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Muldoons open for business

Magherafelt to Mallusk and now to Muldoons. The south antrim club are on the move again and this time they have their eyes on something more than the John Strawbridge Cup!
Muldoons open for business

Upstairs in Muldoons

Club captain Peter Wilson has found the team a comfortable and convenient base in the heart of Belfast: upstairs in Muldoons Bar. This will be the teams home venue in the Belfast & District League. The bar can be awkward to get to if you accidentally get trapped in the one-way system that is Corporation Street so check your directions beforehand.

Muldoons is situated on the corner of what was Tomb Street and Corporation Square across the road from Sinclair Seamen's Church and the Harbour Commissioners. There is plenty of street parking in the evenings. Coming from the city centre along Victoria Street, veer right towards the river after the Albert Clock and then veer left  along Donegal Quay toward the ferry terminal (Tomb Street does not reach Corporation Square any more). Alternatively, approaching from the north, the westlink or the M2, head for the docks and along Corporation Street turning left at Direct Wine Shipments into Corporation Square. If you overshoot - missing the turn - carry on round left after the lights onto Donegal Quay.

The team is upbeat about the move; of an evening the bar is quiet, the locals friendly and upstairs accommodation is comfy too. But the biggest change of all is the Muldoon's Squad. "We are going for the Silver King this year" Peter calmly informs us "and I'm afraid, Nick," with an Xfactor pause for effect "we will have difficulty getting you a game on a regular basis, probably board 5 if at all". Nick Pilkiewicz (1864), ashen faced, retired to the bar. Of course, maybe this was just posturing, fighting talk. Ballynafeigh decided to call them out and a "friendly" match was arranged for Monday 16th Sept.

First to fall early was Damien Cunningham, evidently out of match practice, blundered a piece and the game to Danny Mallaghan on board 2. This happened not long after the board 5 game had started. Black's clock was 40 minutes gone and ticking while Paddy Magee chewed his fingernails and his opponent explored Corporation Street and its environs trying to find the bar (did you know that Paddy's Bar and The Rotterdam are both closed now?, the American Bar still survives though). Eventually the game kicked off and after a couple of loose moves from both player's, Paddy got caught in a combination of forks, forced moves and exchanges to lose material, position and ultimately the game. Two games down and Muldoon's seemed to be clearly on top but the other 4 games were not so clear cut, most running into the final 30 minutes or so.

Robert Lavery - on form at the moment, fresh from successes in the Summer Tournament and Ulster Intermediate - defended on board 4 for Ballynafeigh. Stephen Downes was unable to make any headway, forced to resign against Robert's superior position. Magherafelt veteran, Paddy Maguire talked Bill Lavery into accepting a draw on board 5. Peter McGuiken and Ballynafeigh's Thomas Donaldson finally agreed a draw on board 3 too after a testing game where neither player could gain the upper-hand; with time running out, a draw was the only option. This left the top board, with David Houston as Ballynafeigh's last chance of avoiding a loss - however narrow. David was at least 3 pawns up in a Rook endgame with Gareth Annesley's flag crawling up the minute hand for the last time. David looked safe and confident - material advantage, and many minutes ahead. Under severe time pressure, Gareth dashed his Rook from one end of the board to the other pestering White's King and its defending pawns in one corner while harrying the pawns trying desperately to reach promotion on the opposite, Queen-side. As it was, David's material advantage got whittled down and with both flags now teetering on top of their big hands, Gareth forced the draw. Phew!

Well, a half-point win for Muldoon's - not exactly an impressive Silver King challenge. Unperturbed, Peter Wilson explained "We have a couple of big guns couldn't make it tonight. Add them into the mix, and Nick on board 5 and it will be a different story". Just then he wandered off after the landlord whittering on about a trophy cabinet or something. Nick was still down in the bar, ashen faced. But maybe that was more about Liverpool's performance that night than his prospects on board 5.

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