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Bowling Report - Week ending 07th August

Eleven and counting, Kelly Mallon’s place at the pinnacle of women’s bowling is secure after another barnstorming All-Ireland display sees her enter the record books as the game’s leading national championship winner. In surpassing Michael Toal’s tally of ten, Kelly demonstrated the full range of her capabilities in a comprehensive win over Cork’s Geraldine Daly-Curtin at Eglish on Sunday morning last. The wide margin at the end, close on four bowls, does not reflect a spirited challenge by the Cork champion particularly in the middle third of the score, but it does emphasise the gulf that exists between the Madden lady and those who aspire to her crown. The first of the heavy showers that permeated the weekend came just before throw-off, but it did not affect the Ulster champion who powered a splendid opener down to ‘Moy point’. Geraldine did well to come within thirty metres, but an uphill battle beckoned when her second went right too soon giving Kelly the opportunity to go eighty in front. The task looked daunting when Kelly drilled a fourth shot tightly at ‘Daly’s corner’ that cannoned back onto the smooth surface and a bowl of odds separated them at that early juncture. It was two bowls after another beautifully executed cast, her sixth of the day and such was her flawless delivery in almost every shot, that the odds continued to mount as they played to the half-way point. Geraldine stemmed the tide with an excellent brace and the odds were back to two before Kelly powered another rocket to ‘Ewing’s corner’. That and another superb effort to ‘Lisgobban lane’ enabled the Ulster champion score the line in seventeen and record her historic win.

The Crowley-O’Carroll Cup for the men’s intermediate championship was in Brian Wilmot’s grasp without having to throw a shot after Ethan Rafferty’s unfortunate leg injury forced him to withdraw from his Sunday afternoon decider. This left the junior A final second on the billing and, while it did at times live up to its promise, it was a prolonged affair spoilt by over-elaboration with road play choices. Cork’s Denis O’Sullivan and Tyrone’s Eugene McVeigh came with big reputations and the stage seemed set for a classic when both delivered opening shots of excellent quality and followed-up with two in similar vein firing prodigious efforts to sight at ‘McNally’s corner’. A metre separated them then in O’Sullivan’s favour but the standard deteriorated and it was McVeigh who took a sixty-metre advantage when the Cork champion spun two in succession into the right. McVeigh lost valuable ground when he misplayed his sixth into the left and it was O’Sullivan who held sway in mixed fare to the half-way point. Inconsistency was McVeigh’s bugbear as he again hit the left with his eleventh and eventually fell a bowl of odds behind when he badly crossed his fourteenth. He showed his best with an astonishing fifteenth up the rise that cut the odds to thirty metres. Again, he failed to follow-up and the lead was back to almost a bowl of odds in O’Sullivan’s favour when he fired an excellent effort to ‘Reid’s corner’. The late drama that unfolded nearly saw a sensational swing. After a double call, O’Sullivan fired a super effort close to the line. McVeigh did well to beat the mark keeping it under the bowl and almost got a late reprieve when O’Sullivan missed the finish point from a good stand. On the road he is well familiar with, the local man fired a big effort to win it, but O’Sullivan held his nerve and beat a testing tip to atone for his defeat in last year’s junior B final at Newtownhamilton. The stake in the junior A final amounted to 10,000 (Euro-Sterling).

The three-under age finals all went Cork’s way. Ellen Sexton was superb in her U18 title winning performance. Michaela Green from the Madden club, a daughter incidentally of Raymond Greene, who won an All-Ireland U14 from Gerard Murray at Bauravilla in 1989, is a highly regarded talent in Ulster bowling and rightly so given her impressive opening salvo in Sunday’s second final. Ellen Sexton wasn’t fazed and produced a display of fast accurate bowling when overturning an early deficit before running out a two-bowl winner. Michaela showed her skills in beating a big opener from Ellen and followed up with a beautifully judged second shot that put her eighty metres up. Ellen’s response was electric. Two of the finest, both delivered with speed and precision, wiped out her northern rivals lead and put her a bowl of odds up. Her sixth and seventh were similarly executed and now her lead was close to two. Michaela strove hard and kept the margin under two but here was no denying the South West champion the Jackie Ryan Cup for 2023. Her sister Hannah was a previous two-time U18 champion. The girls U18 final carried an 8,200 total stake.

Tommy O’Sullivan held all the aces in his U18 final clash with Ulster’s Oisin Gribben. The weekend’s opening score on Saturday had Oisin, who also won Ulster U16, giving away a few years advantage but he pluckily stayed in touch as his intermediated graded rival who carried superior power, took a while to get going. Only fifteen metres separated them after four and it took an excellent effort from O’Sullivan to ‘Ewing’s bend to rise a bowl of odds. The Cork man’s fourteenth was well driven and it catapulted him into a two-bowl lead. Gribben kept it at that to the finish. In acknowledging the Cork youth’s prowess, Ulster chair, Chris Mallon, predicted a bright future for him in senior ranks. There was a gulf too in U14 when Cork’s Tommy O’Donoghue took on Drumcairn’s Dan Sweeney. The best chance for the Ulster champion came when O’Donoghue fired a very short opener. Dan only just beat that mark and was on the hindfoot thereafter. O’Donoghue fired a big second that Dan did well to come within metres of but fell eighty hind of a fine third from the North East representative. Tommy missed a chance to consolidate when his fourth cracked right but did rise a bowl of odds with a smashing seventh. Sweeney battled hard but to no avail and big fourteenth over the line ensured a two-bowl win for the Cork champion.

The host Eglish club had everything in ship shape for their first premier All-Ireland hosting. All points on the road were colourfully identified and a beautifully produced programme enhanced the occasion. Dominic Molloy, Chairman Mid Ulster District Council, at the event opening on Saturday morning, welcomed everybody to the All-Ireland series. Respective Association chairs, Chris Mallon and Michael Brennan, wished all the contestants well. The occasion was dignified also by the presence of MLA Michelle Gildernew who is a local resident. On the 60th anniversary of the first All-Ireland hosting on the Cathedral Road in Armagh, Eglish bowling club maintained a proud tradition in exemplary style. Caroline O’Leary, chair of bowling’s ladies committee, presented the Armagh Construction Cup and the Jackie Ryan Cups to champions, Kelly Mallon and Ellen Sexton at the conclusion of Sunday’s finals.

In support scores around the All-Ireland weekend Colm Rafferty defeated Patrick Flood last shot for 20,000 and Wayne Parkes defeated James Oliver last shot, for 2,000. Brian Wilmot kept his winning run intact with a two-bowl victory over Pete Carr on Sunday evening for a 18,000 total stake.

On the roads of Cork there was an action-packed lead-up to the All-Ireland series as preliminary round and quarterfinal scores were played in the junior C and novice grades. In all, forty-five regional winners had county and All-Ireland title aspirations and, while some had their hopes dashed, others made big statements as to their intent. On Monday in a county novice B quarterfinal at Kilcorney, Gaeltacht’s youthful champion, Liam Murphy from Ballyvourney, was the hot favourite against City’s Bernard O’Donovan. In a stakeless score, O’Donovan kept it level to ‘Coleman’s bridge’ and continued to press with a big third last giving him a ten-metre lead with four to go. Murphy regained the fore bowl and then won the last vital exchange to advance to a semi-final meeting with either North-East’s Shaun Buckley or Carbery’s Danny Coughlan. North East divisional champions came unstuck on Sunday week in the novice C and D preliminaries with South-West opposition, but that was quickly rectified mid-week in Templemartin when firstly Michael Ahern showed his powerful display in winning his regional novice A title from Michael Gould at Grenagh was no fluke with another strong performance at the Mid Cork venue when getting the better of SW’s Ivan Buchannon. Ahern will play Carbery’s Colm Crowley in the quarterfinal at Terelton. The Gaeltacht venue will also host the D quarterfinal match up of Shaun Buckley, North East and Carbery’s Danny Coughlan. Buckley saw off the challenge of South-West’s Eoin McCarthy in the preliminaries at Templemartin on Tuesday. Buckley’s bowling on the evening was first class. Also on Tuesday, on a wet evening at Ballyvourney, West Cork’s Brian O’Driscoll gave a hint that he could be the one to beat in novice A as he delivered a flawless, power-packed performance on the Coolea Road in getting over the challenge of North Cork’s youthful champion, Jamie Kelleher. This one carried a €6,000 total and O’Driscoll opened with a super effort which Kelleher did well to come within twenty metres of. When the Drimoleague man escaped with a tightly cut second it spurred him to a period of dominance in which he rose a bowl of odds with six excellent shots to ‘the island’. There was no catching O’Driscoll on the evening as he reached ‘the council gates’ in nine shots. O’Driscoll semi-final engagement will be another test as he faces Mid Cork’s Eoin O’Donovan or East’s Wayne Kingston. Spoils were shared in the West v North novice B and C counter quarterfinals played at Ballyvourney on Wednesday. Dunmanway’s David O’Brien, the West Cork representative moved to the semifinal round of the B championship with a hard-earned last shot victory over North’s Paul O’Rourke while in the C grade, Kevin O’Donoghue got the better of Brian Murray to ensure a last four spot for the North division. The stake in the latter amounted €2,840. At Templemartin on the same evening the junior C preliminary round score between Willie O’Donnell (North East) and South West’s John O’Driscoll resulted a one bowl win for O’Donnell for a €6,000 total. O’Donnell will play Carbery’s John Cahalane in the quarterfinal at Terelton. On Thursday at Kilcorney there was a shock, not of monumental proportions but a shock nonetheless when City’s Mark Long eliminated Gaeltacht’s rising star, Cillian Kelleher, from the county novice A title race. Long brought a few years more of experience to this one, and it counted in a score of swaying fortunes. He was the bones of a bowl up after two only to see Kelleher level after four. Long was away again to a bowl of odds lead by ‘Coleman’s bridge’ but was pegged back for a second time thanks to Kelleher’s fine loft and follow-up. Kelleher led then and seemed on the way to victory, but Long stayed in touch and with a consistent finish availed a few errors by his Gaeltacht rival to win the contest and book a semi-final spot against either Carbery’s Colm Crowley or North East’s Michael Ahern. In Friday’s action, The Clubhouse hosted the novice C county quarterfinal clash of Carbery’s Gavin Crowley and South West’s Garoid McCarthy. For a combined €4,320, Crowley rose a bowl of odds in four to the ‘chips’ but was pegged back metre by metre in a hard-fought encounter. The Carbery man just about held off McCarthy’s charge and won in the last shot. City’s Colin O’Callaghan is next up for Crowley. Ballyvourney, bar Liam Murphy’s success, had not proved a happy hunting ground for Gaeltacht’s champions and three defeats on Saturday to City rivals was not expected.

First out in novice C, Colm O’Callaghan defeated Joe Creedon with Creedon’s ‘dead bowl’ contributing to his loss. Then newly crowned City novice D champion, Michael O’Driscoll (jun) from Blarney eliminated Jamie McCarthy for a €3,800 total and, in the final score, City’s Jimmy Quilligan in the quarterfinal round of the junior C championship for a €5,000 total. At Ballyvourney on Friday, in a county junior C quarterfinal contest, Shane Collins, North Cork, prevailed in a fiercely contested duel with, West Cork’s Liam Hurley, last shot for a €5,000 total. Collins has a semi-final match-up with either Mid Cork’s John A Murphy or East’s Wayne Kingston in the semi-final. At Ballyvourney on Bank Holiday Monday, In a county quarterfinal round novice D championship score, North Cork’s Paul Twomey defeated West Cork’s Johnny Kelly, by a bowl of odds for a €3,200. In a county novice C quarterfinal at Templemichael on Friday, Mid’s David Desmond defeated East’s Pat Murphy, last shot, for €900. Desmond v North Cork’s Kevin O’Donoghue is the semi-final match-up this week. Also on Monday, at Terelton, North East’s Shaun Buckley took a last win from his novice B quarterfinal contest with Carbery’s Danny Coughlan. The stake in this one amounted to €1,600.

Bantry bowling club have announced that the final of their senior tournament for the Dan O’Riordan Cup is on next Saturday at 3.00pm. Contesting are Michael Bohane and Arthur McDonagh. Ballygurteen hosted a junior tournament contest that attracted a fine gathering on Thursday evening. Two contenders who lit up the junior B county rounds were in opposition, and they delivered another wholesome contest that carried a €5,500 total stake. County champion, Noel O’Regan and semi-finalist Johnny O’Driscoll matched each other in good bowling past the ‘women’s lane’, but from here, the Togher Cross man took a stranglehold. He went a bowl up by the ‘cottage’ and won by that margin. Timmie Murphy won a junior B three-way with Ger Connolly and City’s James O’Sullivan and Dunmanway’s David Horgan won the three-way Ahakista Festival feature. In other club scores, Sean Kiely defeated Paudie Murphy by a bowl back Kicorney for an €1,800 total and, at Ballyvourney, Brian Hurley defeated Anthony Lynch, by a bowl, for €2,300. At Dunderrow, Pat O’Mahony defeated Paudie Keohane, last shot, for €400 and Mark Coleman defeated Stephen Murphy, last shot, for €880. At Jagoe’s Mills, Alan O’Brien defeated Declan O’Donovan, last shot, for €1,240. O’Donovan reversed that result in the return, again last shot, for a total of €1,400. At Whitchurch Shane Lotty defeated Andrew O’Leary, last shot, for €2,200. On a busy Bank Holiday Monday at Ballinacurra, Upton, Tommy Maloney defeated John Holland, last shot, for €1,400; Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Brian Harrington, one bowl, for €1,080 and Haulie O’Driscoll defeated Cormac Desmond, one bowl, for €2,100.

Regional championships are all but done for 2023 but a few still remain. The Mid Cork junior ladies final was played for the Louise Foley Memorial Cup at Newcestown mid-week. This was a cliff-hanger won at the death by Siobhan Kelleher who took her only fore bowl of the score in the very last shot from an unlucky Ciara Allen. The City novice D final went off at Paddoes on Wednesday and the winner her was Mick O’Driscoll (Jun) from Blarney who edged out Tom Delaney, last shot, for €1,900. O’Driscoll held a two-bowl lead at the half-way point but had to withstand a great fightback from Delaney who brought it to the final throw. Chloe Hubbard’s star continues to rise, and she has won the North Cork U12 final for the second time after a good contest with Mia Hubbard at Beal na Morrive. In North Cork junior lady’s semi-final at Beal na Morrive, Rachel Lucey won from Ann Marie Roche. In a doubles score back after the novice A score on Thursday, the City men, Jack O’Leary and Bernard O’Donovan won from Stephen Spillane and Brian Crowley, last shot, for €700. At Kilcorney, Anthony Lynch defeated Sean Kiely, last shot, for €3,400. In the North East junior ladies final at Carrignavar, Sonia Ahern won a good contest with previous champion, Denise O’Donovan.


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