International Road trails for men and boys U18 were held at Castletownkenneigh on Sunday morning last. The 9.00am start did not deter a sizable number from both categories from staking a claim for places on teams for Germany 2024 and competition was rife with many of the game’s leading lights again to the fore. With figures from the accompanying Dutch Moors and German Loft trials also taken into account, ten will make the cut in the senior men’s category with two from Ulster completing the line up for next May. Figuring strong on Sunday morning were, James O’Donovan, who just headed the reigning European Champion, Seamus Sexton with three-time Gold Medal winner David Murphy also showing up well. Michael Bohane, Tim Young, Wayne Parkes, Aidan Murphy, Martin Coppinger Killian Kingston and Michael Murphy are all making strong bids for selection based on Sunday’s figures. In the youths sector, Gaeltacht’s Cathal Creedon was tops while his regional clubmate Liam Murphy, City’s Anthony Crowley and Mid’s Daniel Wilmot are close enough. Also in the mix for selection are Sean Cronin, Tadg Cooney, Adam Baker and Tadg and Ben Cooney. The second Road trial session will take place on Sunday October 15 with the third and final run on October 22nd. Two have already been held in the Dutch Moors and German Loft disciplines with a third pencilled in for November 5.
The strong attendance indicates that the road bowling trials are where it’s at for most and a good turn-out in the youths sector indicates a strong representation again following the successful expedition in 2022 when the Darragh Dempsey led team were triumphant. Four from the U18 category will be selected with Ulster’s dual champion, Oisin Gribben, the most likely to join his Cork teammates. The 17th European Championships will take place under the auspices of Friesiche Klooschiefserverband (FKV), the forty thousand strong German bowling association, at the North Sea resort of Newharlingerseil on Friday 10, Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 of May 2024. The team will depart Cork for Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam on Tuesday May 7. The parade of competing nations will take place at Newharlingerseil on Ascension Thursday May 9; The Road Bowling championships are on Friday 10, Dutch Moors on Saturday 11 and German Loft on Sunday 12.
The North Cork division scored a notable double when winning both U12 and U14 girls finals at a damp Castletownkenneigh on Saturday. Chloe Hubbard and Jena Healy emerged triumphant from two hard-fought deciders with their Gaeltacht and South-West counterparts, Lilly Scannell and Grace Ahern. First off was the U12 shoot-out with Chloe and Lilly showing their paces in an exciting opening sequence. Playing down the Enniskeane line from the triangle start-point before a fine gathering, the Gaeltacht champion took the opening throws before a terrific third shot exchange got the crowd buzzing. Chloe unleashed an excellent cast that looked like giving her a commanding lead only for Lilly, with a beautiful delivery, to beat it by sixty metres. Chloe, an emerging talent of considerable promise who came very close last year, semi-finalist in U12 and county runner-up in U14, would not be denied on this occasion. She took her first lead with a speedy fourth when Lilly’s reply went right too soon and followed up with two excellent efforts to the ‘hollies’ at which point she was a bowl of odds clear. Her Ballyvourney rival, a supremely stylish performer who will be eligible for the grade again 2024, kept it competitive until a second bowl of odds came between them. Almost a quarter of a century on it was an interesting coming together of two great bowling traditions. Chloe Hubbard is daughter of bowling’s Millenium senior champion, Catriona O’Rourke, while her opponent, the Ulster champion on that memorable day in Kealkil, Susan Cullen-Scannell, was also present at Castletownkenneigh on Saturday supporting her niece, Lilly.
New U14 champion, Jena Healy, took a while to get going in her decider with Grace Ahern. Playing the return route, Grace took all the early shots and, with a little better luck, might have held more than the thirty metres advantage she had after four. Well played efforts did not get justice and the contest remained close for the opening quarter. Jena, from Banteer, made a huge break with a smashing fifth which gave her a first lead and she didn’t look back thereafter. Three more in similar vein yielded a bowl of odds advantage by the half-way mark. Grace, a granddaughter indeed of Tom Ahern who had a central role in the founding committee of Bol Chumann na hEireann in 1954, showed spirit and determination in attempting to force her way back into contention, but with little going right and Jena, using her lengthy Mackle stye run-in to great effect and now playing with assurance, the odds increased to two bowls by the last quarter. Bol Chumann’s James O’Driscoll congratulated the four finalists and complimented all on the large turn-out who came in support. Still on the ladies, another Saturday downpour forced the cancellation of the eagerly awaited rematch of Ellen Sexton and Ailbhe O’Shea at Ballinacurra, Upton. This ladies junior semi-final is a repeat of their thrilling Beal na mBlath U18 semi-final which Ellen won in a very close finish. It will be re-fixed for a later date. The second semi went ahead at Clondrohid on Sunday evening. Both Siobhan Kelleher (mid Cork) and Rachel Lucey (North) had been showing excellent form in the inter-regional rounds and they had a good battle at the Gaeltacht venue. Siobhan’s bowling through the middle third was decisive and it is she who will contest the decider in a few weeks.
Vintage grade scores abound as the season winds down. In section A Chris O’Donovan plays Christy Mullins with the winner meeting Eugene O’Sullivan. Mick Young has withdrawal from his semi-final clash with Jerry Murphy leaves the Templemartin man through to that sectional final. Section B (A) for those in the western side of the county, has narrowed down with several rounds taking place in recent weeks. David Walsh was in powerful form in eliminating Connie Connolly at The Pike on Saturday week and looks the one to beat after another five-star showing at Ballygurteen on Sunday last where he defeated Carbery contender, Liam O’Driscoll. For an €1,100 stake, O’Driscoll put it up to Walsh firing two blistering opening shots on the inward route and rising the bones of a bowl of odds in the process. Walsh’s response was electric as he lined a succession of piledrivers on the flat past ‘oakmount’ and on to the ‘women’s lane’ that not only wiped out the deficit but gave him an unassailable two-bowl cushion. O’Driscoll kept up a strong challenge but to no avail. Walsh will also have Carbery opposition in his next engagement when he meets Donal Harnedy also a winner at Ballygurteen on Sunday. The Skibb man who has a strong record in the competition and was overall B winner last year had a tough battle with Kealkil’s Patsy O’Sullivan in the first of the Ballygurteen scores. Little separated them for much of the way before a big finish by the Carbery man gave him a bowl of odds victory. Section B group B comprising of players from Gaeltacht, North, North-East, East and City, is also down to two after scores at the weekend. Looking strong here is Ballyvourney’s Micheal O’Céallachain who combines his role as Runai Bol Chumann with a prodigious activity on the road. O’Céallachain won the vintage grade outright in 2020 and a strong campaign in the current championship has him in the overall semi-final. He got through a tough battle with Tallow’s Liam Barry at Bweeng on Sunday last. For a €2,000 total, Barry went a bowl clear after three but O’Céallachain levelled by half-way and finished strong. The Ballyvourney man will play Paddy Kinsella in the overall semi-final. Kinsella defeated Willie Cronin at Doneraile on Sunday last.
Section C, the larger of the three groupings, is also down to the closing rounds. In the A side scores rained off on Sunday week were refixed for last weekend. At Drimoleague on Saturday, Jim Cronin came from arrears to deny Liam Hurley. For a €700 total, Hurley made a good start rising a bowl of odds with his opening throw but undid his good work with a few misplays in the next exchanges. Cronin took charge with good bowling to the lines and won by the shot. Next up for the Togher Cross man is a meeting with Brendan O’Sullivan. Jack Cahalane maintained his good run with victory over Harry Russell in the all-Carbery clash at Bauravilla and will now play the winner of O’Sullivan/Cronin. In the same category, Jerry Connolly defeated D. D. Carroll at The Clubhouse to set up a meeting with Pat Joe Connolly and Batty Foley defeated Timmie Hennessy a result that sees the Crookstown man going in against Donal O’Sullivan, The Pike, in the next round. In section C group B at Templemichael on Saturday week, Donie Connolly got the better of former senior Mick O’Driscoll (B) and Mick Cahill won from Willie O’Donoghue. On Sunday last at The Bog Road Mick Murphy, Donoughmore won from Tadg Cotter and will play Con O’Donovan in the next round.
Novice E scores continue around the county. In West Cork at Drimoleague, Paul Colgan was in fine form in his win over John Daly and at Drinagh, John O’Donovan won a tight last shot score from Padraigh Crowley. In Gaeltacht novice E scores at Clondrohid, Stephen Murphy defeated Thomas Lucey and Pat Healy won from Ray Fallon. In North Cork novice E, at Firmount, Luke Dennehy defeated Willie Murphy for €600 and Barry Meade defeated Kevin Finnegan for the same stake.
In tournament action, Kieran Murphy came from arrears to defeat Mick Hurley by a bowl of odds at Ballinacurra, Upton for a €2,400 total and in the Jerh Cotter Cup at Terelton, Kevin O’Sullivan defeated Shane Healy by a bowl for €1,140. Back the road at Terelton, Niall Murphy defeated Barry Coughlan, last shot, for €1,240. Shane Shannon won the Durrus tournament final from Finbarr Lynch, Ballinacarriga. At Carrignavar, Andrew O’Leary defeated Shane Collins by a bowl, for €3,400 and, in a return here, Maurice Connolly defeated Finbarr Cooney (Jun) for €2,400. Back the road at Bweeng after the vintage contest, Padraigh O’Brien defeated Paul Walsh, last shot, for €940. There was a win for Ballineen man Eoin McCarthy at Curraheen where he defeated East Cork’s Sean O’Leary in the last shot for a €3,400 total. Back here, Noel Hegarty defeated Oliver Searls last shot for €800. At Jagoe’s Mills, Brendan Hurley defeated Colm O’Regan, last shot, for €1,080 and Mark Coleman defeated Bernard O’Callaghan, one bowl, for €2,000.