Fountain in driving seat

THE latest round of matches in the Ballymena and District Snooker League saw the race for the Divisions One and Two titles edge towards the Fountain teams in each division.

In the first division, leaders Fountain Aces returned home to Antrim having pocketed a maximum four point haul from their trip to Minnesota Strikers.

Anthony Watson put Aces in front with a straight frames win over Stewart McClelland but the rest of the Aces team had to work hard for their wins all of which were in the deciding frame.

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Aidan Bradley recorded a good come from behind win against the consistent Dean Greer and Leonard Clewer scraped past Trevor Alexander in a very scrappy deciding frame.

Aces captain Liam Kelly secured the fourth point for his team as he battled back from a frame down to see off Colin Perry and put his side in command of the division with just three rounds of league games to play.

The night got even better for the Antrim side when word filtered through that the Minnesota A team had lost 4-0 in Dunloy against Dunloy Galaxy.

The match, a rearranged fixture because of the Minnesota team's participation in the recent All Ireland competition, saw every game go to a deciding frame.

Sadly for the reigning champions, the Dunloy youngster came out on top in each of the crucial deciding frames.

Bobby Darragh, Paul McQuillan and Miceal Murphy having dropped the opening frame all managed to prevail in deciders against Rodney McFall, Brian Hannaway and David McClintock respectively.

Michael McPoland having been pegged back by Gary Erwin then won the decider to deprive Minnesota A of even a solitary point and leave David McClintock's team with a tough, but not impossible, task of retaining their title.

Having gained their first league win of the season Galaxy were in action again this week this time battling out a 2-2 draw with their United clubmates.

United captain Michael Crilly and Martin Crawley gained the points for a United side still to taste victory in the league with Paul McQuillan and Michael McPoland replying for Galaxy.

In Ballymena the Minnesota B team and Rafters Runners fought out a 2-2 draw which enabled Runners to take over second spot in the table.

David Swann and Jordan Millar gained the points for the B team with wins over Dylan Murray and Richard Clyde with Stefan Christie and Lee Corr sending Runners back to Ballymoney with a share of the spoils thanks to wins over William Dobbin and Andrew Hutchinson.

Coming towards the season's end Fountain Aces are in the driving seat with a four point lead over Rafters Runners each with two games to play. Minnesota A are six behind with a game in hand and they have to visit Fountain in the final match of the season.

In Division Two, league leaders Rafters Potters had to battle hard for a 2-2 draw with their Rafters Aces clubmates.

Ryan Murphy got the host Aces' first point defeating Kieran McGrath and their points tally doubled as Billy Moore edged out Ryan O'Doherty on the black in the deciding frame.

Lee Gibson won a close fought contest with Jimmy Davison and Mark Heggarty grabbed what could yet prove to be a valuable second point for the Potters with victory over Kevin Clarke.

In Antrim, Fountain Jokers moved to within a point of the Potters with a 3-1 victory over Dunloy Cowboys.

Gerard McAuley had given the Dunloy men the lead with a win over Darrell Brammeld but Calvin Brammeld, Billy Thompson and Joe Bingham ensured Jokers stay very much in contention for the Division Two crown with wins over John Joe O'Neill Aidan McErlaine and Randal McDonnell respectively.

In the Parochial club, Danny McGarry's Parochial Hawks team remain just about in contention for the league after a 4-0 win against Parochial Lions.

Captain McGarry, Paul Casey, Pat McNally and Niall McElroy, who had a walkover victory, gathered in the points for the Hawks against a Lions outfit deprived through work commitments of its best two players Rondey McAleese and Richard Russell.

League new boys 147 Rockets continue to perform well in their debut season, this time securing a 2-2 draw from their visit to Rafters Hotshots. Robert Hamilton and Richard Hayes were victorious for the Randalstown side with Cedric Hargin and Ryan Maxwell securing the draw for the Ballymoney side.

With three rounds of matches left, Rafters Potters hold a slender one point lead from Fountain Aces who have a game in hand.

The meeting between the teams in Ballymoney on March 15 could have a major bearing on who wins the league. Parochial Hawks and Dunloy Cowboys in third and fourth still have a mathematical chance of the league but will require a bit of help to achieve the title.

DIVISION ONE

Dunloy Galaxy 4, Minnesota A 0: (60] P McQuillan 2, (15] B Hannaway 1 (66-84, 65-29, 88-49); (65] B Darragh 2, (15] R McFall 1 (74-90, 84-74, 93-24); (40] M Murphy 2, (15] D McClintock 1 (26-79, 65-28, 70-56); (65] M McPoland 2, (5] G Erwin 1 (92-70, 66-94, 83-50). Breaks - Gary Erwin 33, David McClintock 33.

Minnesota Strikers 0, Fountain Aces 4: (65] S McClelland 0, (50] A Watson 2 (35-47, 26-65); (45] D Greer 1, (55] A Bradley 2 (69-28, 20-66, 53-76); (40] T Alexander 1, (45] L Clewer 2 (52-61, 75-47, 31-41); (65] C Perry 1, (20] L Kelly 2 (70-58, 56-68, 52-76). Breaks - Dean Greer 32c.

Dunloy Galaxy 2, Dunloy United 2: (40] M Murphy 0, (25] M Crawley 2 (45-65, 46-59); (60] P McQuillan 2, (45] B McTaggart 0 (71-40, 73-47); (65] B Darragh 0, (55] M Crilly 2 (44-53, 30-60); (65] M McPoland 2, (55] C Cunning 1 (39-75, 60-51, 51-19).Break – Cathair Cunning 25.

Minnesota B 2, Rafters Runners 2: (20] D Swann 2, (15] D Murray 0; (30] J Millar 2, (20] R Clyde 1 (56-21, 32-68, 65-17); (35] W Dobbin 0, (40] S Christie 2 (20-53, 44-60) ; (15] A Hutchinson 0, (30] L Corr 2 (12-55, 38-71).

DIVISION TWO

Fountain Jokers 3, Dunloy Cowboys 1: (60] D Brammeld 1, (55] G McAuley 2 (27-53, 72-36, 24-56); (45] C Brammeld 2, (60] JJ O'Neill 1 (39-63, 55-43, 77-31); (50] J Bingham 2, (25] R McDonnell 0 (56-41, 52-31); B Thompson 2, (75] A McErlaine 0 (62-32, 52-31).

Rafters Hotshots 2, 147 Rockets 2: (60] P Hargin 2, (50] P Brammeld 0 (51-28, 59-17); (60] C Hargin 0, (50] R Hamilton 2 (36-68, 34-55); (60] R Maxwell 2; (65] S French 1 (50-52, 91-9, 58-32); (50] A McAlonan 0, (55] R Hayes 2 (36-72, 27-72).

Rafters Aces 2, Rafters Potters 2: (45] R Murphy 2, (50] K McGrath 0 (62-40, 52-31); (45] B Moore 2, (45] R O'Doherty 1 (53-47, 2-54, 54-53); (55] J Davison 1, (35] L Gibson 2 (71-57, 72-77, 53-73); (55] K Clarke 0, (50] M Heggarty 2 (55-63, 47-64).

Parochial Lions 0, Parochial Hawks 4: (75] B Goodall 1, (55] D McGarry 2 (70-21, 50-73, 56-67); (75] D Curran 0, (45] P Casey 2 (50-85, 53-82); (80] R McCart 0, (60] P McNally 2 (39-55, 42-69); (35] R McAleese scr, (50] N McElroy 2.