Western Ladies 60 Donegal Ladies 62 So near and yet so far amid a roller coaster of emotions best describes the semi final match between Western Ladies Inter-zone team and the Donegal Ladies zone team played on Saturday in the Cathedral Hall, Raphoe.

At the end of the day, the Western Ladies missed out on a place in the final by two points following a cracking game that ebbed and flowed throughout.

Before travelling to the venue there was a cry off that morning with one lady unable to play due to illness, Gillian Stevenson very kindly stepped into the breach (the selectors are indebted to Gillian) and there was then a bit of juggling to be done on some of the rinks. The Ladies team had been slightly changed from the previous game against Monaghan with Patricia Bradshaw and Jean Carson unable to play due to other commitments.

The first half got off to a good start with Clare Brogan leading, Catherine Scott second, Hannah Ferguson third and Jean Parkinson skip playing a rink skipped by A. Gilfillan. After the first three ends played the Western rink was leading 8–0 but in the next two ends the Donegal rink gained three shots to leave the scoreline at 8–3.

Over the following three ends, Jean’s rink picked up another four shots to lead 12–3, in the ninth end A Gilfillan rink picked up two shots and in the last end Western gained a single shot to win the game 13–5.

At the end of this game, Jean congratulated her players on an outstanding game especially Hannah Ferguson (a skip on the junior zone team) stepping up to play third. On the middle mat, Gillian Stevenson’s rink of Emma Scott another junior zone player in lead, Patricia Moohan second and Carmel McGovern third.

Playing against M. Montgomery’s rink, they found themselves 6–0 down after three ends but in the fourth end the Western ladies picked up two shots. However, over the next two ends they dropped five shots to trail 11 – 2 down but in the seventh end Gillian’s rink picked up an impressive six shots plus a single shot in the eighth end to bring the score to 11 – 9 down and over the remaining two ends they lost three shots to lose overall 14 – 9.

On mat three the rink skipped by Ellen Brogan with Laura Lunny leading, Gladys Dunlop second, Winnie Graydon third were up against the rink skipped by R Crawford.

The Western ladies picked up four shots in the first end and then dropped two singles over the next two ends before picking up a single shot themselves to lead 5–2 after four ends played. In the following three ends, Ellen’s rink dropped a total of nine shots to trail 9–5 after which they secured a single in the eighth end to leave the scoreline at 9–6 down and unfortunately they dropped a total of four shots over the remaining two ends to lose 13 – 6. This all meant that the half time scoreline was Western 28 Donegal 32.

With all to play for in the second half, the rink skipped by Caroline Scott, lead Sarah MaVitty, second Rita Cranston and third Rose Donnelly picked up five shots in their first end against V. Patterson’s rink.

Janet Brown’s rink of Margaret Nelson lead, Ethna Maguire second, Gladys Liggett third playing a rink skipped by E. Doherty dropped a single in their first end and Esther Forster’s rink with Frances Cartwright lead, Lisa MaVitty second, Tanya Armstrong third playing against the rink skipped by R. McDonnell dropped two shots in their first end to mean that Donegal remained just in front at 35–33.

Donegal’s lead overall after three ends played had extended to four shots with Caroline’s rink dropping three shots and then picking up two shots, Janet’s rink dropping a single and then securing a single and finally Esther’s rink dropped two shots and then secured two shots with the scoreline now Western 38 Donegal 41.

During the fourth and fifth ends, Caroline’s rink dropped four shots, Janet’s rink picked up two shots only to drop five shots and Esther’s rink secured seven shots, to leave it at Western 47 Donegal 50.

After the sixth and seventh ends had been played, Donegal were just in front at 56 to Western’s 54, Esther’s rink had picked up three shots, Janet’s rink had dropped four shots and then secured three shots and Caroline’s rink dropped a two and then picked up a single.

At this stage both Western and Donegal supporters were getting behind their teams shouting encouragement. After the eighth and ninth ends had been played, Donegal were still slightly in front with the scoreline standing at Western 57 Donegal 60, Caroline’s rink had secured a single and then dropped a single, Janet’s rink secured two singles and Esther’s rink had dropped a single and then two shots.

Caroline’s rink finished their game first picking up two shots (final rink score 11 – 10) in their tenth end to leave the overall scoreline at Western 59 Donegal 60.

Janet’s rink then finished their game dropping two shots in their last end (final rink score 8 – 13) to leave the voverall scoreline Western 59 Donegal 62, the pressure was then on Esther’s rink to try to picked up three shots to tie overall but the rink was only able to secure a single (final rink score 13 – 7) to leave the Donegal Ladies and their supporters celebrating with the final score Donegal 62 Western 60. Donegal Ladies will now meet the Armagh Ladies in the final of the McIlroy Cup on Saturday, February 21.

At the end of the game, the outgoing Zone Convener for Western, Jean Parkinson congratulated Donegal Ladies on their win and wished them all the best in the final. She then thanked the Western Ladies Zone team for their hard fought display and said it was a pity there had to be a loser after such a close and exciting game.

J Parkinson 13 A Gilfillan 5 G Stevenson 9 M Montgomery 14 E Brogan 6 R Crawford 13 E Forster 13 R McDonnell 7 J Brown 8 E Doherty 13 C Scott 11 V Patterson 10 JUNIOR INTERZONE TEAM PRACTICE A final practice has been arranged for Saturday, February 7 @ 3pm in Gransha Hall, for the full Junior Inter-zone Team.

A request by the selectors is that the full squad please attends.

The Juniors are to play on Saturday, February 14 in Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast in a round robin of games for the Junior Inter-zone title.

A bus has been booked for Saturday, February 14 and anybody wishing to book a seat on the bus please get in contact with Jean Parkinson 02867722132/07808673187 as soon as possible as seats are limited.