The Ballinasloe Bowls Club won the prestigious Active Retirement Ireland Billy Pope Cup for the first time in 22 years, being the second town to win the trophy in that period withstanding the dominance of the city teams.
Thirty-two teams entered and contested in several venues across four days, kicking off in Galway City inside the Mervue Community Centre, and finishing in Loughrea.
Along the competition, Ballinasloe defeated 2020 title-holders Corofin, and then overcame the challenge of Mountbellew in the quarter-final.
The competition concluded with the semi-finals and final being staged in the Temperance Hall Loughrea on February 22 this year.
Ballinasloe triumphed against home-players Loughrea to pass the semis by a margin of two points. The following match saw the two squads from Salthill competing against one another to place in the final, with the area’s Team One beating their Team Two by a margin of three points.
The decider was now set for Ballinasloe versus Salthill One, played over nine ends. Ballinasloe’s team featured Brendan Kelly as Skip, along with Joe Murphy and Michael Kelly against Salthill’s team with James Sargent as Skip along with Michael Dempsey and Breda Sargent. The squads went blow for blow, with one point being scored in each round.
After six ends both teams were equal in score, with three totalled each. Ballinasloe pulled away in the penultimate stage to win the competition by a margin of three, with the town scoring a final result of six points and Salthill three.
Winning this Cup is a remarkable achievement for the Kelly twins and Joe Murphy. The trio played exceptionally against their seasoned and talented opponents. The team’s skip Brendan Kelly was a former International Discus Thrower and represented Ireland on a few occasions within Bowls competitions in the 1970's.
The club welcomes new members, open to men and women aged from 50 to 90 years. The sport provides plenty of exercise, social interaction, and opportunities to learn good sportsmanship and etiquette.
Ballinasloe Bowls gather twice a week, early every Monday from 10:30 until 12:30 and late every Thursday from 19:00 until 21:00, at the Emerald Ballroom in town. The first three attendances are free of charge and €3 per occasion afterwards.
To join the group, you can contact the Western Bowls Association at email@example.com.
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