Bottlehill/Carrignavar Bowling Club’s hosted a two-day mini tournament in commemoration of Eamonn Bowen (Sen) and, fittingly, as it honoured a man who played at the top level for almost his entire lifetimes involvement in bowling, it brought together a selection of the game’s leading lights who delivered an exciting finale on a tough road. Martin Coppinger, David Murphy and Seamus Sexton have garnered many laurels between them, and they delivered again on Sunday in a terrific three-way decider that was won at the death by Coppinger. He had just metres to spare on Murphy with Sexton a bowl further back. North Cork man Sexton was the underdog but carried the fight winning the first five exchanges before Coppinger, with a brilliant effort to the ‘holy well’ juncture, looked to take control. Both Coppinger and Murphy gained ground on Sexton around the half-way point. Following a flurry of top-class exchanges, Murphy fired a sensational cast at the double corner to take his first lead. Sexton fell a bowl back, but the tempo never flagged between the front two as they fought it to the line. Murphy beat huge shots to hold a narrow lead facing the finish only for Coppinger to have the final say when his searing last shot won the day by a few metres. They go again at Castletownbere in an R.N.L.I. fund-raising score on Wednesday December 28. The stake money at issue at Bottlehill on Sunday amounted to €11,400 three-way plus €9,600 (Murphy/Coppinger). In a return score at Bottlehill Noel Gould defeated Patrick Coffey, last shot, for €8,000.
Saturday’s opening qualifying score had the senior ranks newest incumbent, Patrick Flood, pitched in against Martin Coppinger in what would prove to be a tough baptism. The Bantry native was, of course, the overwhelming favourite but got a real test for much of the way from his youthful rival. The day’s second qualifier had European Champion, Seamus Sexton, in opposition against Gary Daly whose most recent success came in the Mother Hegarty Cup semi-final at Lyre. Sexton strode to a big victory in this one as close on two bowls separated them at the finish. Their contest carried a €7,400 total stake. David Murphy had previously qualified for Sunday’s three-way decider. In a third score on Saturday, the youthful Tipperary native, Michael O’Donoghue won his joust with former senior Edmund Sexton. A good contest that carried a €5,000 total stake went to the last shot.
Bol Chumann’s presentation night at The Celtic Ross Hotel on Saturday, was an enjoyable end of year celebration of a busy championship season that had its full schedule back for the first time in three years. The attendance included, special guests, Mayor Cork County, Danny Collins, Cllr Joe Carroll, senior Bol Chumann officers, chair, Michael Brennan, Hon Sec, Michéal O’Ceallacháin, Treasurer, James O’Driscoll and ninety-nine year old Pearl Gleeson, a close relative of the Sexton family, Timoleague.
Mayor Collins congratulated Bol Chumann on its work in preserving and promoting the sport in the modern age, spoke humorously on his own attempts at Road Bowling and wished the Association well in the future. Cllr Carroll spoke of his long affinity with the sport and stated Bol Chumann need cooperation from all sectors to ensure its continued success. Pat McCarthy, P.R.O. then introduced the 2022 award winners. Forty-four championship finalists were acknowledged for their achievements and while not all made it to Rosscarbery, a sizable percentage did with many travelling long distances. All receive a framed photographic compilation in honour of their championship successes. Those receiving awards were girls U12 Maebh Cuinnea, winner, Shauna O’Driscoll, runner-up; U14, Emma Hurley, Chloe Hubbard; U16, Laura Sexton, Darcy O’Brien; U18, Rachel Kingston, Natalie Dempsey; Boy’s U12, Ross O’Brien, Mikey McDonagh; U14, Daniel O’Sullivan, Jonathan O’Callaghan; U16, Liam Murphy, Brian Horgan; U18, Paddy O’Donnell, Cillian Kelleher; Junior ladies’ Margaret Sexton, Anna Hurley; Intermediate ladies, Denise Murphy Juliette Murphy; Senior ladies, Hannah Sexton, Veronica O’Mahony; novice D men, Ruairi O’Connell, Mattie McDonagh; novice C, Sean Paul McDonagh, Con Collins; novice B, Darren Kelly, Jack O’Callaghan; novice A, John A Murphy, Micheal Desmond; novice veteran, Tim Kelleher, Tony Murphy, junior veteran, Mark Burke, Noel Gould; junior C, David Hegarty, Denis Murphy; junior B, Denis O’Sullivan, Darragh Dempsey; junior A, John Creedon, Tim McDonagh; Men’s intermediate, Patrick Flood, Donal O’Riordan; Men’s senior, Michael Bohane, Seamus Sexton. A highlight of the night was the presentation of four special awards.
Bol Chumann’s Hall of Fame is bestowed on individuals who have been nominated for their exceptional contributions over a long period of time. This year’s recipient is former chair, Susan Greene. Ms Greene was unavoidably absent from the presentation night due a prior commitment. Michael Brennan’s citation read, ‘The bowling game’s governing body, Bol Chumann na hEireann, has been fortunate to have at its helm through its almost seventy years of existence people who have inspired and motivated, instilled confidence and in many ways galvanised its membership. Tonight’s Hall of Fame inductee had all the attributes. Nineteen years in the hot seat is a serious statement of commitment. By its nature holding the position of chair in any organisation is demanding, but it also gives the opportunity show one’s character in its best light. Our Hall of Fame winner oversaw seasons of twenty plus championships, worked in harmony with her peers in Bol Chumann Ard Mhacha, ensured continuity and earned the respect of the Associations entire membership. She inspired loyalty and got it in spades most notably from her trusty lieutenants James and Gretta and she kept a few more in check when any looseness might have been damaging. She was a communicator, communicating with honesty and integrity and with the singular goal of ensuring the best for the sport of bowling. She railed against self-interest and exuded positivity even in the face of the sternest challenges. In bringing our game into the 21st century, into the technical age, and in ensuring it remains a viable entity among the multitude of sporting outlets now available to our youth, our Award winner has left an indelible mark through her years of service’.
The Personality of the Year Award went to Mick Hurley, Conna, and East Cork for his sterling work with Ballincurrig Bowling Club, current All-Ireland hosts and long time King and Queen of the Road organisers. Michael Brennan said ‘Mick is at the coal face in all things bowling when events take place at Ballincurrig. He leads a team of men and women to ensure all necessary precautions are in place before a shot is thrown. And when the bowling starts, he is marker, steward, bowl finder, referee and well able to throw a score if needs be. An administrator of high calibre, he is also Chairman of the East Cork division’.
The Male Player of the Year Award went to Seamus Sexton for his magnificent achievement in winning the Gold Medal at the European Championships in June and for a superb run in the senior championship. Seamus ‘delivered both at home and abroad in a year of exceptional success’. Dunmanway’s Rachel Kingston was the Female Player of the Year award recipient. Another who excelled at the European Championships winning Gold in U18, Rachel followed up with county and All-Ireland honours in her grade. ‘A West Cork title in any grade is not easily won, her county campaign to victory in Lyre involved many tough battles and then there was that memorable comeback victory against Armagh highly rated champion, Caoimhe Rafferty, in the sun-soaked All-Ireland final at Ballincurrig’ read her citation.
Bowling’s vintage B decider is a repeat of last year’s as Michael O’Callaghan ended Liam O’Driscoll’s good run at Togher Cross on Saturday morning last, thus preventing an all-Carbery final. Skibb man, O’Driscoll did not make the best of starts as a poor opener left him a bowl down to O’Callaghan’s well-directed effort. The odds extended to close on two bowls at the bend facing up to the bridge before O’Driscoll closed the gap with a good effort to ‘Hurley’s’. O’Callaghan yielded no more as a steady, strong display earned him a two-bowl victory. Donal Harnedy awaits in the final. In section C at Castletownkenneigh there was an amazing turnaround. Denis Murphy, Ballinagree, a previous winner of the section in 2019, fired two magnificent opening shots and followed up well to rise a two-bowl lead on Togher man, Tom Fulham. The City challenger hinted at a comeback with a super cast to the ‘triangle’, but it was his six from there that transformed this score. Murphy was not doing much wrong, but he steadily lost ground as Fulham hit shot after shot with exceptional precision. The contest swung the City man’s way as the line neared and he edged ahead for an unexpected last shot win. He play’s Jerome O’Mahony is the C semi-final with Pat Scanlon already through to the decider. The Gaeltacht novice E final at Terelton was a cracking contest won by the Cornwall born cricket playing Joe Warren who used his overarm top-spin technique to good effect as he eked out a last shot win over a game Donal O’Shea for a €4,300 total stake. In a correction to last week’s published intermediate list for 2023, Edmund Sexton and Willie O’Donovan were graded junior A at the November executive meeting, and this was ratified at the overall grading.
Bowling followers of a certain generation will remember with affection the engaging presence of Roger O’Donoghue at countless scores during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The Glenflesk native went to his reward last week and leaves abiding memories of a man who acquired a great love for the sport during his time of service with An Garda Siochana in Dunmanway. It was an interest he retained throughout his lifetime. Roger was knowledgeable and well-informed on the attributes of the many bowlers he saw perform over the years. The bowling community extend sympathies to the O’Donoghue family and extended families.