The 38th King and Queen of the Roads takes centre stage this coming weekend. Ballincurrig will be the Mecca for hundreds as the latest three-day extravaganza serves up all the colour and pageantry that is associated with this magnificent spectacle. The champions of Europe will come accompanied by flags, banners and colourful support to battle with Ireland’s best for the big prizes. It has become such a staple on bowling’s Autumn schedule that, across the bowling communities of Europe, it is considered one of the game’s pre-eminent events. This year’s hosting is no exception. Most of the top-exponents are in the line-up even if there are question marks regarding the fitness of a few as the rigours of long-time involvement takes a toll. Reigning champion, David Murphy, also the Munster champion has not seen action since being forced to concede to Thomas Mackle in the All-Ireland decider in July. Arthur McDonagh and Gary Daly, superb in their qualifying wins last weekend, also showed signs of strain in some of their deliveries. All-Ireland champion and recent Joe O’Sullivan Cup winner, Thomas Mackle, will come with confidence and, as a previous four-in-row King of the Road winner, certainly has the know-how to add another. Dutch champion, Bas Singer is making a third appearance while Germany’s Ralf Look is well-known having gone desperately close to outright victory on a few occasions. For the Queen title, Kelly Mallon (Armagh) and Silke Tulk (The Netherlands) are the big hitters. Holders of twelve Queen crowns between them, it is hard to look beyond them when assessing prospects for 2023. Cork’s three-pronged challenge will come from Munster champion, Geraldine Curtin, Veronica O’Mahony and Intermediate winner, Ciara Buckley any of whom on the day could cause an upset. They will carry enthusiastic support from the home following. German champion, Anke Klopper is a former finalist and could also have a say. Hannah Sexton is the notable absentee here. The Timoleague lady had to withdraw from the qualifying Gretta Cormican Cup tournament due to injury. The Jim O’Driscoll Cup Cork final is a three-way with All-Ireland winner Brian Wilmot, Carrignavar’s Eamonn Bowen and Fermoy’s Timmie McDonagh vying to play, Ulster’s Shaun Donnelly in Sunday’s overall final. The 38th King and Queen of the Roads will get underway on Friday morning.
The programme is as follows:
Friday September 22nd,
9.30am, Flag-Raising Ceremony at Scoil Naomh Eoin:
10.30am, Kingston New Homes Queen of the Roads Semi-Final 1:
Silke Tulk (The Netherlands) v Veronica O’Mahony (Munster) v Ciara Buckley (Munster):
12.00 Jim O’Driscoll Cup Cork final: Brian Wilmot v Eamonn Bowen v Timmie McDonagh:
2.00pm, Kingston New Homes Queen of the Roads Semi-Final 2:
Kelly Mallon (Ulster) v Anke Klopper (Germany) v Geraldine Curtin (Munster).
Saturday September 23rd,
9.30am, Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads Semi-Final 1:
Thomas Mackle (Ulster) v Arthur McDonagh (Munster) v Ralf Look (Germany).
11.00am Dairypower Double:
Anthony McVeigh/Frank Oliver (Ulster) v David O’Brien/Michael Ahern (Munster):
1.30pm Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads Semi-Final 2:
David Murphy (Munster) v Gary Daly (Munster) v Bas Senger (The Netherlands).
3.00pm Charlie McCarthy Cup (McCarthy Insurance Group)
Barry O’Reilly/Jake Cullen (Ulster) v Noel O’Regan/Shane Collins (Munster):
Sunday September 24th.
9.30am Jim O’Driscoll Cup final:
Shaun Donnelly (Ulster) v Cork winner:
11.30am Proto Mark Technologies Youth International Triple Crown:
Tommy O’Sullivan/Ellen Sexton (Ireland) v Bart Lucas/Lotte Telgenhof Oude Koehorst (The Netherlands) v Flynn Meyerhoff/Tomke deVries (Germany):
1.30 Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads final:
3.00pm, Kingston New Homes Queen of the Roads final:
5.00pm Victory Ceremony: Victory March King and Queen of the Road 2023 led by Lone Piper Padraigh O’Brien: 5.30 Presentation Ceremony at School Parking Area; 6.00 Lowering of the Flag by King and Queen 2023.
Saturday’s qualifiers at Ballincurrig completed the line-up for this weekend. Arthur McDonagh and Gary Daly booked their semi-final slots with Mick Barry Cup wins over Aidan Murphy and John O’Rourke respectively while Eamonn Bowen ensured a place in the Cork Jim O’Driscoll Cup final with an easier that expected win over Wayne Callanan. Brinny native Murphy was a shade unlucky not to get the verdict from his Joe O’Sullivan Acorn Life Cup semi-final clash with McDonagh at Castletownbere, but there was no doubting the Fermoy man’s dominance at Ballincurrig on Saturday last. For a €20,000 total, McDonagh made a blistering start lining three of the finest to the ‘green’ by ‘Geary’s and rising a ninety-metre advantage in the process. Murphy stemmed the tide with a brilliant fourth shot, but McDonagh was relentless and rose the bowl of odds when he beat the line at ‘Heaphy’s’ with a smashing fifth. He was heading for road-record figures when he covered the long straight with his seventh, but a misplay then resulted in the extra shot to the ‘big turn’ a point he reached in ten. A big eleventh on the ‘short straight’ put him two bowls clear and there was no way back for Murphy after that. The magical figure of nine to the ‘big turn’ at Ballincurrig is rarely achieved and almost certainly guarantees big odds. McDonagh nearly made it on Saturday but faltered with his eighth. Gary Daly, in the following qualifier, showed the way firing sensational eighth and ninth shots that brought him sight at this mighty landmark on the road. John O’Rourke’s eleven to the same point was respectable but he trailed by two shots and his challenge was effectively snuffed out. Daly was the hot favourite in the €1,600 total stake and, when he blazed a ferocious fifth through the no-play lines he was almost a shot to the good. The Rylane man fought it well and still well in contention until Daly’s incredible brace virtually finished the contest.
The Jim O’Driscoll Cup qualifier in the forenoon was a disappointing contest with both Eamonn Bowen and Wayne Callanan both below the form they showed in previous victories on the road. Callanan had early momentum with Bowen taking four to reach a mark he made in two in his win over Andrew O’Callaghan. Almost a hundred metres down, Bowen dug himself out of trouble with a super sixth shot and it gave him an unexpected lead when his City rival’s reply went left. Callanan’s form dipped in the next exchanges and Bowen rose a bowl of odds on the ‘straight’. After a bright start, nothing went right for the City challenger and Bowen emerged the winner by a two-bowl margin.
In other tournament action, Shane Shannon came with a blistering late salvo to win the opening three-way qualifier in the new Templemartin nine-man junior B competition. For a combined €3,750, Lyre’s David Hegarty, in the shot’s from ‘Slynne’s corner’, held sway as junior B county winner, Noel O’Regan took a while to get going. Shannon was in close proximity, and he also rose a bowl on O’Regan. The Togher Cross man staged one of typical late rallies and came ahead of Hegarty but Shannon, with three explosive efforts, defeated both rivals in an exciting finish. At Durrus, Michael A Cronin defeated Damien Daly to win the novice C/D tournament final and at Derrinasafa in novice 1 James O’Driscoll, Ahakeera, defeated David Horgan, last shot, for €800. In scores at The Bog Road, Thomas O’Donovan defeated Pat O’Donovan, last shot, for €1,200 and Michael Barry defeated Michael Gould by a bowl for €800.
Scores in the vintage grade progressed the championship to sectional quarterfinals. Patsy O’Sullivan of Kealkil and former winner, Jimmy Nyhan, Castletownkennneigh, clashed in a section B shoot-out at Derrinasafa on Saturday. For an €1,100 total, the Kealkil man recovered from a misplay at ‘darkwood’ to lead again by ‘Walshe’s lane’. Nyhan stayed close but he too erred on the straight to ‘Hon’s’ and O’Sullivan extended his lead to a bowl of odds just short of the line. The Kealkil man meets Donal Harnedy in the sectional semi-final. There was exciting fare at The Pike when long-time campaigners, Pat Joe Connolly and Teddy Murphy clashed in a section C group A second rounder. The bowling may not have reached any great heights by it was a close duel won at the death by Connolly who had just metres to spare. In the next round he meets the winner of D D Carroll/Jerry Connolly. Carroll had a bowl of odds to spare on Jim O’Neill in their contest at Ballinacarriga on Sunday, where too, Harry Russell came through a tough battle with Kevin O’Sullivan. In vintage C group B Tadg Cotter defeated Willie Collins at The Bog Road and will play Mick Murphy, Donoughmore in the next round. In the eastern section B group B at Grenagh, Willie Cronin defeated Malachy Kennedy by two bowls. Cronin meets Paddy Kinsella in the next round. In vintage C group B, John Healy won from John Twohig at Paddoes and will meet Mick O’Driscoll (B) or Donie Connolly. At Conna in vintage B group B, Liam Barry defeated last year’s outright C winner, Pat Scanlon and will play Micheal O’Ceallachain in the next round. Also at the East Cork venue, in vintage C group B, Oliver Searls defeated Pat O’Brien.
Novice E scores abounded around the county. In the Gaeltacht division at Clondrohid, Odhran O’Leary won from Brian Healy and Kevin Healy defeated Cormac McCarthy. At Terelton, Finbarr Buckley won from Trevor Tobin and, on the Coolea road, Eanna Dineen won from Sean O’Sullivan. Scores at The Clubhouse progressed West Cork’s novice E competition. Here Chris Walsh won from Kieran Daly and Liam O’Brien won from Thomas Kingston. At Ardcahan, Jack Murphy defeated Daniel King. In North Cork at Firmount, novice E progressed with wins for Kieran Buckley and Adrian O’Connor over Barry Meade and James Collins respectively.