Following the successful completion of All-Ireland series 2, the action continues ahead of the junior C and novice finals in early September. A little more distant on the horizon but shining brightly is the prospect of the 37th King and Queen of the Roads festival returning to a three-day event with attendant qualifying tournaments, the Mick Barry Cup, for the King and Gretta Cormican Cup for entry to the Queen semi-finals providing a feast of action in the lead-up. With September 23/24/25 pencilled in for the King and Queen weekend, the King qualifier tournament is up and running and had three high-octane shoot-outs at Ballincurrig at the weekend with Martin Coppinger and Arthur McDonagh taking issue in the opener on Saturday for a sizable €13,100 total. A fifteen-shot belter ensued with Coppinger shading tips at most points. In a spirited finale, the Bantry native beat a big second last of McDonagh’s to hold a valuable thirty metres facing the line and then beat another good effort from his Fermoy rival to take the victory and move a step closer to qualification. Patrick Flood made his senior debut a winning one when he defeated Armagh’s Bryan O’Reilly in another Mick Barry Cup contest on Sunday morning. A searing fifteenth shot out the last bend catapulted Flood into a bowl lead and a place in the second round. They played for a total of €1,200. Former King’s Gary Daly and Aidan Murphy clashed in the Sunday afternoon qualifier, and it was 2019 winner, Daly, who came out on top in this one. Murphy’s only lead came in the opening exchange, but it stayed close to the ‘long straight’. Daly’s ninth was a big one and it helped him rise a bowl lead in eleven to the ‘big turn’. He doubled his lead in the closing segment. They played for a total of €6,000. Just one place remains to be secured for the King of the Road three-way semi-finals with reigning King, David Murphy, All-Ireland champion, Thomas Mackle, Munster champion, Michael Bohane plus the Dutch NKB championship winner and his counterpart from the German (FKV) Association already guaranteed their slots.
A vital component of the King and Queen festival is the Jim O’Driscoll Cup competition dedicated to intermediate graded players. Exempt from qualification are provincial champions, Patrick Flood and Ethan Rafferty. The qualifying tournament is up and running and produced a cracker on Thursday between Paul Buckley and Wayne Calnan. For a combined €2,700, Buckley beat a big last tip of Calnan’s to advance.
County round scores in junior C and novice grades dominated mid-week action. Some are down to the semi-final rounds but there remains an urgency with five finals followed by two play-offs all to be completed well in advance of the All-Ireland’s series 3 at Fenor, Co. Waterford on weekend September 3/4. North Cork’s champions had the better of their Carbery counterparts in novice A and D preliminaries at Clondrohid on Tuesday. Ballinagree’s Kevin Manning and Joe O’Brien, Ballydehob, had a right battle in the novice A contest. A shot for shot duel played for a €6,200 total ended with a last shot win for Manning. He now pitches up against Mid Cork’s John A Murphy in the county quarterfinal. Ruari O’Connell made it a double for North Cork when he defeated Carbery’s Sean McNulty by a bowl for €1,600. O’Connell’s good start had him a bowl up early and he held it to the finish. It’s O’Connell against Mid Cork’s Brendan Hurley in the D quarterfinal.
The preliminaries were completed on Saturday when Carbery and North Cork’s novice B and C representatives went head-to-head. First blood again went to North Cork when Coachford’s Eamonn Murphy, thanks to a massive fourth shot towards ‘Tier Beg cross’, got the better of Darren Whooley, Leap for a combined €2,200. David Minihane evened it up on the day for the Carbery camp as he edged a thrilling battle with Mallow’s Jamie Kelleher. A leading light on Bol Chumann’s U18 panel at the recent European Championships in Meldorf, Kelleher lined a huge fourth to go almost a shot clear, but Minihane’s response was excellent and the Carbery champion had it level after six. Minihane then went a bowl ahead after nine, but Kelleher rallied and took it a last shot. Minihane held on and will play Mid Cork’s veteran campaigner, Dan O’Donovan in the quarterfinal at Timoleague.
It was City versus South-West at Castletownkenneigh mid-week. David Hegarty showed his paces winning a tough battle with James O’Sullivan on Friday. The underdog in the €8,000 total stake, Hegarty looked in trouble at the ‘old pub’ trailing by a margin of seventy metres but turned it around with two of the finest to the bend by ‘O’Leary’s’. This brace gave him a lead of almost a bowl, and it was cushion enough for a last shot win as the well-backed City champion challenged to the end. David Hegarty plays Gaeltacht’s Jim Coffey or the North East champion, Thomas O’Callaghan or Joseph Murphy in the county semi-final. In novice C on Wednesday, played out, City’s Alan Murphy and South-West’s Darren Harrington contested a score of wildly swaying fortunes. Darrara based, Harrington hit two big openers to go a shot up only to lose it almost immediately as Murphy hit a big third. The South-West champion regained most of his earlier odds with a good bowling to the ‘triangle’ but was eventually caught again as Murphy excelled in the next exchanges. It was the City man who then held a bowl lead for the closing exchanges and it was cushion enough for a last shot victory. They played for a total of €3,600.
South-West got in the winners’ enclosure in Novice A when John O’Driscoll defeated Myles Connors for a combined €6,600. O’Driscoll trailed with four to go but a big finish brought him home a bowl of odds winner. North-East or Gaeltacht standard-bearers face the winners in the semi-finals. It was West v East at Jagoe’s Mills and on Saturday in junior C, West Cork’s Kevin Cotter eliminated a strong contender in East’s representative, Paul O’Brien, one bowl, for €5,400. Cotter now plays Denis Murphy in the semi-final after Mid Cork champion, Murphy, defeated Carbery’s Brian Coughlan, in the quarterfinal at Timoleague. On Sunday morning at Jagoes and here Paul Kingston showed why he could have a big say in the destination of the novice A championship.
The West Cork champion from Dunmanway was in terrific form in a two-bowl victory over East representative, Michael O’Leary, an exponent indeed who was good enough to win a county junior B championship as recent as 2018. East Cork shared the spoils on the morning when Sean O’Leary won the novice B quarterfinal from West Cork’s champion, Padraigh O’Sullivan, last shot, for €1,400. At Beal na Morrive on Sunday evening, Gaeltacht recorded a double over their North-East counterparts. Another likely contender in Novice A, Michael Desmond, Cill na Martra had a tough battle with North East’s Richard O’Brien before going through as a last shot winner, while Gaeltacht’s D champion, Mattie McDonagh, put in a blinding finish to overcome a dogged North-East representative, Felix Murphy, by almost a bowl, for a €10,400 total. Noel Hegarty of the City is next up for McDonagh while Desmond has novice A semi final meeting with South West’s John O’Driscoll.
A popular staple of bowling’s pre-pandemic August schedule made a welcome return last week as Margaret Daly’s CUH Bowel Cancer fund-raisers took centre stage at Shannonvale. A total of twelve scores attracted large crowds and with an attendant raffle and sponsorship still accumulating a sizable four figure sum will be realised for the worthy cause. City’s Peter Nagle won by a bowl from Drinagh’s John Young for a €12,000 total on Friday while, Tommy O’Sullivan eclipsed fellow South-West junior A, Alex O’Donovan, for a €16,200 total on Saturday. Wayne Parkes won a cracking score on Sunday morning from Andrew O’Callaghan and there was another local victory when David Hegarty got the better of Jim Coffey for a €16,00 total. All results are in the Carbery bowling results section.
Drinagh’s Emma Hurley is a dual West Cork champion for 2022 having annexed the U14 prize at The Clubhouse on Tuesday. Also, the winner of U16, Emma got the better of Kimi Bosna after a good contest and will contest the county rounds shortly. The West Cork junior ladies has thrown up a rare defeat for Rachel Kingston. A competitive grouping has seen Dunmanway’s Eirinn O’Donovan showing good mastery of the Drinagh road, and it was here she eliminated the European and All-Ireland U18 champion. Eirinn now plays Maighreid O’Leary in the semi-final at Derrinasafa. On the other side, lie two strong contenders. Marie Russell and Katelyn Sheehan meet at Drinagh this weekend. There was a double for the Sexton sisters in South-West finals at Grange. U16 county winner, Laura, added the U14 regional championship to her trophy cabinet with a hard-earned win from the determined Ballineen contestant, Grace Ahern while Margaret won the junior final from Ciara Ahern.
The Gaeltacht division, fresh from its All-Ireland triumphs in Armagh completed its novice schedule on Bank Holiday Monday and have a strong selection going in search of further honours. The novice D final at Cill na Martra carried a whopping €8,000 total stake and was a fiercely competitive battle. Mattie McDonagh emerged the winner from Conor Kelleher. Earlier in the day at Terelton, Cillian Kelleher, county U18 runner-up and son of All-Ireland veteran winner, Tim, earned more silverware for the family when he captured the novice C crown with a hard-earned victory over Shane O’Driscoll. Gaeltacht face North-East opposition in the county quarterfinals at Beal na Morrive.
Bol Chumann mourns the passing of John Cronin of Churchtown South, East Cork. John had a key role on Bol Chumann’s administrative team of the eighties and nineties holding the important office of fixtures secretary while also contributing enormously to his club, Churchtown South and the East Cork region. Always a difficult assignment, John excelled in his fixtures duties, always courteous but firm and fair in his dealings with hundreds of players. Patience and fortitude were his great virtues as championship were completed and deadlines maintained in often arduous circumstances. Although in declining health in recent years, John retained an abiding interest in all things bowling and was kept up to date by visits from the many friends he made throughout a lifetime’s involvement. John’s exceptional input was acknowledged in 2001 when he was presented with bowling’s Hall of Fame Award. May he rest in Peace.