Senior struggles in the past thanks to impressive run across opening games

Portadown Golf Club members celebrate championship success in Armagh Zone Indoor Bowling League Division Two.
Portadown Golf Club members celebrate championship success in Armagh Zone Indoor Bowling League Division Two.

Portadown have been a regular fixture in top-level league bowls since 1978 but required slices of good fortune across the past two seasons to protect that record.

In 2013, only a victory by Dromore against Lurgan left Portadown in top spot then a late surge the following campaign helped to preserve senior status.

However, a turnaround in form has left Portadown with seven wins from eight fixtures to sit just 1.5 points off unbeaten Whitehead at the head of the standings.

The reward of seven points from the tussle with Balmoral came down to which side could cope best with the final five ends on three rinks.

Portadown finished with a clear 21-7 success to push past Balmoral towards the 95-61 success.

Portadown led by 26-15 at five ends and it was 44-33 by 10. With 16 on the scoreboard it was 69-48 but Balmoral had a single-shot lead on rink three, three up on three and down by just six after four.

George Richardson, Paul Moffett, Derek Wright and Sean Trainor - the latter in superb individual form - produced a decisive display.

Portadown opened with four then added three, four and one for a 12-1 lead by five ends.

Balmoral failed to produce a significant response, with counts of one or two the only reward.

A run of 10 shots without reply across ends 12 to 16 helped push Portadown to 26-6 in the 31-12 win.

Joe Corrigan, Robert Hobson, Maurice Whitla and Aidan Corrigan registered a couple of fours to move 11-8 up. However, Balmoral hit back to lead by 18-13 and set up the closing ends as crucial.

Wins on five consecutive ends included two counts of four towards the 25-23 win.

Chris Duff, Billy Martin, Derek McCallion and Mark Sproule were also engaged in another tight contest.

Balmoral had a lead of 14-11 but Portadown produced a strong finish for success over each of the final five ends in a 17-14 win.

David Millsopp, Peter Hunniford, Richard McMullan and Dane Jordan were down by 5-1 early on but held a lead of 8-7.

The gap had increased to five shots by 16 ends and another impressive push left Portadown on a 22-12 victory.

Ultimately, those closing ends turned a potential 4-3 return into a seven-point haul.

Portadown B posted back-to-back wins against BETS and Queen’s Island to add another impressive score to the league tally.

A 6-1 return from the BETS match left Portadown with success by 83-60 in the clash of the two promoted sides.

It proved tense across three rinks - but the quartet of Billy McClean, Wayne Dougan, Barney McCartan and Noel Quinn recovered from defeat across the first two ends to claim the following nine.

This run towards a 14-3 lead included a five-shot haul on the way to a 27-9 success.

Portadown also posted wins for Noel Orr’s rink by 19-14 and Robert Cassells’ four on 18-15, with Errol Whitten’s men down 22-19.

Portadown marched past Queen’s Island by 102-56 with a seven-point return thanks to the following results: Errol Whitten’s rink won 38-12, Robert Cassells’ rink won 27-12, Noel Orr’s rink won 15-11 and Noel Quinn’s rink won 22-21.

Portadown B face Pickie tomorrow (Saturday) in the IBA Cup and the A men visit league leaders Whitehead on Tuesday.