Bowls: West Lothian lose out after thrilling final

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West LOTHIAN IBC suffered a single-shot defeat in the final of the Scottish indoor bowls Cup at Whiteinch, Glasgow, as Blantyre captured the honours in a thrilling climax to a cracking encounter.

The final between the two Premier League teams lived up to its pre-match hype before Blantyre edged a memorable 70-69 victory, deservedly putting their name on the silverware for the first time, having kept their noses ahead on 15 of the 21-ends.

The phase scoring reflects the story of the unfolding drama with Blantyre edging the first seven ends 25-22, then blazing an impressive 31-19 trail on the next seven ends to look good at 15 shots up in the match.

But West Lothian fired up the match atmosphere with a storming 28-14 fightback, highlighted by a spirited 7-0 domination of end 18.

Calum Logan, against Jim McCann, and team captain Thomas Mann, against Brian Irvine, turned in winning performances for West Lothian, but Alex Kelly and Iain McLean defeated Neil Speirs and Mark Allison respectively.

West Lothian had been chasing the dream of a League and Cup double at national level and the Premier League champions were also seeking a record sixth success in the Cup.

“We came mighty close to achieving both our objectives as the final result could have gone either way, but Jim McCann probably tipped the scales for Blantyre with two brilliant take outs for a crucial single on his last end,” said George Sneddon later.

McCann’s late conversions gave Blantyre a four-shot match lead with one rink left and Speirs came close to forcing the final into an extra end decider by carding a magic three.

“The final was also a great triumph for the sport as it was full of great banter, great moments, and great respect and sportsmanship between both sets of players”, added 62-year old Sneddon.

Logan and his rink of Richard Mark, Blair Mackie, and Sneddon led from start to finish in their 16-11 win over 51-times capped McCann.

Mann was denied a 21st end by the time bell and that might have been significant given that he had scored at the previous six in the process of skipping Cameron Greer, Ian Drysdale, and James Speirs from 11-16 down to 19-16 up against Brian Irvine.

Allison and his rink of Paul Lynas, Jamie Gracie, and Stuart Johnston tumbled from 11-8 up to 17-11 down with the heavy loss of 5 and 4, but remained competitive in a 22-19 defeat by McLean.

Speirs and his rink of Bryan Cooper, James Greenock, and Des Hagart slipped from 7-7 to 7-17 then, coming late, failed to prevent a 21-15 defeat by Kelly.