The big scores of the weekend were at North Cork venue, Peake, and at Beal na mBlath where Brendan O’Neill scored the narrowest of wins in a three-way junior B tournament qualifier. Martin Coppinger teamed up with Eamonn Bowen for a €16,000 set-to with cousins, Aidan Murphy and John O’Rourke at Peake and a lively battle ensued. Coppinger lined one of his specials, the fifth of the score, and it propelled his side into a bowl lead after eight shots to ‘Dripsey castle’. It got worse for the Murphy-O’Rourke combination when Aidan’s ninth drifted left before a remarkable transformation came following a brilliant loft by, intermediate champion, O’Rourke, at the ‘bridge’ point. An excellent sequence from both saw the margin cut to sixty metres. A super seventeenth from Murphy brought his side ahead and they held a ten-metre lead for the last shots. Here, Coppinger produced another one of those do or die efforts and it won the day too when Murphy’s brave reply missed. Enniskeane’s Brendan O’Neill came out on the right side of a fraught finish at Beal na mBlath. Darragh Dempsey and Frank Kiely had their moments in a wildly fluctuating score in which chances galore were spurned. This junior B three-way carried a €6,300 total and Kiely was playing catch-up early as Dempsey and O’Neill fought it out at the front over the first third. The Carbery man’s third and fourth saw him at his best and he had a bowl on Kiely and eighty metres on O’Neill as they headed to ‘Bradfield’s cross’. O’Neill closed the gap at ‘Dan Joe’s lane’ while Kiely hit his best spell with three good shots to the half-way point. After nine Dempsey was in command but a mistake with his tenth gave O’Neill an opening to level and he took it with a big eleventh. All three were guilty of errors as the line neared and it was O’Neill who took the verdict with a good last throw that Dempsey missed by less than a metre. Kiely was a bowl further back. The top prize for the Beal na mBlath tournament now rests between Brendan O’Neill, Kenneth Murphy and Anthony Gould.
The 2021 West Cork junior C final at Durrus went the way of Sean O’Regan, Drimoleague, who had a bowl to spare on Dunmanway’s James Lordan. Both men opened at a cracking pace reaching the top of the hill in four. Little separated them here and it stayed close until O’Regan made a break with a piledriver on the downward stretch past the ‘old forge’. The Drimoleague man rose a bowl at ‘Blair’s Cove’ but a late rally by Lordan nearly set up a last shot finish. The Dunmanway man’s second last didn’t run and O’Regan held his odds. It’s early days but for some the 2022 championship is done and dusted. West Cork were out of traps last weekend with first round fixtures in novice C and D grades. Drimoleague was the venue for two first-rounders, and it was David Deane who got the opening win defeating a plucky Fachtna Keane in novice D. Deane was the stronger player and deserved his win but Fachtna, from the home village and in the twilight of a bowling career that spans many decades, fought it well and still has the vintage championship to look forward to. Back the road at Drimoleague a 2022 novice C championship score produced bowling that would have done justice to a higher level. Eoin Murray, Togher Cross, and Stephen Daly, Lisbealad, were the protagonists and they went level for the first five in top-notch fare. Murray broke the deadlock rising a bowl at the ‘line’s’ and held it to the finish.
The 2021 championships are almost done in Mid Cork. Two U18 semi-finals at Ballinacurra, Upton, last weekend resulted in wins for the O’Donovan’s Belgooly. On Saturday the younger Conor availed of a slack start by Barry Murphy to rise winning odds while on Sunday, defending champion, Eoin O’Donovan, won a tough battle with Joshua Murphy, son of senior campaigner, David. Level to ‘Brinny cross’ Eoin rose his winning odds in the next segment to the ‘gas line’. Mid Cork are heading for a busy season. Junior A has an interesting line up and the draw is as follows. (A) John Shorten v Stephen Desmond at Jagoe’s Mills; Quarterfinals, Denis Wilmot v Sean Murphy at Templemartin; Aidan Desmond v Dan O’Halloran at Ballinacurra; John Shorten or Stephen Desmond v David O’ Mahony at Castletownkenneigh; Tom O’Donovan v Kieran Murphy at Newcestown.
There’s a whopping seventy-one starters in Mid Cork’s novice D championship. Some further championships from 2021 were concluded in Mid Cork. At Templemartin in girls U16 sisters Ciara and Rosin Allen battled out a fine decider with Ciara emerging the winner. At Castletownkenneigh in the junior ladies’ final Martina Foley won from Mary Ann O’Donovan. Two cracking scores at Newcestown saw local, Mark Courtney and Kevin Murphy, Dunmanway, share the spoils. For a €2,100 total, Courtney won the outward tournament joust in the last shot of a score that produced excellent bowling. The pair renewed hostilities for a second time in another humdinger back the road for a €1,200 total. Murphy this time got the upper hand again in the last shot. At Grange Denis O’Sullivan (City) came from a bowl down to defeat West Cork junior B champion, Adrian Buttimer, almost a bowl for €4,100. In a womens league score at Castletownkennigh Gretta Cormican got the better of another sporting icon, Juliette Murphy, in the last shot of a good contest.
In tournament action in Ballincurrig, City’s James O’Sullivan rebounded from a recent defeat to Darragh Dempsey with a fine victory over local Michael Wall. For a €1,400 total, City player, O’Sullivan, went a bowl up after four but was caught on the ‘long straight’ by Wall who came in front after nine. The see-saw struggle continued as O’Sullivan regained the initiative restoring his bowl lead with a massive cast up to the ‘sycamores’. This time O’Sullivan held his lead.
The Connaught region and in particular David Hughes have been at the forefront in keeping bowling on the landscape in rural Mayo. From his Aughagower base he has overseen many All-Ireland series’ and continues to promote competitions particularly for those in the under-age sector. A motion from Connaught for Convention in Bandon in December looked for greater involvement for U12’s and U14’s in national competitions and this has speedily been accommodated in the setting up of a special inter-provincial team challenge for these categories. This event will be played off on the Newcastle Road, Dublin on March 5. To this end, youths’ officer, David Murphy with Gretta Cormican, and chair, Michael Brennan, have organised a trial session at Castletownkenneigh on Saturday morning next for the purpose of selecting Cork’s and Munster’s four best in each of the categories Boy’s U12 and U14 and girls U12 and U14. All affiliated bowlers are welcome, and the set timeframe is 10.00am for boys U14; 10.45am boys U12; 11.30am Girls U12 and U14. In the finals at Newcastle, the four selected in each age-group will play as a team in competition with teams from Ulster, Connaught and Leinster. The format for the finals will be similar to that used in the recent adult competitions at Castletownkenneigh (longest shot is team score).
Delegates at the February meeting were given an outline on the programme of events for the 16th European Championships which will be hosted by the German bowling association Verband Schleswig-Holsteiner Bosler (VSHB) at its headquarters in Meldorf in the third week of May. With the selection process complete Bol Chumann teams are in readiness and will be well-prepared for what promises to be a gruelling three days of competition. Following the arrival of the five competing teams (Bol Chumann, VSHB, NKB Holland, FKV, also Germany, ABIS, Italy) and supporters via Hamburg airport on Wednesday, May 25, there will a practice session on the bowling road at Suderhastedt on Thursday followed in the afternoon by the parade of competing nations and official opening at Meldorfer City Hall. Competitions begin on Friday 27 with the Dutch Moors event at Kaltenhorn starting with youth’s boys at 9.00am. Girls follow at 10.00am with senior women at 11.00am and senior men at 12.50pm. The winner’s presentation ceremony will take place on the competition grounds at 5.30pm. A similar timeframe will pertain for the German Loft discipline in Meldorf Stadium on Saturday May 28 and for the big one for the Irish, the Road Bowling event at Suderhastedt on Sunday. The Associations depart for home on Monday May 30.