Patrick Flood posted his senior credentials in a commanding performance at Shannonvale on Sunday last where he won his Noel Phair Cup joust with Aidan Murphy by a margin of almost a bowl of odds. A few jittery outings following his All-Ireland intermediate success last year made for a tentative introduction to the premier grade but successive wins against Munster champion, Michael Bohane, European Gold Medal winner, Seamus Sexton and now 2019 titleholder, Murphy, who had also been on a resurgent run, entitles the Fermoy youth to serious consideration when senior championship prospects are being evaluated. Flood was the underdog in the €6,600 total stake and did not make the best of starts. Murphy took the early shots although taking three over the top of the hill was below his best also. Flood opened up with a big fourth and took a one metre lead with a good fifth. His sixth to ‘Buttimer’s pillars’ and seventh to ‘Desmond’s’ were top drawer and propelled him into a bowl lead. He increased his odds with a big eighth to the top of the hill when Murphy, very unluckily, saw his well-drilled reply crack right. A left side choice of road play with his next did not do the Brinny native any favours but he responded well with a smashing effort past ‘Kingston’s’ to keep the margin at the bowl of odds. He seemed sure to knock it when his thirteenth on the incline ran perfectly to sight and on to ‘Campbell’s’. With a defining response, Flood followed that monumental cast and retained most of his advantage. Murphy might have knocked odds against a lesser opponent when he unleashed a big brace towards the finish, but Flood matched each and scored the line then with a superb fifteenth when any mistake might have given Murphy a late chance. In an interesting return at Shannonvale, a junior set-to between last year’s county junior A runner-up, Tim McDonagh and Bandon’s Denis Wilmot saw fortunes fluctuate. For a €5,000 total, Wilmot hit an outstanding opener but faltered in the shots from ‘Desmond’s’ down and McDonagh took advantage to ensure another success for the North-East camp.
Ballinacurra, Upton’s, winter junior A competition final was a three-way belter that engaged a sizable Saturday gathering right to its last shot denouement. Denis O’Sullivan, up from junior B, won it at the death but David O’Mahony most certainly could have while, City’s Trevor O’Meara was there too with a chance as a dramatic finale unfolded. The opening half of the score produced junior bowling that will hardly be bettered for the remainder of the year. All three contributed. O’Mahony’s opening shot looked a good one but O’Sullivan beat it handsomely and then watched as O’Meara lined as impeccable effort to take the first lead. O’Mahony looked in trouble after a wayward second and it was O’Sullivan who took over with big shots that included a sublimely cut third to the ‘main road’. Five Mile Bridge man, O’Mahony dug himself out with a splendid touch off the kerb followed by a beautifully judged fourth to take an unexpected lead. O’Meara lined a big cast to the ‘gas line’ but O’Sullivan with a spectacular loft and a perfectly drilled sixth regained the fore bowl as the frenetic exchanges continued. O’Meara, without doing much wrong, trailed the leader by a bowl after eight before O’Mahony caught up with O’Sullivan again with brilliant effort to sight at the ‘GAA pitch’. O’Sullivan stretched away again on the straight past the ‘novice line’ while O’Meara made inroads with a super twelfth. With three to go, O’Sullivan held a valuable lead but squandered it when cutting too tightly with his third last handing the ascendancy back to O’Mahony but both were now just holding off O’Meara There was more drama as O’Sullivan missed the finish line with his fifteenth only for O’Mahony to do likewise. O’Meara, still with an outside chance, needed everything but it didn’t happen for the City contender leaving the destination of the winners prize in the hands of his rivals. O’Mahony’s final effort looked good enough to take the laurels but O’Sullivan, enjoying that shade of good fortune that is sometimes essential to the winner’s enclosure, saw his response recover from a right-hand trajectory and win the day by twenty metres. They played for a combined €11,250. On the way back Kenneth Murphy kept a good run going defeating former intermediate Andrew O’Leary by a bowl, for €4,500 while in a morning score, Tim Allen repeated his championship success over Pat Broderick defeating the Kinsale man by a bowl for €1,200.
In junior action at Beal an mBlath, last year’s South-West junior A champion, Alex O’Donovan got the better of Ger O’Driscoll. A competitive joust had O’Driscoll leading up to ‘Bradfield’s cross’. O’Donovan rallied in the next exchanges but it still fairly even to the point known as the ‘bull’s gate’. A misplay here by O’Driscoll proved costly as it gave the Shannonvale man a chance to put daylight between them. O’Donovan duly took it and held his lead to the line. Their contest carried a €3,600 total stake. On the way back, Paul Twomey defeated Ger O’Leary, last shot, for €1,100. On Sunday here, John A Murphy kept a good run going with a win from a well-contested tournament three-way. North Cork’s Shane Collins was closest with Liam Hurley, Togher Cross also challenging. They played for a combined €1,800.
The first score in Ballygurteen’s innovative mixed doubles tournament went ahead on Sunday morning. A highlight here was the outstanding performances by opposing ladies, Veronica O’Mahony and Hannah Sexton. Both excelled at different junctures but it was Veronica’s partnership with Noel O’Regan, Togher Cross who dominated from the ‘women’s lane’ onward as a few went awry for David Hegarty who combined with county champion, Hannah. O’Regan/O’Mahony won by a bowl and will contest with the winners of Ger Connolly/Meghan Collins v Shane Shannon/Maria Nagle in the final play-off. Sunday morning’s score carried a €2,100 total stake. Two scores were played in the John Murray Cup at Ardcahan. In the first of these Martin Murphy got the better of Paul Walsh. Murphy’s big cast from ‘O’Mahony’s cross’ consolidated his bowl of odds lead and ensured victory. They played for a total of €940. Later, Danny O’Donovan won his duel with Diarmuid Murphy. Two big shots towards the finish won this for O’Donovan for a €580 total. The first three-way in the new Joe Bowen tournament went ahead at Whitechurch. The experienced Noel Gould emerged the victor here a last shot winner from Michael O’Donnell, Mitchlestown with Liam Walsh, Grenagh, a shot further back. They played for a €3,000 total. There was an exciting finale to the return score here, Thomas Boyle had close on a bowl lead on James O’Sullivan with four to go but a storming rally from the Fairhill youth, had it level facing the line. O’Sullivan completed his comeback firing a super last shot that Boyle, despite a game attempt, missed by twenty. Their contest carried a €3,000 stake. In scores at Doneraile, Michael Murphy defeated Andrew O’Leary by two bowls, for €800. O’Leary won the return from Murphy, last shot, for €260.
On a busy weekend of championship action, Tim Allen won his Mid Cork novice veteran contest with Pat Broderick at Ballinacurra, last shot, for €600. In West Cork novice C at Durrus, Garoid Cronin defeated Graham O’Sullivan and Mark Deane got the better of Luke Cato, one bowl, for €800. At Drinagh on Saturday in novice D an exciting finish saw Cian Young lead for the first time in the very last shot and win his second-round clash with Donal McCarthy. It was desperately close too the following day when, in novice C, Sean Cronin beat a big last shot of Darren O’Donovan’s by a mere metre. At The Clubhouse in novice D, Kieran O’Driscoll won a cracking score with Martin Collins, last shot and in the outward D contest, Martin Dullea with a big cast from ‘Dineen’s lane’ got the better of Timmie O’Sullivan. At Bantry in novice D, Tommy Walsh won by two from Aidan Murphy, Drinagh. West Cork’s novice D championship scores at Derrinasafa resulted in wins for Kevin O’Donovan and Johnny Kelly. O’Donovan edged out Anthony O’Connell in the last shot while, Kelly had a bowl of odds so spare on doughty veteran campaigner, Fachtna Keane for a €680 stake. On a busy weekend in the Gaeltacht, the junior A championship started with a first round fixture at Inchigeela. Here Macroom’s Eoin O’Riordan overcame former county winner, James Cooney, who was returning to his home division. For a €2,100 total, Cooney won the opening exchange but O’Riordan gradually took control. It was still close after five before the Macroom man rose a bowl in the shots to the ’grotto’. Cooney made inroads but could not get close enough to deprive O’Riordan of victory. On the way back a very impressive Sam Pickering won his U18 championship contest with Tadg Cooney. At Ballyvourney in junior B, Conor Creedon defeated Jim Coffey by a bowl and, at Terelton in novice C, Adam McCarthy got the better of James O’Leary. In Gaeltacht D at Terelton, Joseph Lynch defeated John O’Driscoll. In the City division Paddoes hosted two championship scores both novice veteran. Pat Gould defeated Ray O’Keefe and Declan O’Leary defeated John Linehan. In novice veteran at The Bog Road, Michael O’Mahony defeated Paddy Cronin. In North Cork two novice D championship scores went ahead at Kilcorney on Saturday. In the first of these Mick Murphy, a junior A All-Ireland winner of almost forty years ago, won from Thomas Barrett for a €300 total and Mickey McAuliffe followed up winning his contest with Colm McCarthy. At Ballinagree on Sunday, in novice D, Ross Lynch defeated Adrian O’Connor, last shot, for €640 and back here, Jerry Hubbard defeated Barry Twomey for €800. In the East Cork/West Waterford junior veteran’s championship at Ballincurrig, a surprise result saw Michael Wall defeat former senior, P J Cooney. At the same venue in novice veteran, Sam Kingston defeated Mo O’Connor. Down at Fenor in novice veteran Tommy Rowe got the better of former Decie full-back, Sean Cullinane.
The first Saturday in March will see the second hosting of bowling’s inter-provincial youths team event. Newcastle, Co. Dublin, is again the appointed venue for what promises to be enjoyable and competitive joust involving the best young talents North, South, East and West. The competition evolved from a motion for Convention 2021 introduced by Mayo’s David Hughes which allows for larger participation from the lower under-age grades in an All-Ireland setting and, with support from governing bodies north and south, the inaugural event proved a great success. Indeed, three teams from the West competed in last year’s play-offs. It is hoped again for a strong turn-out. Undoubtedly, the games strongholds Ulster and Munster will garner the lion’s share when prizes are handed out. Munster (Cork’s) selections look particularly strong with Mid Cork’s Jack Allen and Tad Hickey joining up with Gaeltacht’s Eoin Kelly and West Cork’s Eoin Hickey in a formidable U12 boys quartet. The boy’s U14 side has Ross O’Brien of the Gaeltacht who starred last year in U12 accompanied by Tom McCarthy, Carbery, Oisin Murray, West Cork and Eoin Murphy, Mid. Cork’s girls U12 foursome has Chloe Hubbard, who starred in North Cork’s terrific Kelleher Shield win on the Phale Road on Sunday week teaming with West Cork trio, Caoimhe Hurley, Cait Young and Grace O’Sullivan. Girls U14 will have last years county U12 winner, Maebh Cuinnea from the Carbery division in strong line-up with Orla Murphy (Gaeltacht) and Lelia Foley (Mid). The play-off for the fourth U14 girls spot took place on Sunday morning at Castletownkenneigh and it was a finely competitive shoot-out between four of the leading lady’s in the grade. Anna Deane from Mid Cork just edged it from Jenna Healy, Kilcorney, Ciara Lennon, Drinagh and Bella Barry-Twohig (City).