Navan Road Bowls Club has been a thriving entity in Ulster bowling since 1990 and they haven’t been slow to showcase their talents in sojourns southwards in recent times. Pre-Covid trips to Rosscarbery have whetted the appetite and little persuasion was needed for a return to Lyre on Sunday last where the northerners engaged in two high-profile clashes with emerging stars on the local scene. It proved a profitable visit as All-Ireland junior C champion, Aaron Hughes, won a thrilling battle with fellow teenager, 2020 U16 All-Ireland winner, Tom O’Sullivan for an €8,000 total and Austin McKeown defeated Cork’s county novice D winner, Darren Kelly for a €6,400 combined stake. Hughes and O’Sullivan fought it tooth and nail. The south-west youth recovered from a poor opener to forge ahead in brilliant bowling and held what looked like winning law throwing the last shots. Hughes dug deep and sent the proverbial ‘rocket’ up the rising road and it won the day by fifteen metres when O’Sullivan’s brave reply fell fifteen metres short.
McKeown too came from arrears to deny Kelly in the last shot of their contest. In a busy period at Lyre, Enniskeane’s Brendan O’Neill took on Conor Creedon, Ballyvourney on Saturday week. The Gaeltacht man was favourite in the €2,600 total stake and was on the front foot after a super second shot to the ‘forest entrance’. He rose a bowl of odds after seven but failed to drive home his advantage firing a very poor eighth. The Enniskeane man, sensing his moment would come, narrowed the gap and came ahead with a fine eleventh cast to ‘McCarthy’s bend’. It was a decisive turn and O’Neill beat a big twelfth of Creedon’s as he finished strongly to take the verdict by a big fore bowl.
In a return here, the Gaeltacht men were on the winning side when the youthful Cathal Creedon defeated Deccie O’Mahony. On Sunday week at Lyre, junior A and novice C tournaments progressed. For the second Sunday running, David Hubbard was in the winner’s enclosure. In very mixed fare, the Beal naMorrive man finally put daylight between himself and Alex O’Donovan with a good cast to ‘McCarthy’s corner’ and it was enough for victory from their junior A tournament second round fixture. They played for a total of€5,200. Martin Murphy, Togher Cross just edged a tight novice C contest with Shane Buttimer on the same day. The stake in this one amounted to €1,000.
When Donnacha O’Brien closed on ‘the bridge’ at Bauravilla in nine super shots on his way to a John Joe Murphy Cup victory over David Shannon in one of the last scores before the first lockdown in March 2020, it signalled a man in form. Unfortunately for the Drinagh man, the intervening period brought a downturn and Jimmy O’Driscoll was the master when they met in the competition quarterfinal on Sunday last. The Clon man, this time gave a fine display, hitting the ‘rock’ in eight, two bowls up and extending his lead in three more to the ’bridge’. They played for a total of €2,200. O’Driscoll joins Mick Hurley in the last four with the winners of James Nagle v David Hubbard and next Sunday’s clash of John Young and Tony O’Sullivan to join them.
Almost spring-like conditions at Castletownkenneigh on Sunday morning last greeted up to forty bowlers aiming for places in Bol Chumann’s international teams. The European Championships at Garding are just six months down the road and the Road Bowling trials have commenced and will continue on Sunday’s 21st and 28th. Setting early markers on the road were senior men, Gary Daly, Brian Wilmot, Michael Bohane; Boys U18, Darragh Dempsey and Jamie Kelleher; senior women, Hannah Sexton and Hannah Cronin; U18 girls, Rachel Kingston Margaret Sexton.
The intermediate women’s winter tournament resumed at the weekend. Newcestown on Saturday hosted the meeting of Juliette Murphy and Lisa Hegarty and an interesting set-to it proved to be. The former Cork football great did not make the best of starts here and her Lyre opponent was ahead in the early stages. Lisa, did not, however, take full advantage and the contest evened out at ‘O’Brien’s cross’. From there, Murphy found her form lining four of the best to put winning law between them. Juliette won by a bowl for €300. In the vintage championship section C at Ballinacurra on Sunday, Tom O’Donovan, Crossbarry, won from Martin Desmond by a bowl for €740. In the B section at Drinagh, a battle of the Derryclough O’Driscoll cousins, Liam won from James. Also, in section B at Togher Cross, Patsy O’Sullivan, Kealkil, was in good form in his win over Connie Connolly. In vintage C (1) at Gortroe, Joe Walsh defeated Martin Kelleher and Eddie Barry defeated Denis O’Leary.
A stand-out performance of the weekend came from young Brian O’Driscoll at The Clubhouse where in his West Cork U18 quarterfinal joust with Sean Cronin, he produced a performance of exceptional class and quality. Three perfect deliveries had him full sight at ‘O’Brien’s corner’ and, when he followed up with two more to ‘Clon cross’ his bowling for that particular stretch was of record-breaking proportions. Sean Cronin would have been in contention against most but O’Driscoll’s lead at this point was unassailable. Con O’Sullivan is another going well in U18, and he advanced to the last four with victory at Drimoleague against Alan Crowley. In the boys U12 semi-finals at Bantry, Oisin Murray won from Shane Coughlan and Conor Hourihane won from Patrick Crowley. At Derrinasafa in novice C, John O’Regan defeated Stephen Daly.
In the West Cork Junior B round-robin series at Togher Cross on Sunday week, Adrian Buttimer shaded a cracking contest with Drinagh’s John Young. For a €1,100 total, Young drove a splendid opener that gave him a bowl lead but, on the straight stretch down to the ‘chips corner’, Buttimer reeled it in and forged in front by a few metres. The lead changed on numerous occasions as they strove for supremacy before Buttimer, from hind at ‘Derrinacahara school’ fired a big one that gave him odds enough to take the verdict in the last shot. In novice B at Drimoleague, David O’Brien came from arrears to win his quarterfinal battle with David Horgan. For an €800 total, Horgan settled fast and had handy law after four, but from there to the finish, O’Brien was in control.
The Mid Cork junior B semi-final at Newcestown attracted a good crowd on Sunday last and resulted in a victory for Enniskeane contender, Brendan O’Neill. Templemartin’s Killian O’Sullivan was well in contention firing good shots to ‘Allen’s lane’ and again at ‘Lucey’s’ where he led by a small margin. A short one at ‘Fehily’s’ was his undoing and O’Neill, with an error-free sequence, built a commanding lead by ‘O’Brien’s’ cross. Either Ger O’Driscoll or Kenneth Murphy will oppose O’Neill in the junior B final. Back Newcestown on Sunday, John Madden defeated Michael Brennan, by a bowl for €2,000. James Kelleher, after a busy few weeks with Newcestown senior hurlers, was back in the bowling game last weekend but surprisingly lost out to P J McCarthy in his novice B semi-final played at Templemartin on Saturday. Kelleher, very much the favourite, did make the best of starts but recovered to come within metres of his Kinsale rival for the last shots. His final effort did not run well, and it is McCarthy who goes through. In the Mid-Cork novice D semi-final at Dunderrow, Fionn Dwyer defeated Kevin O’Sullivan by a bowl for €1,500 and will play Michael Hickey in the decider. In Mid junior ladies, Martina Foley won from Siobhan Kelleher.
Reagiún na Gaeltachta had scores at Baile Bhuirne where, in the novice E category, local, Mickie O’Callaghan won from John O’Callaghan, Terelton and Charlie Kenneally, Macroom defeated Donal O’Shea, Clondrohid. At Terelton in novice B, Donal Og O’Leary got the better of Denis Bradley. In novice veteran at Baile Bhuirne, Niall Murphy of Clondrohid got the better of John O’Callaghan, Terelton and here too in junior ladies, Karen Dromey won from Rachel Desmond. In the North Cork junior A semi-final, Vincent Kiely, defeated Pat Spillane at Gortroe and will play David Hubbard in the decider on this Sunday.
Bol Chumann Ladies Committee held their first AGM in two years at Avenue House on Tuesday 9. A good representative gathering attended and Association chair, Michael Brennan, praised the Committee for completing their Covid interrupted 2020 championship programme, the completion of regional championships for 2021 and the introduction of a series of winter league competitions that will be ongoing over the coming months. Significantly too, after almost a quarter of a century in the role, Susan Greene announced her resignation as chair of the women’s Committee. Susan thanked her fellow officers, particularly her long-time ally, Gretta Cormican, with whom she had formed a strong bond over the years. She wished the ladies well for the future and offered her assistance in any capacity should it be required. New chairperson of Bol Chumann ladies is Caroline O’Leary who was unanimously selected to replace Ms Greene. Caroline, very active for many years in her local Castletownkenneigh bowling club and within the Mid Cork region brings experience and practicality to the role and is a popular choice. Vice-chair is Bernadette Murphy, also from Mid Cork and from a family steeped in the traditions of the game. Gretta Cormican, central to so much in women’s bowling, continues as Secretary while there is also a change in the Treasurer’s position. Former senior champion, Geraldine Curtin, has relinquished this post after many years of sterling service and stepping in is Emer Wilmot of Bandon, also a long-serving member of the Women’s Committee. Delegates to Convention are Emma Fitzpatrick, Emer Wilmot and Caroline O’Leary.