The final of the National Outdoor League was ran last Saturday by the Northern Ireland Tug of War Association, in what was a first all island partnership between the ITOWA and NITOWA. It was hosted by the Country Club at the Fermanagh Lakeland Forum, in the centre of Enniskillen, beside Lough Erne. Most of the top teams from North and South were in attendance to take part in a very high standard of competition. The facilities were superb, with an excellent weigh-in and pulling area. G&B finished their preparation for the World Games by coming out as overall winners of the 680kg and runners-up in the 600kg. Bancran were the days other big winners, with their A team winning the 600kg event and taking silver in the 680kg. Eleven clubs attended – Mountain View, G&B, Bancran, Derryogue, Richill, Greenhill, Leo’s Boys, Ballinagh, Ballinastoe, Donoughmore, & Gort na Cloiche.
The Men’s Open 600kg was ran first and 9 teams took part. Bancran repeated their performance from round 1 and topped the round robin on maximum points. G&B, competing with 7 men, were next in line having only lost to Bancran. After the round robin, the points from all 3 days were added up and the 4 teams to progress to the Semi Finals were Bancran, G&B, Ballinastoe and Greenhill. Bancran overcame Greenhill in straight ends to make the final. G&B defeated Ballinastoe by the same margin in the 2nd semi final.
In the Bronze decider, Greenhill pushed out Ballinastoe in two straight ends to take the 1st medal of the day.
The 1st end of the final was an even affair. Both G&B and Bancran ratcheted up the pressure for the first 3 1/2 minutes, before G&B started to attack. They managed to bring the rope back half way, before Bancran broke them, taking it all the way back and winning the end in a time of 5 minutes 13. The second end started off in a similar fashion, with G&B begining to attack after 1 1/2 minutes. This time though, they couldn’t make any headway and Bancran capitalised on the movement in the rope to push on and take the end and the gold medal in 2 minutes 26.
11 teams contested the Men’s Open 680kg with G&B topping the round robin on 30 points. They were followed by Bancran A on 25 points, Ballinastoe on 23 and Donoghmore and Mountain View both on 20 points. Once the points from all 3 rounds were totalled, the 4 clubs to progress to the semi’s were Ballinastoe, G&B, Donoughmore and Bancran A.
G&B made short work of their semi final, winning both ends in under a minute. The second semi final was a much closer affair, with Bancran taking the 1st end after Ballinastoe were blown out. Ballinastoe hit back hard in the 2nd end, but it was Bancran who outlasted them to make their second final of the day.
Ballinastoe have been the most consistent team in all 3 rounds of the league, but they were to suffer disappointment again in the bronze medal pull. Donoughmore were much too strong in the 1st end. Ballinastoe came back in the 2nd end, but came up just short again, with Donoughmore taking the bronze medal after a straight end victory.
After pulling the 600kg competition with 7 men, G&B were very powerful throughout the 680kg with 8-men. In the final, they were well on top and won both ends in under 40 seconds to reverse the result of the 600kg final and head to Poland for the World Games in good form.
The final points and table positions have been updated on the results page.
Thanks to Maureen Geary and Patrick Kernan for the scores and photos.