Reaction from the Willie Whelton Cup, International Fund Score at Grange, some Novice D Championship scores along with all the other action
The Willie Whelton Cup tournament in Grange, now in its third running, resumed on Saturday last and it looks as if it will take something special to break James O’Donovan’s hold on the imposing trophy. In Saturday’s competition semi-final, the Bandon man made a winning return from a shoulder injury that has curtailed his activities including training for the forthcoming European Championships. Fermoy’s Gary Daly, a man whose form has lit up West Cork venues such as The Marsh Road and Bantry in the recent past, was in the opposing camp, but O’Donovan once again mastered the Grange road in exemplary style coming in a two-bowl winner having dominated throughout. Daly was uncharacteristically off with his opening throw and O’Donovan didn’t wait around lining one of his specials that immediately left him just fifteen metres short of a bowl of odds ahead. The full shot of odds came between them after four before Daly found some form lining a big fifth and seventh shots that threatened a rally. O’Donovan’s seventh enjoyed the rub of the green as it rolled off a break all the way to ‘Hegarty’s wall’. Daly’s task was looking insurmountable after this, and it became moreso when O’Donovan fired two exceptional shots to ‘Hodnett’s house’. Now two bowls ahead O’Donovan coasted home despite not finishing with the same aplomb that he showed at the start. Winner of the previous two tournaments, the Bandon man now aims for a hat-trick of successes when he takes on Martin Coppinger in the competition decider later in the year. The stakemoney in Saturday’s semi-final amounted to €7,600.
At Grange, also on Saturday, in an International Fund Score, Carbery’s Darragh Dempsey scored a bowl of odds win over South-West’s Johnny O’Driscoll for a €6,100 total. Dempsey, part of Bol Chumann’s youths panel for the Meldorf games in May, countered O’Driscoll’s excellent cast from ‘John Bill’s’ with a monstrous sixth shot that got away with a seriously tight left-hand play to run to sight at ‘the school cross’. It brought the Skibb youth from forty metres hind to a bowl ahead and it was a lead he held to the finish. International fund-raising was central to a Lyre meeting of Gavin Twohig and John Creedon who threw off for a sizable €14,000. This score marked a big return to form for Rossmore man Twohig who gave his best performance since his regrade to junior ranks. Seven shots to sight at ‘Crowley’s bend’ set him on his way to a two-bowl victory. A junior B shoot-out at Lyre on Sunday week saw Drinagh’s John Young keep a winning run intact with a hard-earned victory over new South-West entrant, Denis O’Sullivan. This was going O’Sullivan’s way in the early stages as big fourth and fifth shots yielded a sixty-metre lead. Young closed the gap and by ‘Crowley’s entrance’ it was a level contest. The bowling across the double bends and up to ‘McCarthy’s’ saw Young forge in front with two excellent deliveries and, when he followed up with another brace from the top drawer, a hundred metres separated the tips in his favour. The Drinagh man powered home a big fore bowl winner. The stake at issue amounted to €4,800. Back the road here, Ger Hegarty of the host club made a winning return when he defeated Denis O’Sullivan (Sen), last shot, for €1,000. Paul Walsh of Upton won the Beal na mBlath three-way final on Sunday last defeating John Anthony Murphy and Anthony Broderick both by a bowl of odds. For a €2,700 total, Walsh’s winning salvo came with four exceptional shots to the point known as ‘the bulls gate’. After a tight contest to half-way, these put daylight between himself and his rivals and, when he ‘opened’ the last bend with another piledriver, the winner’s prize was assured.
Bantry bowling club had four-score programme on Sunday and it started well for the locals. Tim Young added another win to his growing tally for 2022 when he edged out Brian Wilmot in the first of the day. It was a cracking contest played for a €3,400 total with Young holding sway in most of the early exchanges. Wilmot came with a ferocious second last to come ahead, but the local man had the last say firing a magnificent final effort that Wilmot despite a valiant attempt missed by twenty. Back the road, Sean O’Leary got the better of Carbery’s Colm Crowley for a €3,000 total before the big-hitting Edmund Sexton and Donal O’Riordan took issue for also for a €3,400 stake. Both men held the ascendancy at different points as the contest went to the last shots. Sexton took the victory from that vital exchange. In the final score of the day, Carbery’s Patrick Crowley defeated Ronan O’Mahony, Durrus, in the last shot for a €3,000 total. At Ballinacurra, Upton, on Sunday, Adrian Buttimer defeated Bryan O’Halloran, last shot, for €2,500 and back in, Tim Cahalane got the better of Deccie O’Mahony, last shot, for €1,000.
Mid Cork were quick out of traps in taking advantage of the extra daylight hour with a selection of mid-week novice D championship scores. Ballinacurra, Upton hosted a few and it was here on Monday, that Dean Cowhig won his opening round contest with Cian Healy. A bowl of odds separated them at the end and there was a €340 stake at issue. On Tuesday at Ballinacurra, also in D, Bernard O’Callaghan won from Graham Geasley; on Thursday, Mark Coleman defeated Tim Allen for a €2,140 total and on Friday, Brian Crowley defeated Martin Cronin, last shot, for €1,000. At Jagoe’s Mills on Wednesday, Oisin McCarthy defeated Denis McCarthy and at Templemartin on Friday, Kinsale’s Pat Broderick, down a notch from the higher novice grades, won by a mere two metres from the luckless Teddy Murphy. At Castletownkenneigh on Friday Tommy O’Rourke won from Cormac Desmond. In U16 from 2021 Conor O’Donovan won from Daniel Wilmot at Jagoe’s. Mid Cork championship action continued through the weekend. At Templemartin on Sunday, Eugene Courtney defeated Jerome O’Mahony, last shot, for €1,000.
West Cork were on the move early too with Durrus hosts to an entertaining Tuesday evening novice D joust between Martin Dullea and Shane O’Donovan. Martin, an All-Ireland winner in bowling’s Unlimited championships, emerged the victor from a tight contest. At Drinagh on Saturday, in the novice C championship, John O’Sullivan, Durrus overcame Darren Cronin Bantry, and in D, Jan Tessyman advanced when Rickard O’Donovan was unfortunately forced to concede through injury. There was a win for the home side at Ardcahan where clubman, Brian Murray, got the better of Drinagh’s Keith Jagoe in a last shot set-to played for a €600 total. Also here, in novice C, Martin O’Donovan defeated last years D winner, Brendan Burke by a bowl of odds for €800 and, in D, Andy O’Sullivan won from Richard Kingston. The West Cork girls U18 championship got going at Ballinacarriga and local contender, Emer O’Connell had a hard-earned win from Grace Hickey to progress to the next round. At Ballinacarriga too in novice B, Alan Keane defeated Seamus O’Sullivan (K) by a bowl for €500. There was a turn-up at Drinagh in the U18 boy’s championship. Local player, Eoin Hurley, hit top form in an excellent win over Danny O’Donovan. In boys U14 at Durrus, Oisin Murray won from Kevin Courtney.
The South-West junior B championship has a ten-score round-robin format before the finalists are determined. Lyre are hosts for all and the opening joust on Saturday last saw the first winners point go the way of Denis O’Sullivan. Castleventry’s Darren Santry gave it a good go keeping it level in good bowling to ‘Crowley’s bend’. When he fired a splendid second last it looked to be his day, but O’Sullivan beat it and then won the vital last exchange. Santry has scores with Seamus O’Sullivan, Johnny O’Driscoll and Ger Connolly to re-ignite his challenge. Score two in the championship took place on Sunday and here Johnny O’Driscoll put his Saturday defeat at Grange behind him to gain the winning point from last year’s C winner, Seamus O’Sullivan. O’Driscoll led all the way in a one bowl win. In other South-West championship scores at Timoleague in novice D, Brian Harrington defeated Jack O’Driscoll and in novice C at Grange, Eric Harrington won from Denis O’Donovan.
Baile Mhuirne hosted three U18 Gaeltacht championship scores. Liam Murphy won from Darragh Murphy; Cathal Creedon won from Jason McCarthy and Ben Herlihy defeated Jack O’Donoghue. In the novice veteran championship, Patrick Moynahin defeated Michéal O’Callaghan at Kilnamartyra and here too in novice D Cian O’Callaghan won from Martin Kelleher. At Terelton in novice veteran, Donncha Lucey defeated Colm O’Riordan. In the City junior A at Whitechurch, Craig Moynahin won from Trevor O’Meara in what would be considered an upset of sizable proportions. O’Meara has a back-door chance to get back in the title race with a shoot-out against Michael O’Donoghue. In junior B at Carrigaline, Peter Nagle of the City, an All-Ireland junior A champion in 2016, defeated Michael Faulkner. Also in junior B, Declan Murphy defeated Adrian Callanan.
Timoleague’s Hannah Sexton was among a galaxy of sports stars at The Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Awards on Friday night last. Hannah, selected on the back of a magnificent All-Ireland U18 and Munster intermediate double success, has proved a wonderful ambassador for bowling through a stellar under-age career and will soon begin her quest for a senior title as the 2022 championships gathers momentum. Special guest, Ronnie Whelan, gave the sport copious mention as he regaled the audience with anecdotes of his own exploits with the ‘28’ when visiting Drinagh a few years back as part of the Liverpool legends tour. We extend congratulations to outright winners Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy.
The Bol Fada festival at Keady/Tassagh is the next major north-south event on the bowling calendar. A full programme is in place for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend with the Joe McVeigh Cup again the headlining the programme. Mick Nugent has forwarded a comprehensive ‘clar’ which will be published next week. The McVeigh Cup has the following enticing line-up for Saturday’s semi-finals. Thomas Mackle v Bryan O’Reilly or Colm Rafferty; David Murphy v Arthur McDonagh.