David Murphy and Michael Bohane played out their eagerly anticipated first round senior clash before a fair-sized crowd at Lyre on Saturday evening and, while the contest may not have lived up to its heavyweight billing, it was nonetheless an engaging duel that stayed in the melting pot up close to the finishing line past ‘Knock’s cross’. Lyre is a road where a good start can often be central to the eventual outcome. Defending champion, Bohane, gave credence to this in his superb county final win over Seamus Sexton last year and David Murphy did likewise on Saturday last when the Caheragh native was on the receiving end. A brilliantly tracked opener gave the Brinny man a full bowl lead after Bohane’s brace away from the start line went left off the play. The catch-up game that followed was intriguing and there were moments when the defending champion looked like he might be about to close the gap significantly. His third and fourth cut the odds to sixty metres but a poor seventh undid that charge and Murphy still had the bones of a bowl in eight and nine to ‘Crowley’s corner’. Bohane came sight at McCarthy’s bend with a fine eleventh whereas Murphy was not out fully. Murphy compensated with a huge eleventh past ‘the wall’ that rose the shot of odds in full for the second time. Bohane did not relinquish easily and two big ones on the rise past the junior line brought the odds well under the bowl. Murphy needed a well-directed sixteenth to consolidate his advantage. That effort sealed his victory and a quarterfinal clash with Gary Daly beckons at Whitechurch. Murphy-Bohane carried a total stake of €5,640 with the Mid-Cork man the favourite with the punters.
In the intermediate first rounder at Terelton Andrew O’Callaghan turned in an inspired performance winning by a bowl from Paul Buckley. Going for a €2,160 total it was a trap-to-line win for the Mallow man whose opening two propelled him to a hundred metres lead. Buckley made inroads in the next exchanges but a big seventh to ‘Lehane’s restored a lengthy advantage for O’Callaghan. It was close to a bowl for the North Cork man after an excellent tenth tracked well on the left. Buckley narrowed the gap again with his twelfth only for O’Callaghan to line a perfect thirteenth to the ‘well gate’. With just two to go O’Callaghan had cushion enough to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Wayne Callanan at Inchigeelagh.
It was the ladies turn to produce a top-class senior championship shoot-out when Hannah Sexton and Geraldine Curtin went head-to-head in a group A contest at Grange on Thursday. At the end of a rip-roaring tie that saw fortunes sway on numerous occasions, defending champion, Hannah, survived a stern test with a last shot victory. After an even first quarter, Geraldine, thanks to a huge seventh, gained a hundred metre advantage approaching the ‘school-cross’. This transferred to a full bowl lead on the rise to ‘DeBarra’s’, but the junior line finish was still a distance away. Hannah’s response was immediate as a perfectly drilled cast across the novice line wiped out her opponents lead and put her back in front playing to ‘Holland’s wall’. Geraldine regained the lead in the next exchange, but Hannah fired a sublime second last that looked to have put the issue beyond doubt. The former champion showed resilience on following to within metres but her last did not run and Hannah’s unique championship record remains intact as she took the vital point. Veronica O’Mahony and Emma Fitzpatrick are also involved in group A.
In the first of the women’s intermediate quarterfinals played at The Clubhouse on Sunday morning, Hannah Cronin prevailed in a hard-fought set-to with Rachel Kingston. Hannah’s bright opening saw her close to a bowl up by the ‘chip’s’. Rachel made inroads with big shots through ‘Clon cross’ and led by a metre at ‘Murray’s’. The next exchanges were decisive. Hannah tracked a beauty towards ‘O’Riordan’s’ whereas Rachel got no purchase on her response after it whipped left off the play. Hard as the European winner tried, she could not overhaul her determined Togher Cross rival and it is Hannah who goes through to the last four and a meeting with Ciara Buckley at Clondrohid.
The first of the Mid Cork junior A semi-finals for 2023 had Denis Wilmot and Sean Murphy in opposition at Jagoe’s Mills on Friday evening. The pair delivered an epic duel filled with bowling of the highest order. Murphy held early leeway thanks to an outstanding start that had him close to a bowl up by the ‘footpath’. A series of terrific exchanges followed as Wilmot defiantly beat big tips to hold off the bowl deficit and his perseverance paid when he took a sensational first-time lead nearing ‘Ballinvard cross’. Murphy rallied but the Bandon man held his ground to win in a grandstand finish. They played for a total of €3,700. Wilmot plays David O’Mahony in the decider at a venue to be decided. O’Mahony won the second semi at Beal an mBlath on Saturday coming from a bowl of odds down to deny Kieran Murphy by the fore bowl. This contest carried a €2,300 total stake.
Meanwhile, mid-week, another chapter in Mick Murphy’s success story playing in bowling’s elder grades was written at Templemartin on Tuesday when the ageless Innishannon man captured his region’s novice veteran championship for the current season. Facing Deccie O’Mahony, a man of a thousand scores, Murphy was away from the start to a big lead at Slynne’s corner. He was aided by an off-colour performance from O’Mahony who did not replicate his excellent semi-final showing that had him close to the same juncture in four against Ger O’Leary. Murphy needed no second invitation to steam ahead, and his overall tally of twelve to the ‘school-house cross’ represented excellent figures for the road. Mid Cork has a dual under-age champion after Rosin Allen won a thrilling U16 shoot-out with Anna Deane at Castletownknneigh on Thursday. Already the U18 winner, the Newcestown girl had to fight tooth and nail to stay ahead of a gallant Anna. It was a last shot finish at Castletown. In Mid novice D at Ballinacurra, Upton on Tuesday, Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Jerome O’Mahony, last shot, for €1,600. Back the road, here, Chris Hayes defeated Jerome O’Mahony, last shot, for €440. In the same grade at Newcestown, Damien Healy defeated David Desmond by a bowl for €740. In novice C at Newcestown, Conor O’Donovan defeated Padraigh O’Callaghan, last shot, for €1,600 and in novice A, Chris Murphy defeated Kevin Coughlan, one bowl, for €1,400. In a cracking novice D score at Ballinacurra on Saturday, Fionn Dwyer defeated Michael Hickey, last shot, for €2,920. Back here, Chris Hayes defeated Dean Cowhig for a €900 total. In novice D at Beal na mBlath, Barry Murphy defeated Thomas Maloney.
West Cork’s championships continue apace. Two of the regions greatest engaged in a junior veteran play-off at Ballinacarriga on Saturday evening. Chris O’Donovan and Christy Mullins have been performing at a high level for many decades and produced a stirring duel that sparkled from start to finish. Mullins’ opening two were of the highest order and he forged into a bowl lead which he held to ‘Finn’s corner’ in five. Beating some big tips, the Bantry native held his advantage to ‘Hehir’s’ but could do little with an explosive sequence from there by O’Donovan. An All-Ireland winner in the grade ten years ago, the Ballineen man hit four of the finest to wipe out the deficit and claim the victory by a big fore bowl. Chris plays the North-East champion in the county quarterfinal at Castletownkenneigh.
In the junior C championship at Drinagh, Liam Hurley came from a bowl down to defeat Sean O’Regan for a €2,200 total stake. Bowling out from the village, O’Regan’s bright start had him a bowl to the good at ‘Shandrum cross’ but a lapse in form from there, and a strong finish from Hurley turned it around. In U14 here, Eoghan Hickey from Durrus and Shane Coughlan, Shanaway, had a good battle. It ended with Hickey a winner by a few metres. Bantry remains a hive of activity. Emma Hurley bowled brilliantly to win the U16 final there on Friday. Kimi Bosna from Togher Cross, was in splendid form too and a lively set-to ended with, Emma, the 2022 U14 county winner from Drinagh, taking the title with a stirring finish. Emma plays North Cork champion, Jenna Healy, in the county quarterfinal at Clondrohid. Emma is on the march too in U18 and won her first round contest in this category from Niamh O’Connell at Drimoleague on Sunday.
Also, at Bantry in boys U12 quarterfinal scores, Eoghan Hickey won from Rory Hurley, Tommy Coppinger won from Cillian Murphy and Jamie Wiseman won from Conor O’Sullivan. In girls U12, Alyesha Daly won from Chloe O’Farrell; Cait Young won from Ava Hurley; Grace O’Sullivan won from Nicola Hurley and Caoimhe Hurley won from Ava Healy. In a big novice A clash at Derrinasafa, Chris Cronin defeated Frank Arundel, one bowl, for €300 and in U14 here, Oisin Wiseman defeated Leo Arundel. In the novice veteran section B play-off at The Clubhouse on Wednesday, Bantry’s Damien Hurley won a cracking score with John Murphy, Togher Cross. For a €700 total, Murphy held odds of close to a bowl by the ‘chips’ and was still well ahead in the shots from ‘Clon cross’. Hurley’s piledriver from ‘Murray’s pillar’s’ swung it his way and the Bantry man was a convincing winner at the end. Hurley plays the winner of this week’s meeting of Connie Connolly and Patsy O’Sullivan for the right to represent the region in the county novice veteran championship. In U18 at The Clubhouse, James Russell defeated Kieran O’Sullivan. After a brilliant opening shot things went downhill for O’Sullivan but Russell’s overall showing indicated a real contender in this grade. In novice D at Ballinacarriga, Finian Hurley defeated Morgan Hickey and in U18 here, Eoin Hurley won from Colin Arundel.
In the South-West division novice veteran, section A winner, Ger Fitzpatrick will play B winner, Danny O’Brien in the overall final. Fitzpatrick won his play-off with Donal Desmond while O’Brien kept Ballygurteen club’s interest alive with an impressive performance at Fisher’s Cross on Monday when he scored a two-bowl victory over Seamus White. The played for a total of €1,640. In novice D at Lyre, Richie Lawton defeated Toss Ahern. In the South-West novice B semi-final at Grange on Sunday, Ballineen’s Eoin McCarthy defeated Shane Nugent for €2,200.
Darcy O’Brien and Tara Twomey will contest the Gaeltacht U16 final after hard-earned wins at Ballyvourney at the weekend. County runner-up last year, Darcy, edged Orla Murphy while Tara just got the better of Kayla Healy. On a busy week of under-age action in the Gaeltacht, Jack O’Sullivan defeated Sean Og Coleman and Owen Moynahin won from Evan O’Riordan also in U16 and in U12, Keegan Creedon won a three-way with Colm Og O’Leary and Sean McCarthy. U16 champion last year, Liam Murphy is making waves in U18 and won his quarterfinal contest with Liam Twomey at Macroom. In the novice A championship at Ballyvourney, 2018 All-Ireland U18 winner, Colm McLoughlin won a great contest with Amhlaoibh Lynch. In novice C at Terelton, Leap native, Adrian O’Driscoll defeated Brian Corcoran and Denis Paul Bradley defeated Martin Cotter. In D here, Michael Murphy defeated Dan O’Mahony. Regional secretary, Michael Masters won his novice D contest with Brian Kiely at Clondrohid.
Noel Gould is the City junior B champion after his victory over James O’Sullivan at Curraheen on Tuesday. He plays Gaeltacht winner, Terry Mallon in a preliminary round score at Beal an Morrive. Back the road at Curraheen, Evan Buckley defeated Paul Murphy by a bowl for €1,200. In novice veteran at Paddoes, Birol Kat defeated Pascal Bowen. In a doubles back here, Declan O’Leary and Bernard O’Donovan defeated Evan and Ryan Buckley, last shot, for 700. In the City division, novice A, at The Bog Road, Mark Long defeated Declan O’Leary by a bowl and Myles Connors defeated Garret Bourke by a bowl for €1,300. In the novice B championship at Templemichael, John Linehan defeated Stephen Bowen last shot. Bowen avenged that defeat with a last shot win over Linehan in the return played for €600. Here too, also in novice B, Bernard O’Donovan, Ballygarvan, defeated U18 champion, Paddy McCarthy, and, in a doubles contest, Denis Connolly/Bernard O’Donovan (Bog Road) defeated Ryan Buckley/James McCarthy, last shot, for €1,900. At Curraheen, Kieran Corrigan defeated Paul Butler, by a bowl for €1,400 and Denis Connolly defeated Paul Butler, last shot, for €1,300. The City region mourned the passing of Frank Horgan, Cloghroe, brother of noted bowlplayer, Senan. Frank, who hailed from a great City heartland of the sport, was a life-long follower of bowling. Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam.
In North Cork on Monday at Beal na Morrive novice C, Liam McCarthy defeated Tom Dennehy. On the same evening in an U16 semi-final, Ronan Murphy won from Aaron Crowley. Also here, on Monday, Donnacha Spillane defeated Oisin Fogerty for an €800 total. At Bweeng on the following evening, Shane Dennehy ensured his place in the U16 final when he defeated Jonathan O’Callaghan who was a splendid county U14 runner-up last year. At Ballinagree on Wednesday in novice D, Brendan Cotter defeated Jerry Hubbard thanks to a big bowl to sight at the mid-way point. Their contest carried a €1,900 total. Back the road, Mickey McAuliffe defeated Jack Oldham last shot, for €1,200. On Sunday here in novice D, Denis Murphy defeated Alan Sexton. In club action at Ballinagree, Dermot Crowley defeated Jack O’Callaghan by two bowls in a tournament semi-final contest played for a €3,000 total and, back the road, Jack Oldham defeated Ger O’Leary by a bowl for €1,600. Later in the day here, in a junior contest, Michael Murphy defeated David Hubbard by a bowl for €3,040 and in the novice D championship Denis Murphy defeated Alan Sexton by a bowl for €500. In a club score at Ballyvourney, Anthony Lynch defeated Sean Kiely, last shot, for €2,400. In North-East junior B at Grenagh, Tom O’Callaghan defeated Andrew O’Leary, last shot, for €2,000. This was a cracking contest that ended with O’Callaghan beat a massive last shot from the former senior standard-bearer. Also, at Grenagh in novice veteran semi-final, Michael Gould defeated Paddy Kinsella. At Carrignavar in novice A, Stephen Sexton defeated Eugene Hanley by two for €600 and Jamie McDonagh defeated Brian Quinlan by a bowl for €800. At Glenabo in novice veteran, Eugene Hanley defeated Tom Allen by a bowl for €940.
The East Cork region, have confirmed the dates for the King and Queen of the Road festival 2023. They will be held on 22 to 24 September.