The revival of the Joe O’Sullivan Acorn Life Cup at Castletownbere brought a sizable bowling following to the far west last weekend. The late Joe from the Mealagh valley, who passed away in 2013, was a passionate advocate for the sport and is fondly remembered for his sponsorship of tournaments and for the support he gave to bowlplayers from Bantry and Kealkil areas. He would have enjoyed the cut and thrust and indeed the high-stake punting that surrounded last weekends events. Sunday’s decider was a north-south clash of rare intensity featuring All-Ireland champion, Thomas Mackle and top ranked Fermoy contender, Gary Daly, both harbouring high hopes having defeated previous winners, Martin Coppinger and James O’Donovan in Saturday’s semi-finals. On the new route out towards Allihies, both lined impeccable opening shots with Mackle shading tips by a metre. Daly held sway over the next phase of play but might regret not holding more than the thirty metres lead he was in possession of after five. Mackle was struggling to get traction on the rough surface but eventually did so around the ‘doubles bends’ where he regained the lead to the tune of forty metres after ten. The decisive exchanges came with their twelfth shots and, here, Mackle took a valuable lead for the last quarter with a cracking effort to ‘sight’. The All-Ireland champion yielded no more and beat the line with three of the highest order to become the fifth holder of the Acorn Life Cup. Sunday’s finalist, Gary Daly, was a previous winner in 2016 while Aidan Murphy was an inaugural two-time winner in 2009/10. James O’Donovan and Martin Coppinger also have their names on the trophy.
It's a six-hour jaunt from Armagh City to the Beara peninsula, but for Thomas Mackle and his trusty backers a rich pay-day awaited as the formidable challenge of Martin Coppinger was overcome with unexpected ease in the second of Saturday's Acorn Life Cup semi-finals. The Bantry native’s travails started as early as the opening throw when his bullet-like cast cracked left and he was in trouble, almost a bowl down, when his fifth crossed right. Mackle was consistent without reaching the high spots and he got a huge break when Coppinger’s attempted loft with his seventh stayed inside the fence and was declared a ‘dead bowl’. Now almost two bowls up, Mackle’s lead was unassailable, and he confidently held his ground to the finish line. They played for a €54,000 total. The weekend’s opening score was a contest of swaying fortunes. Gary Daly and James O’Donovan fought their semi-final to a standstill before the man from Fermoy, Daly, took it in the final throw. For a €22,000 total, O’Donovan’s screamer of a second shot put him a bowl up only for Daly to respond with a splendid sequence highlighted by a brilliantly lofted ninth that swung the momentum completely his way as he forged into a lead of forty metres after ten. Daly kept it up and rose a bowl of odds after twelve before a great rally by O’Donovan left just fifteen metres between them for the last shots. Daly held tough and stayed in front. The scores surrounding the Acorn Life Cup had the Shannon’s Brahalish in active mode. Shane defeated Jim Coffey on Friday evening and then partnered Flor Crowley victory over the Coffey’s Jim senior and junior. Ger Connolly pipped Shane Shannon in the last shot of a €24,000 stake money score on Saturday but, not to be denied, the elder Sidney Shannon defeated Pat O’Donovan, White’s Cross by a bowl of odds in the last of Saturday’s scores.
The vintage championship dominated the last week of evening bowling. A high-profile section A clash at The Pike had Jerry Murphy, Templemartin, pitted against 2020 A winner Jimmy Collins of Union Hall. Collins had won their previous engagement at the venue, but Murphy turned the tables this time after a lively contest bedevilled by a mid-score deluge. Going for a sizable €3,100, Murphy rose a shot of odds after three, but it was short lived as Collins had it level by the no-play lines at ‘White’s cross’. Collins led then just as the rain descended and worsening conditions proved a trial for both. In a dramatic finale, Murphy edged the final exchanges to advance to a section A semi-final. On Monday at The Pike in section C, (west), Brendan O’Sullivan, Butlerstown hit top form in a two-bowl win over Fachtna Keane, Drimoleague. At Drinagh mid-week in section B, Durrus contender, Donal O’Mahony got the better of Pat O’Sullivan, Shannonvale. Also in C, Association chair, Michael Brennan won from John O’Callaghan at Beal na mBlath.
The junior ladies and girls U12 and U14 championships are progressing although some are still at regional level. Also ongoing is the Gretta Cormican Cup Queen of the Roads qualifying tournament. In the latter, Denise Murphy and Emma Fitzpatrick had a good semi-final battle at Ardcahan on Sunday morning with victory going in the very last shot to All-Ireland intermediate champion, Denise. The Ballinagree lady will have to contend with more Rosscarbery opposition if she is to contest at Ballincurrig on the last weekend in September. Maria Nagle is next up with the winner of that shoot-out faced with the daunting task of overcoming Kelly Mallon and Silke Tulk for a place in the Queen of the Roads decider.
In junior ladies, Nicola O’Sullivan, Carbery’s champion awaits the winner of the North Cork decider. The Gaeltacht junior final on Friday evening at Clondrohid was the culmination of a splendid championship that had close to twenty starters. In an all Macroom decider, Ailbhe O’Shea won an exciting duel with Rachel Desmond. In the county rounds Ailbhe will play the North-East winner.
In U14 at The Clubhouse on Friday evening in a semi-final joust, Chloe Hubbard, the North Cork champion won by a bowl from Mid Cork’s Sophie Murphy who had earlier eliminated Carbery’s champion, Emma O’Leary at Togher Cross. Chloe now meets Drinagh’s Emma Hurley in the decider. Emma had a notable semi-final win over U16 champion, Laura Sexton. Chloe and Emma meet at Castletownkenneigh on Sunday morning next. In U12, Carbery’s Meabh Cuinnea won her quarterfinal with Mid Cork’s Anna Deane. In preliminary round contest Gaeltacht’s Caoilinn Scannell won from City’s Carly Healy. West Cork’s Shauna O’Driscoll is also in contention.
Mickey O’Brien, Rosscarbery, who passed away last week, played many scores in the West Cork tournaments in bygone days. One that is still recalled was a Leap competition final that he contested with Denis O’Brien of The Miles which finished on level tips. Winner and runner-up prizes were divided between the finalists. Mickey, an affable and engaging conversationalist, retained an interest in bowling and its various goings on right to the end. May he Rest in Peace.
Castletownbere: Friday, Shane Shannon defeated Jim Coffey, one bowl, for €19,000; doubles, Shane Shannon/Flor Crowley defeated Jim Coffey Sen/Jim Coffey (Jun), last shot, for €11,400; Saturday, Acorn Life Cup semi-final 1, Gary Daly defeated James O’Donovan, last shot, for €22,000; Ger Connolly defeated Shane Shannon, last shot, for €24,000; Acorn Life Cup, Semi-final 2, Thomas Mackle defeated Martin Coppinger, two bowls, for €54,000; Sidney Shannon defeated Pat O’Donovan, last shot, for €23,300; Sunday, Gavin Twohig defeated Alex O’Donovan (injured) for €8,000; Mike Casey defeated Tom Browne, two bowls, for €6,100; Acorn Life final, Thomas Mackle defeated Gary Daly, one bowl, for €28,000; Johnny Byrnes defeated Mike Casey, last shot, for €8,600.
The Marsh Road: Raymond O’Regan/Paudie Hodnett defeated Luke Nolan/Cian Bowen, last shot, for €900; return O’Regan/Hodnett defeated Nolan/Bowen, one bowl, for €940; Darren O’Brien/Jerry O’Sullivan defeated James Crowley/Pat Burke (L), last shot, for €600; return, Pat Burke defeated Jerry O’Sullivan, one bowl, for €600.
Castletownkenneigh: Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Tony O’Connor, two bowls; Shane Desmond/Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Kevin Walsh/Brian Crowley, last shot, for €480.
Ardcahan: Queen of the Roads qualifier semi-final, Denise Murphy defeated Emma Fitzpatrick, last shot, for €500; Jack Cahalane defeated Kevin O’Sullivan, last shot, for €900.
Lyre: Garoid McCarthy defeated Mark Courtney, last shot, for €1,440; Mark Courtney defeated Eoin Connolly, last shot ,for €1,200.
The Pike: Donal McCarthy defeated Ger Shanahan, two bowls, for €1,240.