The men’s senior championship got underway with a cracking contest at Ballincurrig on Sunday morning. Arthur McDonagh and Michael Harrington were in opposition and the pair delivered a score worthy of the grade with 2020 All-Ireland winner, McDonagh, the hot favourite, just about edging it in the final exchanges. He will hardly receive a tougher test than that provided by Harrington who showed no ill effects from a lack of score practice in recent times. It was Harrington’s brilliant fifth shot to the ‘no-play lines’ that opened a big gap between them and a shock was on the cards when he extended that to a bowl lead approaching half-way. McDonagh recovered instantly with expertly delivered eighth and ninth shots on the ‘long straight’ to ‘Leahy’s’ and he was back in front throwing for the ‘big turn’. After both executed fine lofts at this point, McDonagh held the lead in the next phase to the ‘sycamores’ but needed all his guile and composure to follow a super fifteenth by Harrington to the last bend. Harrington’s shot for victory was a shade wide and McDonagh booked his place in the quarterfinal draw with a well-pitched sixteenth over the finish line. There was disappointment at the late cancellation of the second senior championship contest at Lyre between David Murphy and Michael Bohane. This will go ahead at a later date.
David O’Mahony inflicted a second successive tournament final defeat on Tim Young when taking the winner’s prize at Ballinacurra, Upton on Saturday afternoon last. It was an unfortunate ending for the Bantry man when, having thrown one of his best since the early exchanges, he took a tumble delivering a sixteenth shot that might have given him a chance of overhauling his Fivemilebridge rival. Since Young’s elevation to intermediate ranks in 2022, a string of victories subsequently only dented by a championship semi-final defeat to fellow clubman, Donal O’Riordan, marked the upgrading a successful move. That good form has deserted him in recent weeks although it didn’t show in an excellent opening sequence that had O’Mahony who has an outstanding record on the road, very much on the backfoot. Young’s fine opening brace was followed by a rocket like third that broke to his advantage on the main road crossing to yield almost a bowl lead. O’Mahony did well to follow another first-class effort of Young’s to keep it under the shot and it was to signal a turnaround in favour of the eventual winner. Throwing his odds with his fifth down the right, Tim Young choose a tight right-hand play and got no run. O’Mahony’s sixth was expertly delivered, and it gave him an unexpected lead when Young missed again. O’Mahony’s accuracy was the deciding factor from this point onward. Three in succession of the highest order brought him on to the straight beyond Innishannon cross a full bowl clear. Young fought gallantly in the next exchanges and succeeded in closing the gap significantly with a brilliant fifteenth. That calamitous fall put an end to his challenge. The stake money amounted to €1,400 with Young the punter’s favourite. It was not a good weekend for Bantry punters as Donal O’Riordan lost out to Paul Buckley on his home road on Sunday. A ‘Cancer Connect’ fund-raiser that carried a €5,500 total stake delivered an exciting finale as O’Riordan rallied from a bowl of odds down to come within three metres of Buckley for the last shot. The Crossbarry man won that vital exchange.
A repeat of a recent junior A tournament score had Gavin Twohig and John Creedon again going head-to-head at Ballygurteen on Friday evening. Rossmore man, Twohig, repeated his success of a fortnight ago after another tough battle. A more or less level score nearing half-way was turned in the winner’s favour when a big cast to the ‘Oakmount avenue’ put him a bowl of odds clear. Creedon fought it well and reduced the margin by ‘O’Donovan’s corner’ to a throw out. Last year’s All-Ireland winner in the grade did better with a piledriver away from here that cut Twohig’s odds to twenty metres, but a follow-up shot that went right off the play, put the brakes on his comeback charge and the local man took the spoils by a big fore bowl. On Bank Holiday Monday, at Lyre, Wayne Parkes defeated Eamonn Bowen by almost two bowls for a €10,000 stake. The Clon man’s seven to ‘Crowley’s corner’ gave him commanding odds.
The women’s intermediate group C score at Bauravilla on Friday saw the youthful European champion, Rachel Kingston, prevail against Gretta Cormican. The upshot of this result sees Rachel and Louise Collins progress to the quarterfinals from group C. The women’s senior and intermediate championships continue this week with the list including a high-profile senior group A clash at Grange between county champion, Hannah Sexton and the returning former three-time champion, Geraldine Curtin.
The Mid Cork junior B championship made progress during the week. A quarterfinal fixture at Beal na mBlath on Monday had Bryan O’Halloran and Denis Murphy, last year’s county junior C runner-up, in opposition. For a €1,400 total stake, it was a trap-to-line win for O’Halloran whose bowl of odds lead after three came under threat from a Murphy resurgence at the mid-way point. Uniquely, this result sets-up a regional family semi-final at Templemartin when Bryan takes on his father, Dan, still a formidable operator at junior level, thirty-five years on from his European Gold Medal winning performance and taking the runner-up spot to Denis Scully in the county intermediate final at Ballyvourney. On the other side of the draw, Noel O’Donovan maintained his good form with a semi-final win over John Butler at Jagoe’s Mills. The Valley Rovers man had a bowl to spare for an €800 total. In Mid novice A at Ballinacurra, Upton on Monday week, Eoin O’Donovan of Belgooly got the better of Joe Madden, Aherla, for a stake of €1,000. Brian Collins scored a win in the novice C championship at Newcestown when getting the better of Michael O’Driscoll. In novice C at Templemartin, Brian Collins defeated Dermot Crowley and Joshua Murphy defeated Darren Deasy. Here in novice D, Barry Murphy defeated Paudie Keohane by a bowl for €900. At Jagoe’s Mills in novice D, Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Fionn Dwyer, last shot for €900. Also, in D at Ballinacurra, Jerome O’Mahony defeated Teddy Murphy. In Mid Cork’s U18 boys championship, a good contest at Jagoe’s Mills saw Lee Collins win from Cathal Collins.
Adrian Buttimer is through to the West Cork junior B final following his victory over Kevin Cotter at Kealkil. John Young and Noel O’Regan contest the second semi at Durrus. In the novice B championship at The Clubhouse, Vincent Healy defeated last year’s county C runner-up, Con Collins. Michael Carroll was error-free at Drinagh on Bank Holiday Monday when winning his novice A championship score from Ballincarriga’s Padraigh O’Sullivan who was so impressive in winning last year’s novice B grade. For a €1,200 total, Carroll hit four fine efforts from the ‘church gate’ entrance to the point known as ‘the blacksticks’. A big bowl of odds clear here, the Kilmichael man held his advantage to the finish. West Cork’s under-age championships progressed with scores at Bantry, Ardcahan, Togher Cross and Ballinacarriga. The boys U12 title race is hotting up and at Bantry on Tuesday, Leo Arundel showed good form in a win from Charlie O’Neill and here too there was victory for another from Muinter Bhaire country when Eoghan Hickey won from Jamie O’Sullivan. Also, at Bantry in U16 girls, Drinagh’s rising star, Emma Hurley won from Niamh O’Connell. In U14 boys at Ballinacarriga, Timmie Gibbons won from Cian O’Callaghan and Daniel O’Sullivan won from Ethan Hurley. In U12 here, Conor O’Sullivan won from Michael Young. At Ardcahan in U14 there was victory for Bantry boy Kevin Courtney who edged out Drinagh’s Conor Lennon in a good contest. At Togher Cross in U14, Oisin Murray won from Josh O’Farrell and Tadg O’Farrell won from Conor Hourihane. In U14 at Kealkil, Shane Coughlan defeated Kieran Crowley. There was a cracking novice C championship contest at Togher Cross on Wednesday. Sam Kingston, Drumousta just got the better of his youthful rival, Danny Horgan, Inchicurka. In the same grade at Durrus, Brian Murray defeated Sean Cronin, last shot, for €300.
The South-West division heads for two three-way finals after an eventful weekend. David Hegarty’s five-star display at Shannonvale on Saturday evening where he defeated Johnny O’Driscoll by a bowl of odds for a €6,400 total was a stand-out. Hegarty’s seven to ‘Desmond’s cross’ represented excellent bowling for the road and it gave him the bowl of odds lead he held to the finish. O’Driscoll, who led the round-robin series, remains in contention with the championship now to be decided by a three-way shoot out between himself, Hegarty and Ger Connolly. It is a similar scenario in novice veteran with scores in abundance at Fisher’s Cross. The third contest between the trio comprised of Ger Fitzpatrick, Donal Desmond and Joe Tyner went off minus Fitzpatrick and resulted in a win for Kilbrittain man, Desmond. Injuries occur and Tyner is now doubtful for the final play-off still involving all three. In novice C at Lyre Ethan DeBurca defeated Ger Sheehy and in D at Shannonvale, Toss Ahern defeated Mark O’Donovan.
MIcheal O’Céallachain’s affinity with veteran and vintage championships show no signs of abating. Bol Chumann’s Honorary Secretary will represent his Gaeltacht division in the county rounds of the novice veteran championship after a barnstorming display at Macroom on Sunday where he eked out a hard-won last victory over the 2019 county winner in the grade, Paudie Murphy. A fiercely competitive battle turned when O’Céallachain made the most of a rare error by Murphy at the half-way point in their Sunday morning clash. They played for a total of €2,000. The Gaeltacht U18 semi-final clash at Ballyvourney had two top performers in opposition. Ailbhe O’Shea just edged out Rosin O’Riordan in this one and will play Kayla Healy in the decider. This was just one of several under-age scores at Ballyvourney mid-week. In U16, Kevin Kelleher won from Sean Og Coleman and Aodh Lynch won from Peter O’Sullivan. In the corresponding girls championship, Tara Twomey won from Hannah Scannell and Orla Murphy won from Nicole Buttimer. In Gaeltacht novice D at Terelton Micheal Murphy defeated Dan O’Mahony and, in C, Joe Madden won from Liam Kearney.
Dean Sexton is North Cork junior B champion after a bowl of odds victory over Stephen Murphy at Bweeng on Saturday. They played for a €1,400 total. In North Cork novice D at Kilcorney, Jack Oldham defeated Thomas Barrett. Back Kilcorney in a doubles contest, Mickey McAuliffe and Stephen O’Connell combined for a win from David Crowley/Matthew Bradley, last shot, for €460. In the novice veteran championship at Ballinagree, Dan O’Regan defeated Conor Roche. The North Cork region mourned the passing of Noel O’Callaghan and all scores mid-week were cancelled as a mark of respect. In the North-East division at Doneraile on Friday, Michael Murphy defeated Paddy O’Donnell by two bowls for €2,300.
The City junior A championship score at Whitechurch resulted in victory for Cian Boyle over Craig Moynahin. The City U18 final at Paddoes on Friday was won by Patrick McCarthy who defeated Jack O’Leary in the last shot of a good score. Back here on Friday, Eamonn Bowen and Noel Gould combined to defeat Tommy O’Sullivan and Maurice Connolly, last shot for €1,700 and in a further doubles, Colm O’Callaghan and Bernard O’Donovan won from Birol Kat and Declan O’Leary, last shot, for €1,200.