MURPHY HAS NO ANSWER TO MACKLES MAGIC
Events at Madden were the main focus for bowling followers over the St. Bridget’s Bank Holiday weekend and, while there were many highpoints for the sizable contingent who travelled northwards, it was the senior champion from the host county who again stole the limelight with a commanding performance in winning the weekend’s feature event. Thomas Mackle will not be relinquishing his place at the top any time soon after he saw off the latest challenge to his supremacy with a two-bowl victory over Aidan Murphy. A slack start by the Corkman contributed too to Mackle gaining a big early lead that amounted to a bowl of odds after three shots. Murphy recovered reasonably well in the next exchanges and reduced Mackle’s lead to a throw-out but was rocked back when the All-Ireland champion unleashed a searing drive from the point known as ‘the bus shelter’ that almost doubled his advantage. After seven to the ‘big tree’ Mackle was comfortably in front to the tune of two bowls of odds and he matched Murphy’s best through the remainder of the contest. The stakemoney at issue amounted to 34,400 (euro-sterling).
Mackle’s win put the brakes on what had been a successful Sunday for the visitors. Tim Young scored a hard-earned victory over former Ulster senior champion, Bryan O’Reilly, in the days opening score. It was a wonderfully even battle throughout with the lead changing hands on numerous occasions and mere metres separating them at all points. The Bantry man stuck solidly to his task and won that last vital shoot-out to take a deserved victory and the €12,800 total stake.
GOOD WINS FOR BANTRY'S TIM YOUNG AND THE SEXTON SISTERS FROM TIMOLEAGUE.
There was much interest in the ladies’ doubles set-to involving the Timoleague Sexton sisters, Hannah and Ellen, and the mixture of experience and youth represented by Dervla Mallon and Shannon McGuire in the Ulster camp. Well-matched for the first five, tips were practically level approaching the half-way point. A rare error on the Armagh side was capitalised on by the Sexton’s and a fine effort to the ‘school entrance’ by Hannah forged her side into a lead of almost a bowl of odds. Beating big tips, the Cork girls held their advantage to ‘Barrett’s’ and on to the ‘bus shelter’ and eventually won by the shot of odds. The total stakemoney amounted to €23,300.
Gavin Twohig was the Cork saviour on Saturday taking the visitors only win in the day’s second score. The Rossmore man rebounded in style from a defeat to David Shannon at Rosscarbery on the previous weekend to maintain the excellent record he holds in northern territory. His original opponent, Pete Carr, was forced to withdraw through injury and was replaced by All-Ireland junior B champion, Jake Cullen, who lit up Ballincurrig with a spectacular performance against Noel O’Regan, last July. For a €9,630 total, Twohig was the master from the early stages. Three outstanding opening shots had him a bowl in front at ‘the cottage’. Cullen was unlucky to see his third break off a good play, but here was no holding Twohig who followed up his opening blast with three more of the finest and in doing so doubled his lead. The Corkman reached the point known as the ‘school gate’ in eighth which represented excellent figures for the road. Cullen tried to stem the tide with an excellent cast to ‘Hughes’ bungalow’ but Twohig matched that too and held most of his lead. After ten throws his lead was unassailable.
The clincher for the northerners on Saturday came in the day’s last score. Ill-luck has dogged Gary Daly since a loss from a winning position against eventual champion, David Murphy, in last year’s senior championship at Whitechurch and it followed him to Madden last weekend when he went down to Colm Rafferty by the tiniest of margins for a €25,200 total stake. The Fermoy man staged two stirring comebacks in a score filled with drama but the result would not go his way. Rafferty opened with the proverbial piledriver and was a bowl of odds up after two. Daly responded in kind and two big ones to the ‘bus shelter’ had them practically on level tips. After a period of stalemate, Rafferty fired a ferocious effort through the ‘pipe corner’ and it was a shot that regained his bowl of odds lead. Again, Daly stormed back aided by a misplay from Rafferty and it was the Corkman who led by ten metres for the last shots. The Armagh man would not be denied as his final effort proved a winner when Daly fell hind by less than a metre.
It was a downer for the Cork camp coming as it did after Flor Crowley lost out to John Grimley for a €27,040 total. After an even start this too was a contest of many twists and turns. Crowley led by five metres after six and then rose a bowl of odds in the bowling to the ‘cottage’ when he was aided by a couple of slip-ups by Grimley. But the Armagh man rebounded with an unbelievable second last that wiped out Crowley’s lead and completely changed the course of the score. Now, with a seventy-metre advantage, Grimley went on to win by the last shot. Barry O’Reilly gave Armagh a winning start when he overcame Jim Coffey in the weekend’s opener on Saturday morning. This was an exciting duel that stayed in the melting pot right to the last shots. O’Reilly, an impressive All-Ireland junior C winner at Killea last September, certainly met his match in long-time campaigner, Coffey who was a shade unlucky not to come away with the spoils. The contest went for a combined 5,400 (euro-sterling) and it was nip and tuck for the opening five. O’Reilly made what looked like a decisive break with a massive sixth shot to ‘Barrett’s corner’ that Coffey only just beat in two leaving almost a bowl of odds in the Armagh man’s favour. There was a quick change when the leader erred with his eighth and Coffey lost no time in levelling. The Corkman led for the first time at the ‘bus shelter’ and was still in front with three to go. In a dramatic finale, O’Reilly went fifty metres ahead only to lose his advantage when Coffey fired a big second last. From hind bowl facing the line, O’Reilly fired the winner. All in all, a successful weekend for Bol Chumann Uladh who expressed their gratitude to all who participated in their Youth Development Fund-raiser.
On the home front there was plenty of action too on a first February Bank Holiday weekend. In club action at Grange, Gaeltacht’s Conor Creedon took the verdict from a three-way junior B contest with John Young, Drinagh and Enniskeane’s Brendan O’Neill. Creedon’s winning margin was a bowl of odds over both opponents for a €3,000 total stake.
There was a home win for Ger O’Driscoll at Newcestown where a consistent performance saw him get the better of Macroom’s Eoin O’Riordan for a €1,600 total.
DESMOND CUP WIN FOR O'DRISCOLL.
At Shannonvale, Johnny O’Driscoll put his previous week’s tournament final defeat to Timmie Murphy at Templemartin behind him to deliver a top-drawer performance against county junior B champion, Noel O’Regan. For a €16,000 total, O’Driscoll’s seven to ‘Desmond’s cross’ had him two bowls up. Three more of the highest order had him down past ‘Kingston’s’ and in complete control.
A good contest at Beal na mBlath on Saturday saw Damien Burns come from arrears to win an exciting battle with Joe Madden. For a €2,200 total, the north Cork man, Burns, was almost a bowl down to Madden at ‘Bradfield’s cross’ but big shots past ‘Dan Joe’s lane’ and on to the finish line gave him a last shot victory. At Ballinacurra, Upton, on Saturday, Mark Cahalane defeated Tommy Maloney for a €900 total and Tim Allen defeated Paudie Keohane in the return for the same stake. At Ballinacurra on Bank Holiday Monday, Peter Murray, Togher Cross, hit a big last shot over the line to deny City’s Craig Moynahin for a €4,200 total. The City men were in the winner’s enclosure in the return here, when Glanmire’s Denis Connolly delivered a top-class performance to deny Saturday’s Beal na mBlath winner, Damien Burns. The stake at issue in this one amounted to €4,000.
In the City at Curraheen, Anthony Crowley defeated Ivan Buchannon by two for €800. On Monday here, Paul Murphy scored a double defeating Ryan Buckley in two scores, bowl of odds and last shot, for €800 and €1,000.
At Jagoe’s Mills on Bank Holiday Monday, Brian Harrington defeated Chris Hayes, last shot, for €740 and Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Stephen Murphy, one bowl, for €900.
In the Firmount novice D tournament quarterfinals, Jerry Hubbard defeated Mickey McAuliffe, last shot, and Pat Joe Murphy defeated Ross Lynch, last shot for €1,120.
DEANE SHOW HIS POTENTIAL IN WEST CORK NOVICE C WIN.
Championship scores abounded in several regions. An interesting clash in the West Cork novice C championship had Jonathan Deane, Dunmanway, and Sean Cronin, Togher Cross, in opposition at Ballinacarriga. Both still very much in the teenage category, their inexperience showed in a hesitant opening as they played inward from ‘Manch bridge’. The contest opened up on the straight to ‘the creamery’ when Cronin lined a brilliant fifth to take a seventy-metre lead. Dean, whose outstanding showing in the recent trials earned him a place on Bol Chumann’s youths team for the forthcoming European championships in May, fired a couple of big ones and levelled by ‘Hehir’s’. The Dunmanway youth then took a commanding lead with a few excellent deliveries only for Cronin to level once more with a fine effort to ‘McSweeney’s’. The closing stages belonged to Deane, whose power enabled him escape from a tight right-hand play and go on and win by a bowl. From teenage prodigies to the other end of the age graphic, West Cork championships bear testimony that road bowling is truly a life-long pastime. Eighty plus and going strong, Drimoleague trailblazer, Fachtna Keane, has still got what it takes after winning a cracking novice D championship contest with Dunmanway newcomer, Finny Carroll, at Togher Cross on Sunday. For an €800 total, Fachtna held a bowl lead throwing the last shots but had to show all his resolve to beat in two a superb final effort from his Doheny rival. Still in West Cork championships, Eamonn Crowley defeated Richard Kingston in novice D at Kealkil on Saturday.
In North Cork novice D at Bweeng on Saturday, Anthony Cullinane defeated Paul Walsh for a €600 stake. Here on Monday, also in the novice D championship, Will Harrington defeated Evan Murphy and Adrian O’Connor defeated Barry Murphy.
Various trials events were held at the weekend.
GIRL'S TRIALS FOR NEWCASTLE.
At Castletownkenneigh on Saturday, Bol Chumann’s ladies committee had the first of two trial sessions for the forthcoming U12/U14 inter-provincials at Newcastle, Co. Dublin. Two teams of four boys and girls will be selected to represent Cork (Munster) at the event. County champion, Jena Healy and City’s very promising Caolinn Callanan were selected on the girls U14 team based on Saturday’s results with two to join them from the second trials session. Aimee McCarthy, Drimoleague, and Anna Deane, Enniskeane, will be on the girls U12 team with two more to join. Trials for Boys 12 and U14 will be held at Castletownkenneigh on this coming Saturday 10th.
Gaeltacht have their teams selected for the February 26th inter-regional youths team finals at The Phale Road. A big turnout for the trials at Ballyvourney on Sunday morning have seen a boys team comprised of Ross O’Brien U14, Kieran O’Sullivan U12 and Colm Kelleher U10 taking part. There will be high hopes for the girls too with Kayla Healy U16, Cliona O’Brien U14 and county runner-up, Lilly Scannell U12 all involved.