SEAMUS SEXTON TAKES THE HONOURS AT BOTTLEHILL
Elevated and breezy, Bottlehill, in bowling’s North East division, was the main focal point for punters at the weekend as the second running of the Eamonn Bowen (Sen) Memorial tournament was played out over two days. Three senior scores headlined the event with two Saturday qualifiers leading into Sunday’s afternoon three-way play-off. It was a weekend when European champion, Seamus Sexton, ruled the roost. Two barnstorming displays bolstered by exceptional opening salvoes on both days won him the prestigious cup in emphatic style. Defending cup holder, Martin Coppinger, and Saturday’s qualifier winner Michael Harrington provided worthy opposition but the sheer consistency of the Nadd native was the stand-out quality. Leading from the off in Sunday’s decider, Sexton took full advantage of a slack start by Coppinger to rise a bowl of odds after five. Harrington was closer at this point but also well adrift. Following a fine victory over Pa Flood on Saturday, Harrington did not bring the same fluency to Sunday’s final and Sexton went two clear by the half-way point leaving Coppinger the closest challenger over the last third. A rare misplay by the longtime leader gave last years winner a glimmer with four to go but that chance wasn’t availed of. As he did on Saturday, Sexton, repelled the comeback charge and took the winner’s prize in impressive fashion. They played for a combined €3,000.
The morning scores on Sunday saw an incredible win for Wayne Callanan who took the verdict from Eamonn Bowen (Jun) by less than a metre. For a €4,400 total, Callanan rose an early bowl of odds but quickly lost it as Bowen dominated for most of the score. A big bowl of odds down with three to go, Callanan fired a monstrous second last that propelled him to victory by the narrowest of margins. Back the road, John O’Donoghue threw some exceptional bowls in his one-shot victory over North Cork’s Mark Bourke. The stake in this one amounted €5,300.
Proceedings got underway on Saturday morning with the first senior semi-final involving Michael Harrington and Patrick Flood and it soon became evident that Harrington was the steadier player sweeping away shots accurately for the most part and gaining ground on the more erratic Flood. Harrington’s second was well-driven effort that gave him an eighty-metre advantage and the bowl of odds was up when Flood’s fifth suffered an accidental block. That vital element of luck was with Harrington when his fifth got away with a very tight right-hand play resulting in increased odds for him, but Flood raised his game and cut the margin to the even shot beyond half-way. A rare error by Harrington throwing his eleventh presented Flood with a golden chance to level but it wasn’t taken, and the long-time leader regained his earlier advantage. Harrington’s winning margin at the end was close to two. The total stake at issue amounted to €5,300.
Seamus Sexton laid down an early marker in his semi-final shoot-out with Gary Daly firing two opening shots that covered over four hundred metres. Going for a substantial €23,000 total stake, Fermoy man, Daly didn’t do a lot wrong with his first four but fell almost a shot down as Sexton followed up his opening brace with two more in similar vein. Relentless in that opening phase, Sexton covered the road to the half-way point in seven shots a bowl and eighty metres up. Daly didn’t give up the ghost and got back into it with two piledrivers on the rise. With his big advantage now well under the bowl, Sexton faced some pressure throwing his twelfth but stood up well lining a massive cast that would ease him into a big bowl of odds victory.
Also, on Saturday a long-standing Bog Road/Whitechurch rivalry was renewed when Declan O’Leary and Stephen Bowen went head-to-head for a €6,000 total. Bowen, almost a bowl up at half-way looked to have it but Bog Road clubman, O’Leary, staged a spirited comeback and won by the shot. In the last of the day, there was another win for North Cork when Stephen Murphy defeated Michael O’Leary for a €4,600 total. The weekend also served as a Cancer Research fund-raiser and the cause was very well supported by the bowling public all of whom availed too of the excellent hospitality provided by the local ladies committee who served food and hot drinks throughout both days.
HONOURS EVEN ON WHIDDY ISLAND, PROCEEDS GO TO CANCER CONNECT.
Fund-raising too was the objective of a superb day’s bowling in the far west on Saturday. Organised by Danny O’Leary of Whiddy Development group and Bantry Bowling Club, a four-score programme involving bowlers from Mid Cork’s Newcestown and Beal na mBlath bowling clubs and locals drawn from Bantry and Durrus was undertaken on the island which has a history of bowling dating back to the early days of the last century. Honours were evenly shared after three-doubles and a single-hand joust on the narrow route past the newly developed school-house. The home side were early victors when Connie and Jimmy O’Leary from Whiddy accounted for the formidable Mid Cork duo of John A Murphy, county novice A champion in 2022, and Tim Allen. Another home win in the return was forged when Darren Cronin was the star performer in his doubles win with Ronan O’Mahony over James Kelleher and Paul Twomey. The Mid Cork men were in the winner’s enclosure in a singles joust when Joe Madden defeated Frank Arundel and levelled the series when Newcestown’s double county winning star, James Kelleher, partnered Bernard O’Callaghan to victory over Corneilus O’Mahony and Brendan Burke. At the end of the day, Beal na mBlath’s stalwart clubman, Gene O’Callaghan presented Danny O’Leary with a four-figure sum which will aid Cancer Connect.
WILMOT PROGRESSES IN CHAMPY DEASY CUP.
Sunday was a busy day at Grange. First out in the Champy Deasy Cup, Denis Wilmot accounted for John Shorten. For a €400 total, Wilmot fired three big openers to ‘Hodnett’s’ to rise commanding odds. Shorten challenged but Wilmot increased his lead and ran out a two-bowl winner. In the ‘John John Cup’ Wayne Parkes defeated Andrew O’Callaghan. This one carried a €1,320 total and it was Clon man Parkes who was away to a bowl lead at the ‘stud farm’. O’Callaghan’s big touch off ‘Holland’s wall’ kept it to a shot, but it was a brief respite. Parkes doubled his lead by the ‘school house cross’ and won by two.
COUGHLAN TAKES TWO AT NEWCESTOWN.
Elsewhere, former Carbery man, Kevin Coughlan, scored a double at Newcestown defeating county novice C champion, David Desmond, in the last shots of two scores for stake of €1,200 and €1,400.
JERH COTTER CUP AT TERELTON
In the Jerh Cotter Cup at Terelton, Paul Twomey came from arrears to deny Adrian O’Driscoll, last shot, for €400. Also, in the Gaeltacht in novice E, Sam Pickering kept a good run going when defeating Charles Kinneally in the last shot at Baile Bhuirne. They played for a total of €720. In North Cork novice E at Firmount, a quarterfinal round score saw Oisin Fogarty defeat Cathal O’Hanlon by a bowl for €400. Also here, Jerry Hubbard defeated Barry Twomey by two bowls, for €800 and Paul Walsh defeated Anthony Cullinane by a bowl for €500. At Jagoes Mills, Chris Hayes defeated Derrick Murphy by a bowl for €800 and Finbarr Coleman defeated Tom Fulham, last shot, also for €800.
BOL CHUMANN CONFIRMS TEAM FOR EUROPEANS WITH STRONG WEST CORK INTEREST.
Following the announcement of the panels of players who will travel, focus is now firmly set on the forthcoming European Championship, the seventeenth iteration, which will be held at the German North Sea coast town of Newharlingerseil on May 10/11/12 2024. Bol Chumann’s senior men have delivered in spades at each of the last four championships and, with a line-up that contains most of the successful side at Meldorf 2022, there is no reason why expectations should not be high again for next year’s event. Most of the heavy hitters who have hit the high spots in the most recent confrontations with our European rivals are there again, eight, including Brian Wilmot, from next year’s senior rankings. Defending road champion, Seamus Sexton, was not long in securing his place and in currently in form not far off that electrifying summer of two years ago. David Murphy, a three-time European kingpin on the road will be all out to put another one over on the Germans on their home patch. Martin Coppinger, top man at the Anniversary games in 2019 and so unlucky not to take gold on the Moors on that freezing day in Kaltenhorn in 2022, will be feared by the Europeans while Aidan Murphy, Moors gold champion at Pesaro in 2012 and James O’Donovan, bronze on the road last time out, are proven competitors on this stage. As indeed are Gary Daly, Michael Bohane and Brian Wilmot all of whom have contributed hugely to Gold Medal winning team performances by the Irish at recent internationals. From Intermediate ranks, Tim Young, our only Moors match winner at Meldorf, Andrew O’Callaghan, a former youths international, and team coach, Billy McAuliffe, who outshone many in the trials events bring much to a strong panel. Add in northern hot shots, Thomas Mackle and Colm Rafferty and Bol Chumann should be a formidable force. They may well need to be at their strongest. Memories are still vivid of FKV’s previous hosting at Westerstede in 2004 when a whitewash of our senior men’s team was effected by a high-powered home outfit led by Gold Medal winner, Henning Feyen. There were high hopes for then too for a team that included Bill Daly, David Murphy, Jerry Hegarty and Donal O’Riordan. The intense battle for places sees some noteworthy names lose out including youths Gold Medal winner in 2022, Darragh Dempsey, Killian Kingston and John O’Rourke. Emma Fitzpatrick (Coach) has announced the lady’s senior and U18 teams and these too carry high hopes of securing medal placings. Senior champion, Geraldine Curtin and last years title holder, Hannah Sexton, lead the way with Veronica O’Mahony, Hannah Cronin, Player of the Year, Ciara Buckley, Emma Hickey from Durrus all experienced at international events. Denise Murphy and Rachel Desmond will play-off for the remaining spot. All-Ireland champion, Kelly Mallon will be keen to add a second gold to her 2008 success and will be joined from the north by Dervla Toal-Mallon. In U18 the Sexton sisters, Ellen and Laura form a formidable duo and will be well-supported by Mid Cork’s rising star, Rosin Allen and Gaeltacht’s Darcey O’Brien. Michaella Green is Ulster’s representative. Boy’s U18 are backboned by Gaeltacht’s Liam Murphy and Cathal Creedon who both excelled at the trial sessions. City’s Anthony Crowley and Dunmanway’s Jonathan Deane have made the cut on the back of some high-powered performances also at the trials. All in all much to look forward to in May 2024.