The 2022 men’s intermediate championship got underway at the weekend with scores at Ballyvourney and Grange. North Cork’s Andrew O’Callaghan, 2020 county junior A champion, made a winning start at the higher level with a one bowl win over Raymond Ryan at the Gaeltacht venue on Saturday. A gutsy display had him in the ascendancy from the fifth shot onwards and it was his overall consistency that was the decisive difference at the end. Bandon native, Ryan retains that innate natural ability that won him an All-Ireland U18 title over ten years ago and indeed a silver European road medal at the Pesaro games in 2012, but a lack of score practise seemed to be his undoing on Saturday last as a litany of missed chances and wayward deliveries had him on the backfoot for most of the score. Both hit the ground running firing excellent openers and then both getting away with tight right plays as the lead changed hands. From hind O’Callaghan’s fourth did not get a good run but to the disappointment of the Bandon camp, Ryan missed a tip he should have put odds on. It was a turning point as the Mallow man extended his lead to fifty metres with a fine fifth and was a bowl to the good after seven. To Ryan’s credit he fought a rearguard battle well and knocked the bowl off odds entering the last quarter. A chance of bringing it to a last shot finish came and went when he missed sight at the last bend and O’Callaghan won convincingly. He will now play City’s Wayne Calnan in the quarterfinal at Terelton. They played for a total of €6,340.
On a good weekend for the grades newcomers Bantry’s Tim Young took full advantage of a slack sequence by Paul Buckley to come home almost a bowl of odds winner of their first-round score at Grange. Buckley, championship runner-up to Michael Bohane in 2019, started well and was close to a bowl up after three excellent shots to sight at the ‘stud farm’. That extended to a bowl and twenty metres by ‘Holland’s wall’ before a remarkable transformation took place. Young got a peach of a sixth shot from this juncture to ‘DeBarra’s’ and it gave him an unexpected lead when Buckley hit two in succession that failed to run. A super seventh from Young to the ‘school cross’ yielded more unexpected benefits as Buckley’s travails continued on the downward stretch. The upshot of this passage of bowling was that Tim Young came from a bowl deficit to two bowls clear. Buckley staged a ferocious rally in the bowling to ‘Hodnett’s’ and, for a moment, it looked as if it might be a level contest, but Young found his groove again with a big cast to the ‘white house’ and that was enough to ensure a quarterfinal spot at Clondrohid against Billy McAuliffe. The stake here amounted to €5,200 with Buckley the punters favourite.
Louise Daly, Hannah Cronin and Juliette Murphy gained winning points from their respective group stage scores in the womens intermediate championship. At The Clubhouse on Monday, Louise Daly won a thrilling shoot-out with Louise Collins. This group D score had Daly taking a bowl lead to ‘O’Brien’s bend’ thanks to a brilliant start. Collins closed the gap on several occasions, but Daly stayed in front amid a flurry of top-class exchanges. At Grange on Friday, Hannah Cronin also made a strong start as she took the winners point from her group B contest with Bernadette Murphy. Two big opening shots gave the Togher Cross lady a lead she didn’t relinquish. At Macroom on Sunday, Juliette Murphy gained the winning Group A point from her contest with Drinagh’s Julianne Hayes. In a senior ladies contest mid-week at Shannonvale, Hannah Sexton and Meghan Collins played for a €3,500 total. Hannah’s early dominance saw her take a bowl lead to ‘Desmond’s cross’. It looked precarious when Meghan lined two exceptional shots to ‘Kingston’s lane’, but the Timoleague lady kept her advantage with equally good responses and won by the bowl of odds. Killian Kingston and Eamonn Bowen got some pre-championship score practice at Whitechurch with a competitive joust that carried a €9,500 total. After a good start by Kingston, Bowen took control rising a bowl lead at ‘bula lane’. Just as quickly he lost it as Kingston recovered his earlier form to level the score at ‘Downey’s line’. The East Cork man mastered the closing third in fine style going on to win by a bowl of odds. At Grange mid-week, in the Champy Deasy Cup, Alex O’Donovan played a blinder in a convincing two-bowl win over Denis Wilmot for a €4,400 total. At Ballinaurra, Upton, on Saturday, in a junior tournament score, Denis Wilmot rebounded well with victory over Mick Hurley, one bowl, for €3,400. At Grenagh on Sunday, Brian Wilmot defeated Edmund Sexton by a bowl for €2,300.
The Mid-Cork 2021 novice veteran final was on at Jagoe’s Mills on Saturday and it was Belgooly’s Dan O’Donovan who won a cracking score with Mick Murphy, Innishannon. Victory came in the last shot for a €1,000 stake. The 2022 novice D championship progressed at Beal na mBlath where Castletown’s Mick O’Callaghan got the better of Joe Lynch after a good contest. At Templemartin in D, John Madden defeated Timmy Coughlan and at Jagoe’s, Derrick Murphy won from Barry Flynn. The 2022 Mid junior A championship score between Dan O’Halloran and Aidan Desmond did not go at Ballinacurra, Upton, on Saturday.
South West’s novice championships continued mid-week. In novice C, at Grange, Darren Deasy overcame Eoin Connolly and, at Shannonvale, in the D grade, P J Hegarty won from Feidhlim O’Neill. Also, in D at Timoleague, Stephen Long won from Matthew O’Driscoll and at The Pike, Pat O’Mahony won from Denis Fitzpatrick and Richie Lawton won from John Santry. In the novice B championship at Fisher’s Cross, Ivan Buchannon was in fine form in a win over John O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll did win the return here from Buchannon.
The West Cork championships had a cracking novice C championship score at Durrus. Johnny Collins, Togher Cross, edged this one from Paul Walsh, Kenneigh, for an €800 total. Ballinacarriga had four at the weekend including the 2021 U14 final. This was a terrific contest won by Daniel O’Sullivan of Ardcahan from a gallant Brian O’Sullivan of Johnstown. Daniel who played a starring role with Cork’s U14 selection at the recent inter-provincials at Newcastle, Dublin, needed to produce the big shots against his Johnstown rival who fought it to a thrilling last shot finish. In girls U12 at Ballinacarriga, Drimoleague’s Shauna O’Driscoll showed wonderful bowling skill in her win over another promising newcomer, Caoimhe Hurley from Ballineen. In novice D, Drinagh’s Aidan Hurley won from regional secretary, Paudie Hurley and Kieran O’Driscoll won from Ray Jennings. At Kealkil in novice C, John Murphy, Togher Cross, got over a stiff hurdle with victory over upgraded Timmy Roberts, Castledonovan. In scores at Togher Cross, Brian Murray won his C championship joust with young Danny Horgan while in D, Kieran Collins won from Jason O’Brien and Darragh Kehily won from Rickard O’Regan. At Bantry, in C, John O’Regan defeated Damien Hurley, last shot, and in D, here, Darren O’Donovan defeated Kevin O’Donovan by a bowl for €400.
There are a few notable departures in regional junior A championships around the county. Trevor O’Meara is gone in the City division having lost, a shade unluckily it has to said, by a mere three metres to Michael O’Donoghue in their back-door play-off at Whitechurch. The youthful O’Donoghue progresses to a semi-final shoot-out now with former Carbery champion, James Nagle. Craig Moynahin and Cian Boyle contest the second City junior A semi. In East Cork another likely contender, Nicholas Carey, lost out to Denis Cooney at Ballincurrig.