Grange held the crowd on Sunday with a three-way junior B decider first on the card followed by an intriguing Willie Whelton Cup first rounder involving seasoned senior campaigner, Aidan Murphy and the grades newest arrival, the 2022 intermediate champion, Patrick Flood. Following his championship success, it has been a difficult transition to senior ranks for the youthful Flood and this was another contest where a stuttering start left with too much ground to make up. Well-backed in the €10,000 total stake, he could have made more of an average opener by Murphy, and it was a similar story with the second exchanges as another opportunity was scorned. A misplay with his third had the consequence of him going a bowl down to Murphy by the time they reached ‘Holland’s wall’ and it was the margin that would separate them at the end. The 2019 senior champion, Murphy was cagey with ‘perley ques’ around the ‘school cross’ and showed his class with a cracking bowl away from O’Sullivan’s bend and up to ‘John Bill’s’. Flood, to his credit, kept challenging but could not get vital shots to settle with the result that the bowl of odds stayed between them. The morning three-way produced an exciting finish and one to savour for Shannonvale man, Ger Connolly. Darragh Dempsey started this one in style but, surprisingly, many punter’s fancy, the crafty City campaigner, Anthony Gould, was well off the pace. Connolly overhauled Dempsey’s early lead at the ‘white house’ before the Carbery youth took charge again with a super brace on the downward stretch. Dempsey held a bowl lead on Connolly and two on Gould when he reached the ‘school cross’ in seven but a couple of misplays on the rise to ‘DeBarra’s’ would cost him dearly. When he crossed right at the novice line, Connolly grabbed his first lead. It proved a major turning point, but more drama awaited as Dempsey, forty back, for the last shots, lined a super cast that looked like snatching back the lead. Connolly held his nerve and beat it with an equally good reply. The three-way stake amounted to €4,800.
The Mother Hegarty Cup senior tournament at Lyre on Saturday delivered another exciting finish as Gary Daly’s expertly delivered last shot deprived David Murphy of a place in the final. Aidan Murphy had similarly dispatched Seamus Sexton with a late charge a few weeks back and it looked to be heading for an all-Brinny decider before North-East’s Daly, at the most vital juncture, regained the lead he held for a good portion of the score. He was the underdog against the King of the Roads champion but made the steadier start rising fifty metres on Murphy’s opener which broke right off the play. Daly held that advantage after the second exchanges but was reeled in when Murphy lined an exceptional third. The Fermoy man pulled away again in the next segment only to lose the lead for the first time when Murphy unleashed a massive seventh shot past ‘Crowley’s entrance’. They matched each other to the corner and again in the bowling across the double bends. Up at ‘McCarthy’s’ Daly was marginally back in front. Then Murphy looked to have made a decisive break as he regained the lead with a good effort past the ‘ash tree’ and he followed up well too to take a thirty-metre advantage for the last shots. Daly found the gears to fire a score-winning blast that hugged the left for a huge distance, and it earned a final spot when Murphy’s brave attempt fell thirty short. They played for a €5,300 total.
The vintage grade progressed although the scheduled A final between Martin Connolly and Ted Hegarty billed for Terelton did not go ahead as planned. Carbery’s Donal Harnedy won a thrilling section B semi-final at Beal na mBlath from Joe Walsh to advance to a meeting with Micheál O’Callaghan or Liam O’Driscoll. Grenagh man, Walsh, who won section C last year, was on the hindfoot to Harnedy’s fine opening brace but lined an impeccable third to take the lead. The Skibb man was back in front by ‘Bradfield’s cross’ and held what looked like handy law, clear sight at the last bend facing the line. From a poor stand, Walsh nearly pulled it out of the fire with a spectacular final effort. Harnedy kept his composure and beat a formidable mark to ensure his place in the B section final. Pat Scanlon is another going well in vintage. After a string of victories in the section C (East), the Carrignavar man defeated Kevin O’Sullivan, Crookstown, who had eliminated a stream of likely contenders on the western side. Played on the lower road to New Tipperary, Scanlon overhauled O’Sullivan’s early lead with big shots on the ‘straight’ and eventually rose the bowl of odds which set him up for victory. They played for a €960 total.
In the other championship which remains to be completed a junior ladies three-way semi-final at The Bog Road saw victory go to East Cork’s Anna Hurley. Anna won a good contest with Mid Cork’s Siobhan Kelleher and City’s Karen O’Callaghan. She will play Margaret Sexton in the upcoming decider.
The novice E competition is winding down in regions across the county. West Cork completed theirs on Sunday at Drimoleague and here in the A section, Andy McCarthy won from Johnny Hurley. The B section was a three-way play-off and Niall Forbes was the victor here coming in just ahead of Liam O’Brien and Jack McCarthy. North Cork’s novice E’s are progressing to the final stages. In quarterfinal scores at Bweeng on Saturday, Barry Twomey won from Kieran Buckley, last shot, for €880 and Willie Murphy got the better of Aaron Doherty, also last shot, for €980. In return scores at Bweeng, Mark Sexton scored a double winning from both Aidan O’Brien and Jack Oldham for stakes of €340 and €360. In a return score at Firmount following the vintage contest, Paul Walsh won from Bernard O’Callaghan, one bowl, for €500. There was a big turnout at Drinagh on Sunday morning for the West Cork’s regional youths’ trials with upwards of thirty participating.
Beal na mBlath and Dunderrow bowlers enjoined for a day’s bowling at the latter’s home road on Saturday. The visitors had the upper hand winning three of the four scores played but all were tight affairs with last shot outcomes being the order of the day. David Desmond with Paul Twomey won the opener from John O’Mahony/Mark Coleman, last shot, for €1,300; Joe Madden then teamed up with Dylan Galvin for a win over Declan and Ronan O’Donovan for €1,200; Tim Allen and Michael Desmond won from Noel Hegarty/Gary O’Sullivan, last shot, for €1,000 and Gerry O’Donovan defeated Denis Mangan, last shot, for €1,000.
Bol Chumann Honorary Secretary, Michéal O’Céallachain, attended the North Cork regional AGM at Stuake Hall on November 28th and heard comprehensive reports from the region’s senior officers. Secretary, David Hubbard, submitted an extensive overview of the year’s activities that included championships in ten adult and eight under-age grades plus the novice E competition which has introduced many new members. The undoubted highlights were Seamus Sexton’s senior men’s Gold Medal winning performance at the European Championships in Meldorf in May and Denise Murphy’s County and All-Ireland winning campaign in the intermediate lady’s championship. In the youth’s sector, Conor Lucey and Jamie Kelleher, were also in Germany and made a big contribution to Bol Chumann’s teams in the three disciplines. Ruairi O’Connell and Mark Burke were other big winners for North Cork capturing novice D and junior veteran county titles respectively. Also noteworthy were the championship campaigns of county finalists, Veronica O’Mahony (Senior lady’s); Juliette Murphy (intermediate lady’s); Chloe Hubbard (u14 girls); Seamus Sexton (senior men) and Jonathan O’Callaghan (u14 boys). Chairman, Vincent Kiely thanked all who helped with the smooth running of the various events and treasurer, Willie Murphy reported the regions finances in a healthy state. All officers were returned unopposed. Vincent Kiely remains as chairman for 2023; Andy O’Callaghan is vice-chair; David Hubbard is Secretary; Willie Murphy is treasurer and PRO; Abbey Lehane is Registrar; Damien Burns is Safety Officer. Micheal O’Ceallachain thanked the region for their efficient handling of an extensive and varied championship programme and for their attendance and participation at Executive meetings.
The overall grading of players for the 2023 season was efficiently expedited at Bandon Town Hall on Wednesday 30th. Registrar, Billy McAuliffe and Secretary, Micheal O’Ceallachain oversaw proceedings, and all regions were in attendance with player affiliation figures indicating strong membership participation for the coming year. Regional grading was largely adhered to with, as is now the norm, the vast bulk of players allocated to the novice grades. While it presents a lopsided appearance to regional championships the argument has been validly made that the many novice grades ensure that affiliations have remained constant and even increased in recent times. A small number of players from the lower grades were moved up a notch at the three-way meeting. A significant development did see the promotion of two of the game’s top juniors up to intermediate and few will quibble with the inclusion of Mid Cork’s Tom O’Donovan and South-West’s Tom O’Sullivan in the games second tier. O’Donovan won a very competitive Mid Cork junior A championship this year and is a former county U16 champion while, O’Sullivan, is a multiple under-age champion in recent years. They join Andrew O’Callaghan, Raymond Ryan, Billy McAuliffe, Tim Young, Donal O’Riordan, Brian Wilmot, Willie O’Donovan, Paul Buckley, Edmund Sexton, Eamonn Bowen, John Creedon, Wayne Parkes and Wayne Calnan in the fifteen-man starting line-up for the 2023 intermediate championship.