David Murphy escaped with a last shot victory from a gruelling contest at Whitechurch with Gary Daly. On a sweltering Saturday at the City venue everything was in order for a cracking set-to and the pair duly delivered an opening phase that represented all that is best in senior bowling. On a road where Daly has produced some of his more electrifying moments, the Fermoy man did well to come within twenty metres of Murphy’s lengthy opening shot. A big one from Daly was again beaten by Murphy but the Brinny man could do nothing with a tremendous third from Daly falling fifty behind. The high-level exchanges continued when Murphy lined an explosive fourth on the downward slope to ‘bula’ only for Daly to do likewise and beat a formidable mark by eighty metres. Daly was controlled and accurate and increased his lead to a bowl of odds in the bowling to ‘Downey’s line’ with a brilliant ninth shot instrumental in securing this advantage. Murphy’s eleventh was a shade unlucky, but Daly spurned a chance to go for broke and fell hind for the bowl when his tenth went left all too soon. It was the beginning of a slackening off in the assured play that had the Fermoy man in such a commanding position and Murphy made more inroads in the shots around the ‘farm’. At the dreaded ‘devil’s bend’ Daly regained the bowl lead but then lost ground to a great fifteenth shot of Murphy’s. In the tentative closing exchanges Daly inexplicably lost the lead when his seventeenth crossed to the left and Murphy had his chance for glory when the long-time leader missed the finish line with his next. The Mid Cork man’s last had enough in the tank to secure a win that did not look likely for much of the contest. The semi-final permutations are many. Should they avoid each other in the semi-final draw an all-Murphy final, as occurred in 2008 and 09, is a possibility. Martin Coppinger and James O’Donovan will have no truck with such a scenario as an intriguing finale unfolds. The total stake at Whitechurch amounted to €8,200.
Three county junior B quarterfinals have set the stage for the semi-final line-up of a championship that has captured the imagination of the bowling public. There was a packed road at Lyre on Thursday for the meeting of City’s Noel Gould and Carbery’s Shane Shannon and it produced a turn-up for the books when the veteran campaigner from Dublin Hill turned the tables on his youthful rival from the Brahalish. When Gould complicated his run-in and fired an opening shot of the extremely short variety the omens weren’t good for the City champion. Any expectations of a comfortable evening for the Carbery camp were quickly banished when Gould put that blunder firmly behind to deliver a commanding performance that had him well in the ascendancy by the half-way point. The City man had wiped out the early deficit and led by the third shot and, with the Carbery champion below his best, he increased his odds in successive exchanges before going a bowl and metres with it up following a massive sixth past ‘Crowley’s wall’. Shannon had it under the bowl with a big ninth to the bend and was presented with a golden opportunity when Gould missed across with his tenth. The Carbery champion didn’t make it to ‘McCarthy’s bend’ with his eleventh and with it went his county hopes. He did finish well bringing the score to the last shot, but Gould was untroubled in beating the line with his fifteenth and booking a semi-final slot against West Cork’s Noel O’Regan. The stake money at Lyre amounted to €5,400 and the sizable Carbery following were in the winner’s enclosure in the return when John Cahalane eclipsed his long-time rival Jim Coffey for a whopping €20,400 total stake.
Togher Cross exponent O’Regan was pitted against a seasoned and competitive rival in Timmie Murphy who had produced big performances in winning the North East championship. At Castletoenkenneigh on Friday, before another big gathering, O’Regan made a blazing start firing two big openers that had him over a hundred metres clear. The West Cork champion didn’t maintain that high standard and Murphy found his groove with big third and fourth shots to narrow the gap to twenty. Magnificent exchanges followed as they played to the ‘round tower’ with O’Regan beating a massive fifth to hold a slender lead but then coming hind of another big one as the lead changed for the first time. Murphy then missed a chance of increasing his lead and was left to rue when O’Regan’s ninth got the vital touch to go sight at ‘Pynne’s corner’. Murphy could do little from his stand and, when O’Regan followed with a devastating tenth, the semi-final spot was in the hands of the West Cork champion. The stake money at Castletownkenneigh amounted to €10,400. His match-up with Noel Gould this weekend at a venue to be decided will be a crowd-puller.
On to Curraheen on Sunday afternoon for the meeting of South West’s Johnny O’Driscoll and East Cork’s Michael Wall. For a €2,000 total stake, they matched each other and exchanged the lead with two big opening shots before O’Driscoll fired an incredible third to ‘Ballinora cross’. Wall missed well in two and the South West man’s lead now bordered on two bowls of odds. A good rally in the bowling to the ‘riding school’ gave Wall a glimmer when the margin halved but a poor fourteenth derailed his challenge and O’Driscoll was comfortable in a two-bowl win. He awaits the winner of North’s Dean Sexton and Mid Cork’s Noel O’Donovan, who meet this week at Inchigeelagh.
Markers are being laid down in junior veteran as the county rounds hot up. Former senior champion Phillip O’Donovan brought his regional good form to the county rounds with a comfortable win over South-West’s regional representative, Kieran O’Driscoll at Curraheen on Sunday morning. A blistering start by the East Cork man gave him a two-bowl cushion which he didn’t relinquish. O’Donovan will have his mettle tested in the semi-final round when he takes on the winner of North’s Mark Burke and Mid’s John Shorten. This clash at Inchigeelagh is eagerly anticipated with last years county winner Burke defending against 2019 All-Ireland winner and also former senior standard bearer Shorten. On the other side of the junior veteran county draw, Andrew O’Leary staked his claim with a strong performance at Castletownkenneigh where he ended the hopes of West Cork’s Chris O’Donovan. For a €1,000 total stake, O’Leary, the North East divisional champion, won by a comprehensive two bowl margin. He awaits the winner of this week’s Lyre clash of City’s Noel Gould and Carbery’s Jimmy Collins.
In the novice veteran category, the county rounds have turned up a few surprises. At Templemartin on Saturday evening in a preliminary round score North East’s Eugene Hanley ended the aspirations of South West’s Ger Fitzpatrick. Hanley, from Corrin, Fermoy, was hugely impressive in this contest whereas Fitzpatrick was below his regional winning form. They played for a total of €800. Next up for Hanley is a meeting with Carbery’s Sidney Shannon at Terelton. Gaeltacht’s Michéal O’Callaghan is firmly in the mix at the business end. Facing a tough adversary in City’s Declan O’Leary at Kilcorney on Saturday evening, the Baile Bhuirne man was consistent in a two-bowl win. In the semi-final he will meet the winner of Hanley/Shannon at a venue to be decided. West Cork’s Connie Connolly and North’s Dan O’Regan meet in another quarterfinal with the winner playing either Mid Cork’s Mick Murphy or East’s Paul Butler in the second novice county veteran semi.
Mallow’s Ciara Buckley is through to the intermediate final after a stirring battle with Hannah Cronin at Clondrohid on Friday evening. Ciara led in the early exchanges before Hannah’s fourth gave her the ascendancy for a brief period. The North East lady made a big break with a super effort at the ‘ivy house’ and gained further ground with a succession of lengthy deliveries before going a full shot clear by the ‘Bell Inn’. Togher Cross contender, Hannah, kept challenging and reduced the margin at the three-quarter stage but Ciara’s brilliant effort past ‘Geoff’s lane’ put paid to any comeback hopes. Juliette Murphy and Chloe O’Halloran contest the second semi at Macroom.
County round scores in boys U16 have produced some compelling action. At Macroom on Saturday in a quarterfinal West Cork’s Brian O’Sullivan overcame a massive hurdle when getting the better of strong North Cork champion, Shane Dennehy. In a preliminary round at Templemartin on Thursday, North East’s John O’Donoghue eliminated South-West’s Rory Twohig. O’Donoghue meets Carbery champion, Shane Crowley in the quarterfinal at Terelton. At Bweeng on Bank Holiday Monday, City champion, Anthony Crowley made a big statement throwing shots of junior standard in a one bowl win over stylish Gaeltacht contender, Cathal Creedon. A semi-final billing awaits with the winner of the Carbery/North East meeting of Shane Crowley and John O’Donoghue. In boys U12 there was also success for West Cork when Eoghan Hickey won from North’s Jayden Crowley at Macroom. Gaeltacht’s Eoin Kelly impressed in his county U12 quarterfinal win over City’s Cian O’Donovan also at Bweeng on Bank Holiday Monday. In a girl’s U16 quarterfinal at Bweeng on Monday, Gaeltacht’s Tara Twomey won from City’s Caolinne Callanan.
In regional action Mid Cork’s junior C championship got underway at Jagoe’s Mills with a meeting of last years novice A county winner John A Murphy and Armagh native Eugene Kiernan. For a €1,600 total stake Murphy’s opening five yielded a bowl lead which he held to the finish. In a big-money novice C championship score at Newcestown on Sunday evening Sean Nyhan, a county novice 2 winner in 2015, won in the last shot from Dylan Galvin for a €6,000 total. In Mid novice C at Templemartin David Desmond defeated Michael Waugh. Barry Coughlan of Templemartin scored a good win in the novice C championship at Beal na mBlath defeating Mark Courtney, last shot, for €940.
Denis O’Sullivan is South-West junior A champion for 2023. In a quality three-way play off at The Pike on Saturday evening he came from a bowl of odds down to deny Gavin Twohig and Jimmy O’Driscoll for a €9,360 stake. It was O’Driscoll who had early momentum rising a bowl on both rivals in the bowling to the no-play lines at ‘White’s cross’. O’Sullivan, last years junior B county winner, showed blinding speed in reaching ‘Draper’s’ in three excellent throws at which point he had wiped out the deficit and gone almost a shot ahead of both opponents. All three lined big shots up to the novice line with Twohig now challenging strongly. O’Sullivan beat big tips to hold his lead and will be a formidable force in the county rounds. He plays the winner of James Cooney (East Cork) and Patrick O’Driscoll (London) in the quarterfinal round at Curraheen. In South West novice D scores at The Pike, Jack O’Driscoll defeated Brian Harrington and Matthew O’Driscoll won from Stephen Long. In U18 at The Pike, Cillian Twohig won from Mark O’Donovan and Eoin Fitzpatrick.
Kevin Murphy made a winning return to the West Cork championship when defeating Ballinacarriga’s Finbarr Lynch in novice B at Togher Cross. Also, in B at Drinagh on Sunday morning there was a sensational late swing when Murray Cup winner at Ardcahan from the previous week, Michael A Cronin, came from a bowl down at the ‘blacksticks’ to deny Kealkil’s Seamus O’Sullivan.
James Cooney won the East Cork junior A final from Mick Hurley at Clashmore on Saturday. For a €1,600 total a shot for shot duel turned in Cooney’s favour when he fired a ferocious thirteenth to the ‘ash tree’ point. It gave the 2017 county champion momentum enough to take the title. A meeting with London’s Patrick O’Driscoll is next up for Cooney. In the Gaeltacht division the former South West man, Freddie Scannell won a tough novice A shoot-out with veteran champion, Tim Kelleher at Clondrohid. In novice C at Terelton Tony Healy defeated Anthony Lynch and Joe Creedon won from Adam McCarthy. In the same grade at Baile Bhuirne, Mattie McDonagh defeated Patrick Browne. In the D championship at Baile Bhuirne Brian Crowley defeated Joseph Lynch.
The North Cork novice grades progressed at Beal na Morrive where Clifford O’Flynn fired five big opening shots in a one bowl win over Patrick Sexton. They played for a €540 total. At Kilcorney in novice D, James Collins defeated Denis Murphy for a €910 total. In a return double here, Mickey McAuliffe and Pat Fitzgibbon defeated Stephen Spillane and Alan Sexton, last shot for €800. At Bweeng in U14 semi-finals, Culann Bourke won from Tyrone Dennehy and Ian Coleman won from Donagh Murphy. In an U18 semi-final score at Firmount, Shane Dennehy won from Patrick Sexton. Shane will play Jonathan O’Callaghan in the decider after the Mallow player won his semi-final from Evan Buckley. In a doubles score back Kilcorney after the novice veteran county fixture Ross Lynch and Paul Walsh defeated Bernard and Darragh O’Donovan for a €920 total. In the City division, Denis Connolly defeated Kieran Corrigan in the novice A semi-final at Whitechurch. Templemichael hosted two novice B championship scores, and here Tony Dunlea defeated John Donnellan and Finbarr Ross defeated John Linehan.
The feature in the West Cork fund-raisers at The Clubhouse involved a senior match-up on Bank Holiday Monday between Patrick Flood and Aidan Murphy. Flood had won their previous clash in the Noel Phair Cup at Shannonvale and had early momentum when going sight at ‘the chips’ in three excellent opening shots. Murphy, the punter’s favourite in the €6,100 total stake, rallied in a score of mixed bowling and had it level with a big cast from ‘Clon cross’. They went shot for shot to the ‘old school’, but when Flood’s thirteenth caught the left well back of the finish line, Murphy raised winning odds. With an eighty metre advantage, the now Dunmanway resident was secure in taking a last shot victory. On Sunday here, Anthony Gould defeated Adrian Buttimer by a bowl for €8,000 and Richard O’Brien scored a couple of wins over Alan Brickley. All results are in the Carbery section. In a tournament final at Jagoe’s Mills, playing for the Denis O’Donovan Cup, John O’Mahony prevailed against Derrick Murphy. The disparity in grades led to a stakeless contest and it was B ranked O’Mahony who reached the ‘old railway line’ in eight excellent shots. Murphy did well to hold the margin to a bowl here and indeed succeeded in bringing it under that in the next exchanges, but O’Mahony had enough in hand to take the winner’s prize. The Phale Road on Sunday morning was an idyllic setting for a superb U10 girls play-off as Ted Hegarty completed his under-age tournament series for 2022/23. The last of nine separate competitions had Gaeltacht’s Caroline Creedon, Carbery’s Aoife McCarthy and Ava Healy, Dunmanway contesting. A splendid contest saw all three showing their paces and it was Aoife who led by a shot at the half-way point. Caroline reserved her best for the closing stages and a magnificent rally saw her win by ten metres. Earlier in the week in the U16 boys final, Caroline’s brother, Cathal, also captured the winner’s prize when coming in ahead of a game Daniel Wilmot. Earlier winners from Ted’s tournaments were, Ailbhe O’Shea Jun ladies/U18/U16; Daniel O’Sullivan U14; Ross O’Brien U12; Jayden Crowley U10; Tommy Coppinger U8; Laura Sexton U16; Maebh Cuinnea U12. Back the road after the junior B county score at Curraheen, Finbarr Coomey (jun) defeated Maurice Connolly in the last shot for €2,700. The Pike had a big money intermediate contest after the South-West junior A final on Saturday evening. Wayne Parkes and Paul Buckley went head-to-head for a €9,800 total and it was the Clon man Parkes who prevailed after Buckley came from a bowl down to force a last shot finish. At Whitechurch on Wednesday, Timmie McDonagh defeated Cian Boyle, last shot, for €1,800 and after Saturday’s senior score, Tom O’Callaghan defeated Michael O’Donnell, one bowl, for €3,600.