On a busy weekend of championship action, county and regional championships progressed apace. The clash of the first round in the senior championship was the meeting of James O’Donovan and David Murphy at Beal na mBlath. The Mid Cork club had everything in place for a first senior fixture at their changed venue and the sizable attendance witnessed a highly competitive contest for much of the way. As he did in their quarterfinal meeting last year at Derrinasafa, O’Donovan produced a stirring finish to win the day by a bowl of odds. Going off for a combined €4,340 neither got much purchase on their opening shots and that trend continued on the difficult surface as well-played attempts were quickly whipped off. O’Donovan made a break at ‘Bradfields’s cross’ rising a hundred metres with a super sixth and, when he followed an excellent eighth from Murphy with another piledriver, his advantage was maintained. Murphy continued to challenge and had the lead back to sixty metres after twelve, but it was as close as it got. O’Donovan hit two specials past ‘Mossgrove creamery’ that effectively sealed this win. His fifteenth and sixteenth of the score were two of his best taking him from a marginal lead to an unassailable big bowl of odds advantage as they neared the line. James O’Donovan plays Michael Bohane in the county quarterfinal at Derrinasafa.
The North Cork senior derby resulted in victory for Seamus Sexton over his Rylane rival, John O’Rourke who was making his championship debut in the grade having vanquished all before him in the intermediate championship last year. The step up proved a step too far on this occasion as Sexton, an important cog in Bol Chumann’s senior men’s panel in a fortnight’s time in Germany, largely dominated from the second shot onwards. Going for a €3,400 total, Sexton’s opener was a massive effort and yielded an eighty-metre advantage. O’Rourke rose to that challenge well firing a magnificent second effort that not only wiped out the deficit but put him in the ascendancy for a brief period. Sexton came back with a super sixth past ‘Buckley’s cross’ and it pushed him a bowl clear when O’Rourke misplayed. Sexton stretched his lead in the ensuing exchanges before O’Rourke narrowed the gap to eighty metres at the three-quarter point. A big throw past the ‘novice line’ ensured Sexton a quarterfinal place by almost a bowl of odds. He now plays Aidan Murphy in the quarterfinals at Clondrohid.
The unfortunate Killian Kingston suffered another season defining injury ahead of his contest with Arthur McDonagh at Whitechurch on Saturday. A hamstring pull put paid to his bid for a place on Bol Chumann’s panel for Germany a few months back and on Saturday, a hand wound just hours before his scheduled clash with the All-Ireland champion, leaves McDonagh through to a quarterfinal meeting with Gary Daly at Carrignavar.
A plucky decision by Tim Young to make a move upwards to intermediate ranks has paid off in spades. The Bantry man scored his second win in the 2022 title race with a bowl of odds victory over Billy McAuliffe at Clondrohid on Sunday. Young hit a magnificent cast to sight past ‘Geoff’s lane’ and it gave him leeway enough for a bowl of odds win. He joins fellow Bantry man, Donal O’Riordan in the last four with two from Wayne Callanan v Andrew O’Callaghan and Brian Wilmot v Patrick Flood to join them.
Alex O’Donovan is South-West junior A champion after an extraordinary ending to his deciding clash with Gavin Twohig at Ballygurteen on Wednesday. Down from intermediate, Rossmore man, Twohig, was overwhelming favourite and seemed to justify the punters evaluation with a sweeping opening shot that had him throwing odds on thirty metres with his second. Crucially, he didn’t make ‘sight’ with that attempt and O’Donovan had the margin back to ten metres after three. Still, Twohig was the dominant force and came with a big sixth to the ‘women’s lane’ to rise a bowl of odds. O’Donovan’s cause seemed lost when another big one from the Rossmore man to ‘Oakmount avenue’ put almost two between them, but the 2015 U18 champion from Shannonvale, having ousted another hot contender, Wayne Parkes, in a previous round, has no fear of adversity and set about a comeback rally that fairly astounded the travelling support. Gavin Twohig did not do a lot wrong in the shots to the bend, but O’Donovan was closing the gap and had it down to fifty metres as they played to ‘Burke’s’. The former intermediate champion lost his grip on this score when O’Donovan lined an immaculate sixteenth to take a sensational lead and the transformation was complete when the Shannonvale man won that last vital exchange. They played for a total of €1,300. Alex O’Donovan plays North-East champion, Timmie McDonagh (Jun) in the county quarterfinal at Carrigaline. Ted Hegarty with eight splendid shots to ‘Desmond’s corner’ won the South-West junior veterans final at Shannonvale on Friday. For a €1,400 total, the Lyre man’s fine start propelled him to a two-bowl victory over Kieran O’Driscoll. In South-West junior B at Lyre, Johnny O’Driscoll all but guaranteed himself a place in the regional decider with a third round-robin win this time over Ger Connolly. For a €1,500 total, O’Driscoll was close to two bowls up near the finish. Denis O’Sullivan is going well too and won his contest, also at Lyre, with Seamus O’Sullivan by a bowl. In other South-West regional action, P J Hegarty won his D first rounder with Denis McSweeney at The Pike and at Timoleague, in the same grade, Alan Murphy won in the last shot from Mike Kiely and Toss Ahern won from Joseph Hennessy. Also, at The Pike where the South-West novice veteran championships are hosted, Brendan O’Sullivan won from Timmie Hennessy; Toss Ahern won from Seamus White and Denis O’Donovan won from Pat Joe Sheehy. In novice B at Shannonvale, Stephen O’Connell defeated Enda Conneally. In the novice A championship Fisher’s Cross, Ivan Buchannon inflicted a second round-robin defeat on John Connolly. There was a double for the Ballygurteen McCarthy’s brothers at Grange as Shane won his novice D encounter with Noel Murphy and Garoid won in novice C from Eric Harrington.
In Mid Cork it’s down to the final in Junior A after Germany bound, Tom O’Donovan survived a mid-score scare against Dan O’Halloran at Templemartin on Thursday. Dan was the underdog against a youthful rival with loads of potential and it was the Belgooly player who went a shot clear in eight big shots to ‘Collin’s wall’. O’Halloran fought it well to the ‘schoolhouse cross’ where the margin was under the shot, and he closed it further with a fine effort down to the ‘stonefield bend’. O’Donovan rescued the situation with a huge throw, his thirteenth to ‘Buttimer’s’ and it restored his earlier advantage. He won by almost two and will play Sean Murphy in the Mid Cork junior A decider. In Mid Cork junior B at Jagoe’s Mills, John Butler defeated Noel O’Donovan. The Mid Cork girls U18 final was on at Castletownkenneigh on Sunday morning and here Ciara Allen scored a bowl of odds win from Niamh O’Callaghan. Ciara, 2020 county runner-up in U16, bowled well in the last quarter to take a hard-earned win. In Mid Cork novice C at Dunderrow, Kieran Kelly won from Pat Broderick. In novice C at Templemartin, Mark Courtney defeated Ronan O’Donovan by two for €1,600.
In West Cork championships junior C at Kealkil, Kevin Cotter won a tough duel with James Lordan to advance to the last four. They played for a total of €900. Sean O’Regan is through too after his win over Neil Crowley at Durrus as is Noel O’Regan after his defeat of Humphrey O’Leary at Togher Cross. In the novice veteran grade at Durrus, Patsy O’Sullivan overcame James O’Driscoll while in Ardcahan in the same competition, Damien Hurley won from Dinny Nyhan. In novice vet at Drinagh, Jim Cronin defeated Barry O’Donovan. Drinagh had a busy weekend as David Horgan moved to the semi-final of novice A with a win from Liam Young and in novice C, Johnny Collins won from local contender, Derrick Jagoe. Con Collins is going great guns in novice C and notched up another win on his home road against the formidable John O’Sullivan, Durrus.
At a busy Clubhouse venue, Stephen Hurley advanced to the novice A semi-final with victory over Finbarr Lynch and here too in U18, Brian Horgan won from James Russell. In West Cork novice A two likely contenders clashed at Drimoleague and it was Paul Kingston who advanced with victory from Sean O’Riordan. At Bantry in West Cork novice B, Padraigh O’Sullivan won from David Cotter in the last shot for an €800 total.
In other regional action, Germany bound, James Kelleher is through to the North Cork U18 final after a narrow victory over a game Alan McMahon at Ballinagree. In East Cork, a surprise of sorts as Michael Wall came with a five-star performance to defeat junior A finalist Mick Hurley in the East Cork veterans final. In the City division, Anthony Gould is junior B champion after his defeat of Declan Murphy in the decider at Carrigaline. They played for a total of €3,100.
In women’s senior, Bauravilla on Saturday, hosted the final Group A score and a cracking contest it proved to be. Claire O’Sullivan’s championship hopes are dashed despite a spirited showing, and it is Meghan Collins who moves to the last four along with Maria Nagle after a competitive three-score round-robin series. In Saturday’s encounter, Meghan took an early lead and then put in an exceptional finish to ward off Claire’s late charge. They played for a €1,200 total. In intermediate, Chloe O’Halloran gained her first point with victory from a cracking score with Julianne Hayes at Grange and in group D, Louise Daly’s win from Lisa Hegarty at Timoleague means the Lyre lady is out of contention. Former senior champion, Helen Whyte, Reenascreena, is out too after going down to Denise Murphy at Ballinacurra, Upton. A good score in which a few chances went a begging for the Carbery contender saw Denise forge in front in the last quarter and win by a bowl. She progresses now to the quarterfinals from Group C along with Gretta Cormican. A brilliant Group B contest at Newcestown saw Hannah Cronin emerge with the spoils after fourteen shots over the line gave her a bowl of odds victory over Ciara Buckley. In group A at Drinagh, Chloe O’Halloran gained her second point with victory over Emma Hickey.
In a correction to last week’s report on Ted Hegarty’s under-age finals at the Phale Road it was indeed, Eoghan Kelly of the Gaeltacht who won the U8 decider from West Cork’s Cillian Murray.