Donegal Ladies bowls team defied the odds to win the IIBA Women’s Inter-zone title at Killclogher on Saturday.
A strong experienced Armagh side were looking to win the Cup for the seventh time and were favourites to succeed on the tricky mats in the neutral venue. However, they met a determined group of Donegal Ladies who did not read from the same script. #
On mat one, Jean Buchanan, Lisa O’Kane, Donna Hegarty and Ruth Crawford were always in control and, despite some great saving bowls from Armagh’s Irene Douglas, romped home by thirteen shots to six shots.
Onemat two, Dorothy Montgomery, super sub Kathleen Lynch, in for Ruby Graham, Mary McClintock and Margaret Montgomery had a tough battle, winning only four ends but it was enough to post an eight shots to six shots win.
On mat three, Pat Devenny, Sylvia Bell, Paula Friel and Audrey Gilfillan played well to come out on top by nine shots to eight shots. This left Donegal Ladies leading by 30 shots to 20 shots, not a comfortable lead, but giving great encouragement to the players after the interval. They eventually triumphed with a thumping 15 shots to spare.
It was the second time for Donegal to lift the McIlroy Cup.
“We’re still trying to take it all in,” said Donegal’s Fred Aicken. “We went in to the game as underdogs, but in many ways that took the pressure off us.
“Armagh are a top side. They have worked hard to strengthen the team in recent years. They have had their hands on the trophy on six previous occasions, so they knew what was required.
“Whereas, our record in finals doesn’t make pretty reading. Even though we won the cup for the first time in 2012, we lost in the previous four finals.
“But as I told the players before the game, anything can happen in a one-off match.”
Donegal took the game by the scruff of the neck, winning on the three first half mats.
Armagh’s Pauline Beattie tried desperately to haul her team back into it by beating Rachael McDonnell 11-10, but Vera Patterson’s one shot victory (11-10) over Lisa Douglas ensured Donegal’s name would again be engraved on the trophy.
“It was a fantastic performance by the entire team,” added Aicken. “If anything, this even beats our first cup win simply because we were given no chance.”
Result: Armagh 46 Donegal 61 (I Douglas 6 R Crawford 13; E Smyth 6 M Montgomery 8; R Cassells 8 A Gilfillan 9; P Beattie 11 R McDonnell 9; L Douglas 10 V Patterson 11; C Beattie 5 E Doherty 11).