Michael Bohane is the new kingpin in Cork bowling. An explosive start at Lyre in the searing heat of Sunday last gave the Caheragh native the platform to achieve his greatest victory. Unheralded at the outset, Bohane has confounded the pundits in score after score showing confidence in his own ability and a steely determination too to overcome all obstacles and this was evident again in a powerhouse display at the South-West venue as he saw off the formidable challenge of European Gold Medal winner Seamus Sexton. Hitting the ground running has been the new champion’s hallmark throughout his triumphant campaign and this he most certainly did on Sunday last as, first off, he fired a ferocious opening shot that laid down a clear marker to his opponent. Seamus Sexton replicated his heroics in Germany in magnificent performances in the lead up to this decider most noticeably in his semi-final defeat of defending champion, Arthur McDonagh, and he had the edge too in his previous head-to heads with Bohane but taking three to pass his rivals’ opening mark was an early indicator that this was not going to be his day. Bohane piled it on increasing his lead with magnificent third and fifth shots, the latter following a super effort from Sexton who found form with a brilliant throw on the left-hand track. Although Bohane sixth was off the play, Sexton did not capitalize, and the margin stayed close to two bowls around the ‘double bends’. The north Cork challenge ignited briefly when Sexton hit excellent eleventh and twelfth shots to ‘McCarthy’s bend’ and on to the ‘big tree’ bringing the margin closer to the even shot. His follow-up did not run kindly and Bohane yielded no more. On the rise past the junior line, the Carbery man restored a lead of almost two bowls. A magnificent fifteenth through the four crosses close to the finish line sealed a first senior championship for Michael Bohane and the Carbery division. Lyre bowling club had everything in ship-shape and Association chair, Michael Brennan, wished the new champion well in his All-Ireland bid in two weeks’ time when he takes on Thomas Mackle at Newtownhamilton. The stake at Lyre amounted to €11,020 with Sexton the punter’s favourite. Thomas Mackle retained the Ulster senior championship at Newtown on Sunday last defeating Colm Rafferty by two bowls.
With bowling’s first All-Ireland series done and dusted for 2022, the focus turns to Newtownhamilton on August Bank Holiday weekend when Bol Chumann Ard Mhaca host seven national deciders in grades ranging from boy’s U12 to veteran men. As senior champion, Michael Bohane will lead the way for the Cork camp in the feature there, tried and tested and brimming with confidence having successfully negotiated a tough campaign down here. The same can be said of Munster’s champions in intermediate ladies, junior B and veteran men and our under-age trailblazers in the boy’s and girls U16 and boy’s U12 categories. Bar the senior men, the remaining championships are still ongoing with holiday arrangements, covid isolations and alternative sporting commitments making it difficult for those charged with ensuring timely completion. Juliette Murphy from Donoughmore who has iconic status in lady’s Gaelic football, is through to the intermediate final by virtue of her semi-final victory over Chloe O’Halloran at Baile Mhuirne on Tuesday evening last. Juliette, from a family steeped in the bowling tradition, has shown her expertise with the ‘28’ many times in the past, previously won All-Ireland honours in intermediate in 2007 and has been county senior runner-up on two occasions, is in a rich vein of form at present. She needed to be at her best to see off the game challenge of her Mid Cork rival, Chloe, at the Gaeltacht venue. Murphy led from the off but never by a big margin as both made big plays to the three-quarter stage. The former champion rose a bowl of odds with four to go and that was enough for a final spot. Juliette plays Denise Murphy from Ballinagree who won from Hannah Cronin at Castletownkenneigh on Sunday morning. The final is fixed for Bweeng.
In junior B men a big semi-final clash took place at Caheragh on Thursday. Denis O’Sullivan, the South-West champion, is through to the decider after a last shot victory over Peter Murray, the West Cork representative from Togher Cross. A tight affair for most of the way had Murray beating big tips to forge into a sixty-metre lead heading for ‘Madore’. The very strong O’Sullivan came ahead approaching the novice line and, in a mixed finish with both scattering a few, the South-West representative held on. They played for a total of €10,500. O’Sullivan will play Darragh Dempsey in the county junior B final at Togher Cross this Saturday at 3.00pm. The veteran’s championship has junior and novice county rounds going in tandem. The respective winner’s play-off to contest with the Ulster champion for the All-Ireland title in Newtown. Mark Burke is through to the junior final following his semi-final victory over Paul O’Brien at Grenagh. This was a superb battle for its entirety as the lead changed on numerous occasions. Burke’s last, a big one over the line, proved a winner. They played for a €4,600 total. He plays Noel Gould in that decider at Newcestown this week.
There is a bit to go in the novice veteran title-race. Carbery’s John O’Brien, a preliminary round winner at Clondrohid a few weeks back, will play East Cork’s Tony Murphy in the semi-final at Beal na mBlath. Dan O’Donovan the Mid Cork champion was forced to withdraw through injury. Last year’s runner-up, Tim Kelleher of the Gaeltacht division defeated City’s Denis Connolly in the second semi at Firmount on Sunday evening, last shot, for €1,700. Connolly survived a good test from South-West’s Donal Desmond at Castletownkenneigh mid-week. The City man won that quarterfinal in the last shot for a €1,800 total.
The three under-age grades with All-Ireland’s down for decision are also progressing albeit slowly. Mid Cork’s Ciara Allen, runner-up last year is back as regional champion for another tilt and won her quarterfinal joust with Carbery’s young champion, Emma O’Leary, at Togher Cross on Tuesday. Ciara now plays Darcy O’Brien of the Gaeltacht who won a tough quarterfinal from north Cork’s Rihanna Collins at Beal na mBlath on Sunday evening. Inevitably, one of the Sexton sisters, Timoleague is involved in the closing stages. Luara of the clan is carrying the South-West banner in this year’s U16 and was impressive in her semi-final win over West Cork’s fine champion, Emma Hurley at Rosscarbery on Sunday evening. Laura’s eight to the ‘priest’s house’ represented excellent bowling.
The boy’s U16 shoot out promises a thrilling climax. South-West’s Cillian Twohig is in the last four after winning his quarterfinal with North-East’s John O’Donoghue. Cillian meets West Cork’s Brian Horgan who blazed a trail through a difficult regional championship and has now surmounted the formidable challenge of East Cork’s Ben Cooney on the county quarterfinal. Played mid-week at Templemartin, Horgan’s opening piledriver set him on his way but, Cooney, with a couple of more years at this level, proved difficult to shake off. Horgan repelled his best in an impressive showing. The Horgan-Twohig semi-final is fixed for Caheragh. On the other side, Mid Cork’s Daniel Wilmot edged out Carbery’s fine champion, Shane McCarthy at Togher Cross and plays Gaeltacht’s Liam Murphy in the semi-final at The Clubhouse this week. North Cork’s Shane Dennehy beat City’s Jack O’Leary in a preliminary round at Ballyvourneny but then lost out to Gaeltacht’s Murphy in a superb quarterfinal at Beal na mBlath. This was a humdinger from start to finish with Murphy’s persistence and determination paying off as came from arrears to win the last shots for his only lead of the score.
In boy’s U12 there have been some impressive performances. West Cork’s Oisin Murray, is from the Ardcahan club as is county U14 winner, Daniel O’Sullivan, and has plenty of support in his quest for honours. He got over the quarterfinal hurdle with victory over East Cork champion, Cian Landers, at Templemartin mid-week. Oisin will contest with North-East’s Mickey McDonagh who won from South-West’s Darragh Ahern at Ballinacurra, Upton, on Sunday morning. On the other side, Ross O’Brien of the Gaeltacht won his quarterfinal from City’s Myles Connors at Beal na mBlath and will play Mid Cork’s Jack Allen in the semi. Jack won from Carbery’s champion, Brian Harrington at Togher Cross on Sunday evening.
In regional action in Mid Cork, Dan O’Donovan won the novice veteran final at Jagoe’s Mills on Wednesday. David Walsh was the opposition as the Belgooly man prevailed, but injury has now prevented Dan from competing in the county rounds. In the Mid Cork junior C championship, Denis Murphy, Beal na mBlath claimed the Judy Creedon Cup after a winning a highly competitive decider at Ballinacurra, Upton, on Saturday defeating Eugene Kiernan by a bowl of odds for a €4,600 total. Murphy’s huge cast past Brinny GAA pitch to Innishannon cross was the catalyst for this win. John Anthony Murphy is another championship winner in Mid Cork after his two-bowl victory over Paul Walsh in the novice A decider at Ballinacurra. For a €3,600 total Murphy’s massive seventh to ‘Perrot’s sheds’ set him on his way. John Anthony is the first holder of a new cup presented to the Mid Cork division for its novice A championship by the Hickey family Templemartin. Jackie Hickey, who passed away at the height of the Covid pandemic was a life-long supporter of bowling and his memory is now preserved in the splendid new trophy that will be played for annually.
West Cork’s novice B final at Drimoleague on Wednesday attracted a fine gathering and they weren’t disappointed with a fitting finale to a superb championship that was contested by some of the regions best young talent. Twenty-two starters included, Alan Brickley, Michael A Cronin, last year’s winner, Sean O’Leary, Seamus O’Regan, James Hurley, Ronan O’Mahony and Kevin Murphy giving their all to the closing rounds until Padraigh O’Sullivan and Brian O’Driscoll emerged as the last two standing. Bowling of junior standard was the order from both at different junctures as they went level in five each to the no-plays lines on Drimoleague’s inward route. Ballinacarriga’s O’Sullivan fired a magnificent fourth that was a shade unlucky no to make it out while local contender, O’Driscoll touched just enough to keep it level. Both finalists are just out of under-age ranks, and they produced some power bowling on the rise. O’Driscoll first shot a super cast away from the lines to go fifty metres up, but O’Sullivan responded in style with a cracking follow-up that regained the lead. The Ballinacarriga man’s next two were score winners, they rose a bowl of odds approaching the ‘bridge bend’. O’Driscoll went down fighting and threatened with a big third last, but O’Sullivan yielded nothing and will be a formidable force in the county rounds. He plays the East Cork champion in the quarterfinal at Jagoe’s Mills. The West Cork junior ladies is underway and a cracking contest at Derrinasafa say former U14 county winner Maire Russell overcome a big hurdle when getting the better of 2019 finalist, Deirdre Crowley. Marie’s excellent bowling to ‘darkwood’ puts her in the last eight. Luke Cato is West Cork novice D champion having overcome Darren O’Donovan in the last shot for €600 at Ballinacarriga.
Alan Murphy is South-West novice D champion following a thrilling last shot victory over Stephen Long at Timoleague. For a €1,600 total little separated them for most of the way but it’s Murphy who takes the Mark O’Donovan Memorial Cup.
In the Gaeltacht division young talent are coming to the fore also. At Baile Mhuire in the novice C quarterfinals U18 winner defeated 2014 All-Ireland novice 2 winner Peter Burns and Alan O’Shea defeated Joe Creedon. In another quarterfinal at Macroom, Shane O’Driscoll won from Connie O’Callaghan.