Mick Barry Cup King of the Roads qualifiers and another raft of junior C and novice inter-regional round scores as well as the Drimoleague fund-raisers made for a busy week. Also on the agenda was the Hers Outdoors Sport Ireland initiative embraced by Bol Chumann’s ladies committee who organised an enjoyable two-hour Moors Bowling and German Loft session at Castletownkenneigh on Thursday evening. This was a hugely enjoyable and worthwhile venture and among those trying their hand in the non-competitive setting were a number of enthusiastic newcomers from all age groups which bodes well for future competitive events and international trials. Shining brightly of course were established stars, County senior champion Hannah Sexton, recently nominated for Celtic Ross Sports Star Award for the second time and her sister Margaret. Showing splendid adaptability too were the Newcestown Allen sisters, Ciara and Rosin.
A 9.00am throw-off is somewhat of a rarity in bowling circles but that is what circumstances required at Ballincurrig and James O’Donovan and Eamonn Bowen were prompt in their timekeeping for last Sunday’s Mick Barry Cup contest. After a bright start, Bowen held a slender lead as they played to the no-play lines. O’Donovan began to dominate after firing a big eighth on the long straight and he eventually rose a bowl of odds with his eleventh. It was a strong performance from the Bandon man as he beat the line in fifteen on his way to a two-bowl victory. They played for a total of €1,200. The Bandonian will be hoping for a repeat of this form on Sunday next when a local engagement of some significance will take centre stage. The final of Grange bowling clubs Willie Whelton Cup senior tournament will take place on the Lislevane road starting at 2.30pm. O’Donovan, a two-time winner of the competition, will defend against Martin Coppinger in what should be a monumental confrontation. O’Donovan took the victory in their most recent set-to at Bantry and has an enviable record on the road, but Coppinger has shown at Ballincurrig and on occasion at Drimoleague on Sunday last that he has the wherewithal to dominate all comers.
Back at Ballincurrig and still in the forenoon on Sunday last, Killian Kingston and John O’Rourke then enjoined in the days second King of the Roads qualifier and a ferocious battle for supremacy ensued. Kingston lost his big early lead with a poor throw on the ‘straight’ and it looked to be going O’Rourke’s way as he led by forty metres in the shots away from the ‘big turn’. A magnificent sixteenth shot to the last bend swung momentum back Kingston way and he showed composure then to beat a big last tip of O’Rourke’s to gain the narrowest of victories. The stake at issue amounted to €3,200. The Jim O’Driscoll Cup qualifiers had two scores at Ballincurrig on Saturday. In the first of these, Michael O’Donoghue defeated county junior A runner-up, Timmie McDonagh in the last shot for €2,800 while the second contest saw north Cork’s Andrew O’Callaghan defeat Mayo based Willie O’Donovan by almost a bowl for €3,800.
The feature score in the Drimoleague family fund-raisers saw a return to the Hawthorn road for the much anticipated doubles joust involving Bantry natives, Martin Coppinger and Tim Young taking on the formidable Fermoy duo, Gary Daly and Patrick Flood. After Tim Young missed a beatable opening tip, Martin Coppinger showed his paces with astonishing second and fourth shots that gave the West Cork men the platform for victory. Young contributed too with a smashing fifth as they rose a bowl of odds in the bowling through ‘the wood’. Daly and Flood made a right fight of it on the wide road towards ‘O’Driscoll’s’ but Young’s big one over the line staved off a last shot finish. They played for a total of €7,000. On the way back, Patrick O’Brien defeated local, Brian O’Driscoll, by two bowls for a combined €22,140.
The junior C and novice county rounds are heading for the final stages. With a narrow timeframe from now to the first weekend in September when the All-Ireland series at Fenor, Co. Waterford takes place, the cooperation of players in fulfilling fixtures is essential. Cill na Martra powerhouse, Micheal Desmond took a big step in the novice A title race with a thrilling last shot victory over South West’s John O’Driscoll at The Clubhouse on Thursday evening. Both possess ability far above the novice grade when at their best and this was evident in some outstanding exchanges but so too was the odd misjudgement that would have a vital bearing on the outcome. Desmond was the punters favourite in the €6,500 total stake and promptly delivered a ferocious opening brace that gave him an outside chance of ‘making sight’ at ‘the chips’ in three. He didn’t make it with his third and O’Driscoll wasn’t long in levelling and indeed forging in front with a smashing fourth. A golden chance came the Clon man’s way when a misdirected fifth from Desmond caught the right-hand grass, but that opportunity went a begging when O’Driscoll too misplayed only beating the tip by a small margin. O’Driscoll looked to have vital law at ‘Clon cross’ but Desmond produced a miracle shot right around ‘Murray’s bend’ to stave off danger. The shot for shot duel continued and when O’Driscoll fired a sublime second last to within metres of the line it gave him a handy forty metre at a vital juncture. Defiantly, Desmond fired a magnificent effort, and it won the day when O’Driscoll’s well-played reply drifted right at the last moment. West Cork’s Paul Kingston or Mid’s John Anthony Murphy await in the final.
Beal na mBlath’s Denis Murphy is through to the county junior C final after his penultimate round victory over West Cork’s Kevin Cotter at Ballygurteen on Saturday evening. Going for a €5,000 total, the bowling was mixed in the early stages as Cotter held sway but not by a big margin. Murphy fired a huge seventh and would not be headed again. The Mid Cork champion rose a bowl of odds after twelve past ‘Oakmount avenue’ and, with little going right for Cotter, the margin soon doubled. Murphy will play either David Hegarty (South West) or Thomas O’Callaghan (North East) in the county decider. Terelton’s triple-header on Saturday saw Mid and North Cork champions clash in novice A, B, and D county quarterfinals. In the B contest Mid’s Jack O’Callaghan had a resounding win from North’s Eamonn Murphy conceding only one fore bowl in a two-shot victory. For a €7,640 total, the Castletownkenneigh man’s second put him almost a bowl clear, and he repelled the best that Murphy could throw at him thereafter. O’Callaghan plays East Cork’s Sean O’Leary in the county semi at Firmount.
Mid came out on top too in the novice A shoot-out when John A Murphy eclipsed Kevin Manning in the last shot of a well-contested encounter. The stake at issue amounted to €3,600 as Manning made a break with two big openers to lead by seventy metres only to undo his good work with a poor fifth. They stayed locked together to the ‘Bell Inn’ before Murphy took a valuable fifty metre lead at the three-quarter stage. It was enough of a cushion to salvage the victory and a Shannonvale semi-final spot against West Cork’s Paul Kingston. North got their victory when a very strong novice D exponent, Ruairi O’Connell got the verdict against Brendan Hurley of Dunderrow. For a €2,000 total, O’Connell’s a massive opener gave him a bowl lead and, when he doubled that by the half-way point there was no way back for the Mid Cork champion. O’Connell plays West Cork’s Luke Cato in the county semi at Ballyvourney. Through to the novice D county decider is Gaeltacht’s Mattie McDonagh after his county semi-final win over City’s Noel Hegarty at Bweeng on Sunday morning. Also, at Bweeng, Darren Kelly of the Gaeltacht won his novice B semi-final joust with City’s Mark Long. In arrears early, Kelly fired a massive fourth shot that gave him a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. They played for a €1,500 total. Jack O’Callaghan (Mid) or Sean O’Leary (East) will be Kelly’s final opponent.
Gaeltacht’s junior C and novice C representatives engaged with their North East rivals at Beal na Morrive on Wednesday but surprisingly in a year of much success for the region, both their champions eliminated. Glenville man, Thomas O’Callaghan, runner-up to Louth’s Gary Shevlin in the 2012 novice 1 All-Ireland at Drogheda, led from the start against Gaeltacht’s Jim Coffey in the county junior C quarterfinal. It was a nip and tuck affair with O’Callaghan rising a bowl early on only to have his odds reduced to thirty metres for the closing shots. In mixed bowling O’Callaghan held on to book a semi-final meeting with South-West’s David Hegarty at Ballinacurra, Upton. The Beal an Morrive contest did not carry a stake. There was an upturn in novice C at Beal na Morrive when Sean Paul McDonagh (North East) defeated Gaeltacht’s strong challenger, U18 county runner-up, Cillian Kelleher. McDonagh’s accuracy was the deciding factor here. He meets City’s Alan Murphy in the semi-final. At Jagoe’s on Monday West Cork’s champions scored a double over their East Cork/West Waterford counterparts in the novice C and D quarterfinal rounds.
In novice C, Kealkil’s Con Collins was too good for Kevin Lennon. After poor openers from both Collins went on to dominate and won by two bowls. He meets Mid Cork’s Dan O’Donovan in the semi-final. Dan was consistent at Timoleague on Sunday morning when getting the better of Carbery’s well-backed champion, David Minihane for an €800 total. The Leap man’s second and third did not run kindly and a bowl of odds came between them after four. O’Donovan’s accuracy was commendable as he looked to increase his lead with a big sixth. Minihane kept it competitive with a huge cast to ‘Barryshall cross’ but O’Donovan would not be denied after another big one past the ‘monument’. In novice D at Jagoe’s, West Cork’s Luke Cato and East’s Joe Taylor had a good battle for a €640 stake. Cato emerged the winner in the last shot. The Dunmanway man now has a semi-final engagement with North Cork’s Ruairi O’Connell. Mattie McDonagh has secured a novice D county final spot after a hard-earned victory over City’s Noel Hegarty at Bweeng on Sunday morning. For a €2,000 total, McDonagh led all the way but never by a big margin as Hegarty fought it to the finish.