The second quarter of the match was where Ards A laid the foundation for ultimate victory as they completely overwhelmed Ballymena B to lead by 56 shots to 26. Dorman had pulled back to within 1 shot of G Graham and with the rinks of A Adair, B Thompson and G Brown leading by 8 shots, 11 shots and 12 shots respectively it would take an immediate response from Ballymena if Ards A were to be deprived of a comprehensive victory.  The Ballymena fight back never materialised and by fifteen ends the match was as good as over with Ards A ahead on all rinks and leading by 77 shots to 32. Ards A duly recorded the win and picked up 7 points in the process.

Sailsbury arrived at Ards with the best record in Division 2 having lost only once all season.  The match was all square after five ends although Ards A were ahead on only one rink. For the second match running the second quarter was where Ards A applied the pressure and on this occasion it was good enough to take them into the lead by 43 shots to 25. Three rinks were now ahead and B Thompson's rink had won three ends in a row to trail G Eaton by just 2 shots. A Adair's rink won six ends in a row, from the 5th to the 9th, to open up what already looked like a winning gap. The leads on the other two winning rinks were not sufficient at this stage as to be assured of victory. By the fifteenth end victory was within Ards grasp as they dominated the 3rd quarter to take what looked like an unassailable lead of 33 shots. With A Adair leading by 13 shots, N Dorman by 9 shots and G Brown by 10 shots victory was virtually assured on these three rinks. B Thompson was now leading by 1 shot so a win and a full haul of points was potentially on the cards. Over the last six ends Ards A extended their advantage to 46 shots and reaped the reward by claiming all 7 points.

Two weeks ago Albert Foundry had what looked like an unassailable lead in Division 5 with the remaining teams fighting for the runner-up spot. Now they are under pressure from Ards B who put together a couple of results which leaves then trailing by just 3.5 points. The 6.5 points against Malone together with the 5 points against Forth River B makes promotion a realistic target for Ards B.

The match against Malone was much closer that the score line suggests. The margin of victory was 11 shots and on the three winning rinks the difference in scores was never more that 6 shots at any point in the game.  It was the drawn match between R Fulton and D Nelson that provided the most interest for spectators. The Ards B rink dropped a single on the 1st end but scores of 1,1,4,2 and 2 on the next five ends gave Fulton's rink a comfortable 10 shots to 1 lead. Over the next ten ends this rink only managed to pick up a solitary single as D Nelson's rink took the lead by 12 shots to 11 after fifteen ends. Worse was to follow as the Ards B rink dropped a count of 5 shots on the 16th end to trail by 6 shots in a match that they once looked like winning comfortably. Four shots on the 17th end gave them a chance of getting something out of the match and it was a relieved rink that picked up 2 shots on the last end for a share of the spoils. This half point could prove to be important come the end of the season.

For the second away match in a row Ards B got off to a strong start and after five ends had opened up a 14 shot lead. This was mainly due to the rink skipped by R Fulton as 5 shots on the 5th end followed by 6 shots on the next end help them to take a commanding lead by 12 shots 2. Forth River B managed to cut the overall deficit to 5 shots in the 2nd quarter of the match with this period being a bit of a mixed bagful as far as Ards B were concerned.  D Savage's rink was in total control of their match against G McCullough but it was what was happening in the matches involving the rinks skipped by R Fulton and B Martin that was causing concern for Ards. On Fulton's rink it was a mirror image of what had happened in the Malone match - a massive lead was slowly but surely being whittled away. Martin's rink managed a solitary single between the 6th and 10th ends and looked like they were heading towards a comprehensive defeat as they trailed by 15 shots to 4. Over the next five ends Ards B outscored Forth River B by 18 shots to 4 and now had a 19 shot advantage which they should be able to protect over the last three ends of the match. Savage still held a 10 shot advantage but Martin, helped by 5 shots on the 11th end, had cut his deficit to just 4 shots. Fulton's rink was now all square so Ards still had a fighting chance of picking up 7 points.  There was to be no fairytale ending for Fulton as there was in the Malone match as Forth River B dominated the run in to win by 23 shots to 16. With honours even over the last 3 ends Martin finished 4 shots adrift of M Gault. Savage continued to dominate in his match against G McCullough and 6 shots on the last end enabled him to post an impressive win by 24 shots to 8. The rink skipped by B Lynn can usually be relied upon to produce a result and they did so once again to record their fourth victory in a row.

The Midweek team, having strung together a winning run of five matches, faced a N.I.C.S. team that traditionally has run them close in their League and Cup encounters. Only 1 shot separated the teams after five ends and by the 10th end they were still neck and neck with Ards just edging it by 2 shots. B Martin had a comfortable lead but even at this stage R Gibson's rink was struggling to stay in touch with the N.I.C.S. rink skipped by A Ferguson.  By fifteen ends Ards held a slender 9 shot lead with the likely result at rink level becoming more apparent. Martin was on course for an emphatic win as he led B Jess by 13 shots with Gibson seemingly heading for a defeat as he now trailed Ferguson by 11 shots. L Wilkinson's rink hit a rich vein of form between the 11th and 15th ends and with a 7 shot lead looked like another winning rink for Ards. With C Robson all square at 11 shots each this was the only match that was going to go right to the wire. N.I.C.S. fought back over the last three ends but could not overhaul Ards who held on for a 2 shot victory. Martin and Wilkinson duly won and with Gibson being defeated by 31 shots to 10 it was up to Robson to try and get a win to secure an additional bonus point.  It was not to be as D McAleese eked out a single shot victory for N.I.C.S.

Overall it was a very good week for the Ards club as they won five matches out of five.

Upcoming fixtures
IBA Intermediate Cup: Musgrave v Ards A
Division 2: Hilden A v Ards A

NIPGBL Junior Cup: Belmont C v Ards B


Both Ards A and Ards B were in cup action this week with the A team playing Musgrave in the Irish Intermediate Cup and the B team playing Belmont C in the NIPGBL Junior Cup. Ards A beat Musgrave on the way to winning the cup last year but little was known of the form of Belmont C other than that they were sitting at the bottom of NIPGBL Division 4.
It became apparent very quickly that the Ards A players were going to struggle on the heavy green but despite this they managed to restrict Musgrave to a 6 shot advantage after the 1st quarter of the game. There was little between any of the rinks and it was just a matter of Ards A trying to adapt to the pace of the green. Over the next five ends Musgrave extended their lead to 11 shots and although Ards A were ahead on only one rink there was still enough ends left for them to be able to turn the match around. The 11th to 15th ends saw Ards A stage a fighting comeback to move ahead by 57 shots to 54. This was due in no small way to the rink of D Bell, T Thompson, R Dunbar and G McKee. Having trailed by 6 shots to 12 after seven ends they won the next eight ends to move ahead of J Dickson by 19 shots to 12. The front end of Bell and Thompson laid the foundations for this especially on the 13th to 15th ends as Mckee's rink picked up scores of 3, 2 and 3. Brown's rink also chipped in with scores of 1, 1, 3 and 4 between the 12th and 15th ends as all Ards A rinks seemed to be getting more consistent weight the longer the match went on. Over the course of the last six ends Ards were always a few shots ahead and were relieved to claim a narrow victory by 84 shots to 77. In the quarter final Ards A have a home tie against Curran.
There was little to separate Ards B and Belmont C over the course of the first ten ends with Belmont C just ahead by 37 shots to 34. B Gibson's rink was 15 shots down before they picked up a single on the 8th end which they followed up with another single and then 5 shots to trail B Galloway by 8 shots to 15. This comeback eased the pressure on the other three rinks which were all ahead at this point. The third quarter of the match saw Belmont C overwhelmed as they were outscored by 41 shots to 10 as Ards B took what looked like a match winning lead of 28 shots. The Ards B rink of J Poots, H Douglas, G Hollinger and T Thompson picked up a count of 7 shots on the 14th end as they surged ahead by 25 shots to 6. Martin and Lynn also looked assured of victory while Gibson was still trailing but at least now had a shot at victory as he had pulled back to within 6 shots of B May. What looked like being a comfortable victory ended up a rout as Ards B completely dominated the run in to win by 107 shots to 60. All rinks finished up and they now face a more formidable test when they play P.S.N.I. , a Division 3 side, in the semi-final which will be hosted by Ewarts.

Upcoming fixtures
NIPGBL Midweek League: Ards v Belmont A
NIPGBL Division 2: Cliftonville A v Ards A
NIPGBL Division 5: Ards B v Hilden B

Three weeks ago Ards A were languishing in 8th place in NIPGBL Division 2 and well off the pace in the race to secure promotion to Division 1. An unbeaten run of four matches, together with results elsewhere going in their favour, now sees Ards A sitting in second place just 1 point behind Ulster Transport. Division 2 still remains the most unpredictable of all five divisions so there is likely to be more twists and turns during the second half of the season.

Cliftonville A are no longer the force in senior bowls that they once were but are still more than capable of grinding out results especially on their home green. It soon became apparent that Ards A would have to fight for every shot and by the ten end mark they had done well to eke out a 5 shot lead. Two rinks were all square with the rinks skipped by N Dorman and G McKee leading by 3 shots and 2 shots respectively. McKee had got off to a flying start when he picked up 6 shots on the 1st end and then 3 shots on the 2nd but R Gray's Cliftonville A rink had whittled away at the lead and were now just 2 shots adrift. By the 13th end Ards A had opened up a sizeable gap but disaster struck on the 14th end when the rinks skipped by Adair and Dorman both dropped counts of 5 shots to allow Cliftonville A right back into the game. Despite having three rinks up and a 7 shots advantage at fifteen ends Ards A knew that this match could go either way such was the narrow gap between all rinks. If Ards A go on to gain promotion they may look back at the last quarter of this match as the defining moment of their season. During this period they outscored Cliftonville A by 34 shots 11 and in the process captured a full house of 7 points. Leading the charge was N Dorman's rink which between the 16th and 21st ends recorded scores of 2,0,3,3,1 and 2 to win by 26 shots to 14. Five shots on the 17th end for B Thompson's rink killed off the challenge of Cliftonville's K O'Neill with Thompson going on to win by 24 shots to 17. McKee's rink weighed in with a 7 shots victory and with Adair picking up counts of 4 shots on the 20th and 21st ends to win by 4 it made it a clean sweep for Ards A.

With just one defeat in ten league matches Ards B now sit proudly at the top of NIPGBL Division 5. Should Albert Foundry pick up maximum points from their two matches in hand they could overtake Ards B but at this stage of the season it is much better to have the points in the bag.

The first half of the match against Hilden B was close overall with the visiting team just ahead by 3 shots. Ards B were ahead on three rinks but on D Savage's rink the writing was already on the wall as they trailed by 5 shots to 18. On the 8th end B Martin's rink had the opportunity to pick up a full house of 8 shots but had to settle for 7 as Martin's last bowl agonisingly found a gap to deprive them of the seldom achieved full house. The third quarter of the match saw little change either at overall or individual rink level as Ards B cut the deficit to 2 shots. If Savage's rink could manage to pick up a few shots over the last three ends there was a very good chance that the remaining three rinks could cover his deficit and potentially Ards B could pick up six points. Ards B had the better of the run in and a 4 shot win was good enough for 6 points.

In Midweek League Division 1 Salisbury have yet to taste defeat and now lead 3rd place Ards by 6 points. It is important for Ards not only to win matches but to pick up as many bonus points as possible if they are to retain the title they won last year.

Belmont A would provide a stern test for Ards as they are a much stronger team that their lowly league position would indicate. By ten ends Ards were ahead on all rinks but this translated to just a 13 shots lead as all matches were too close to call. Over the next five ends the potential result on two of the rinks was starting to become more apparent. R Gibson's rink looked like it had done enough to ensure victory as it had restricted Belmont's T Mercer to just five scoring ends and now led by 14 shots to 6. B Martin's rink looked like it was heading towards defeat but were extremely unlucky to be in this position. On the 14th end Martin's rink were lying 6 shots when the Belmont skip D Hamilton drove the head. A perfect strike scattered the head and when the bowls settled Belmont A were lying 6 shots. The swing of 12 shots put Hamilton's rink very much in the driving seat. On the remaining rinks Wilkinson and Robson both led by 4 shots but this was not sufficient a cushion to guarantee victory as there were still three ends left to play. Belmont had the best of the closing stages but Ards managed to hang on to win by 3 shots and secure 5.5 points. The Gibson and Martin results ended up as predicted. Wilkinson won by 3 shots but Robson failed to score over the last three ends as P O'Neill's rink fought back for a share of the spoils. Belmont A did not play like a team that was twelve places and 26.5 points behind Ards.

Upcoming fixtures
NIPBGL Division 2: Ards A v Downpatrick
NIPGBL Division 5: Cliftonville B v Ards B

NIPGBL Midweek League Division 1: Ballymena v Ards