Tuesday, June 25, 2024


NEWCASTLE Bowling Club secretary Damian Scarlett has spoken to the Mourne Observer about the delight felt by members of the history-making side that defeated Balmoral in the IBA Irish Junior Cup final on Saturday.

The 85 shots to 27 shots victory secured the club’s first ever Irish Cup and Damian, who was part of the team that claimed the win over firm favourites Balmoral, says they are still processing the achievement. “It’s hard to put into words. The team we were playing against (Balmoral) were the hot favourites,” he said. “It was a complete mismatch, David vs Goliath. They were full of junior internationals, ex-Irish international and association players, they were a really top team. “The sheer delight when we won and the emotion of some of our long-standing players, some of them were in tears, they didn’t think it would ever happen. “We were so delighted and I don’t think we’ve actually come back down to earth yet.” The Balmoral side, who, as Damian mentioned, contained a number of ex-international players, were expected by many to win the game comfortably, but the underdogs tag played into the hands of the Castle Park outfit. “We had two big matches earlier in the week, two league games that we needed to win and then the rest of the week all we were talking about was ‘We’re just going to go and enjoy this.’ “We went in there with no pressure on us, nobody expected us to win. “That made us all the more at ease to play and the underdog tag helped us immensely. “From the very first end we took the lead and we never gave that up all afternoon. “You could see the pressure was on them (Balmoral) to get back in the game. “Their team were looking at each other in disbelief, wondering how on earth they were getting beaten, especially getting beaten by a bunch of old men!” Damian added. It was an incredible moment in particular for some of Newcastle’s long serving members, including 99- year-old Eamon Lennon, who made his own piece of history by becoming the oldest player to win an IBA national title. Damian describes him as “an inspiration”. “He was sensational. Eamon’s tagline is ‘If you need me, I’ll play,’ that’s all he ever says. “He’s an inspiration. He plays golf nearly every morning and he’s on the bowling green every afternoon. “He’s an amazing character, very quietly spoken, always has a welcoming smile and is just a true gentleman. “He deserved this, he’s been with the club since 1986. “Derek Gibbons has been there since 1982, Sam Hardy and Liam Fitzpatrick have been there a long time. Those boys deserve to be there, just for the occasion of an Irish Cup final, never mind the win.” Having already won the 16 Player Junior Cup in July, the team have an opportunity to complete an incredible treble-winning campaign on Saturday.

The local side face Ormeau Park in an NIBA Division 3A title decider. With Ormeau sitting on top of the table with 80.5 points and Newcastle in second on 77 points, a big win is required to overtake the Belfast outfit and claim the title. Damian says confidence is high going into the game, following their cup final win, and he believes it would be “an amazing achievement” to win three trophies in one season. “We’ve played 24 games this season and we’ve only lost three times. “Confidence is high but we need to go there and win big on Saturday. “We’ll be feeling the pressure on Saturday, more so than in the cup final, but promotion and getting the club up to the next level, this is the best chance we’ve got and to do the treble would be an amazing achievement.”

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