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Bowling Report - Week ending 18th February


Castletownkenneigh’s fund-raisers provided the main action over the past weekend including an early season contender for score of the year. Just a fortnight after their meeting at Madden, won comprehensively by the current senior champion, Aidan Murphy and Thomas Mackle went toe to toe again in the feature score on the Mid Cork club’s All-Ireland venue. Few expected a different outcome given the stranglehold the Armagh man has on Cork opponents in the recent past and the odds offered on a Mackle victory were short. They hadn’t reckoned with a resilient Murphy who came prepared, bowling with speed and fire and with a mindset bent on avenging that Armagh defeat. It was a belter from start to finish and what a finish the Brinny native produced. They traded it shot for shot amid a flurry of excellent exchanges as they reached the ‘old pub’ in four. A beautifully executed seventh around the bend by ‘O’Leary’s’ gave Murphy a thirty-metre lead but his next was a shade too tight and a small chance of making a break was gone. It was Mackle’s turn to play a beauty around the ‘black gate bend’ to regain the lead. Murphy was in front after the next exchange, but Mackle was in a better stand at ‘forsion’s cross’. As he showed in Germany at the anniversary internationals in 2019, Mackle possesses a prodigious loft and did so here, even underestimating his capacity, as he whipped his cast across the corner to take what looked like a valuable thirty metre lead as they headed for the home stretch. It was here Murphy showed his mettle. A sublime fourteenth, whipped away around the bend, brought him on to the rising road and restored his position at the front. Mackle played a big one, but Murphy held his ground beating a testing tip. Mackle’s sixteenth went right and Murphy, sensing victory, fired the coup-de gras, an astonishing cast that ran to within metres of the finish line. It gave him cushion enough to take the spoils from a memorable contest. They played for a €24,000 total.

The Sunday morning senior action at Castletownkenneigh had two leading contenders for the summer championship in opposition. Michael Bohane and Michael Harrington went head-to-head for a €26,400 stake and it was Bohane with a super sixth, who made the early break. His seventh didn’t run and Harrington, with good play of his own, levelled. On the tricky bends to the ‘black gate’ Bohane, thanks to an excellent eleventh throw, took command again. Harrington’s game challenge evaporated when his lofted twelfth stayed inside and from a level position two shots earlier, he now found himself two bowls down. Bohane carried that lead to ‘forsions cross’ at which point he was declared the winner.

The second of the day on Sunday was another thriller. The latest instalment in the Flor Crowley-Michael Gould saga had a whopping €40,000 total stake and it was Crowley who opened in style rising the bones of a bowl of odds with his opening three. The fireworks were only beginning. Gould reduced odds in the next exchanges and might have been closer had not Crowley, delivering arguably the performance of the weekend to that point, fired five of the best seen on the road. The fourth of these, following a monstrous Gould effort down past Kenneigh cross’ was spectacular and ensured his hard-won lead stayed intact. Crowley went on to win by the bowl. Youthful exponents, Cathal Creedon and Alan Brickley brought the curtain down on a superb weekends bowling when the played back after Murphy-Mackle. For a €3,200 total Creedon was the master winning by two.

The big one on Saturday, was the meeting of Carbery’s David Shannon and Armagh’s 2020 Ulster intermediate champion, Mark Toal, a son indeed of record All-Ireland senior winner, Michael. It was an engaging joust that carried a €20,000 total stake but one too that was decided by an unfortunate but calamitous misplay by the Armagh man when, three shots from home, he went from a winning position to hind bowl. Credit too to Shannon who made the most of his reprieve to fire a thundering last shot and win the day by a big fore bowl. Both showed good form early, Shannon beating big tips to stay in front for the first three and he had a chance of extending his advantage but his fourth broke from the left and his margin was still only ten metres. Toal kept the pressure up and a super fifth to ‘Kenneigh old pub’ had him in front for the first time. Shannon regained the lead briefly, but Toal had the better of it in the next exchanges and it took a brilliant tenth from the Carbery man to keep it more or less level at ‘Nyhan’s’. Toal continued to hold sway in the bowling to ‘forsion’s cross’ and, when Shannon unluckily caught the water at this juncture, the northerner was looking good. Two more good exchanges followed with Shannon just holding off the bowl deficit before misfortune befell the Armagh man. A slip in the wet conditions resulted in a ‘dead bowl’ handing Shannon back an unexpected lead. Toal led again after the next exchange, but it would be Shannon’s day when a piledriver over the line with his eighteenth gave him a last shot victory.

The day started with an Ulster victory after Ronan Toal, brother of Mark, just got the verdict from David Hegarty, Lyre. For a €10,000 total, it was a close shot for shot duel for most of the way even if the bowling did not reach a high standard. Toal took his first lead after six but never much separated them. Hegarty led with three to go but it was Toal who had the final say winning the last shot by a few metres.

Another big one on Saturday was the rematch of home player, Jack O’Callaghan and Beal na Morrive’s Conor Lucey. They had met as part of the three-way Rosscarbery novice B tournament final on the previous weekend with Lucey crucially winning the second-place battle behind Sidney Shannon. The tables were turned in no uncertain manner on this occasion as the rejuvenated O’Callaghan delivered in spades for his loyal support when taking a bowl of odds victory. The local man lost no time in taking charge rising a bowl of odds after five and holding it well with a big eighth shot as Lucey threatened a comeback. The North Cork man battled well and beat a huge throw of O’Callaghan’s to ‘Kenneigh cross’. Lucey came again with a big brace towards the line only to see O’Callaghan beat both and hold his bowl advantage to the finish. They played for a total of €18,000.

The last of four in Castletown on Saturday produced the day’s biggest stake. Kevin Coughlan, a man also with strong Carbery connections, and Darren Harrington, Ring, no stranger to a big money battle, went head-to-head for a €24,000 total and it was Coughlan who dominated almost from the off. Also carrying big local support, Coughlan rose a two-bowl cushion by the half-way point and held it to the finish. Overall, it was a successful weekend at the Mid Cork venue and one that put the host club, for whom all hands were on deck in an impressive organisational effort, in good fettle financially for their All-Ireland hosting in July.

There was a cracker at Ballinagree on Saturday when intermediate’s Tommy O’Sullivan and John O’Rourke, Rylane, clashed for an €8,300 total. O’Rourke, an All-Ireland winner in the grade as recent as 2020, was on the backfoot after he pulled his opener and missed the first bend. It was O’Sullivan’s turn to err then when a poor second left O’Rourke off the hook and it continued in this vein as both found the going difficult. Following that opening phase both upped their game considerably and a thrilling shot for shot duel ensued. O’Rourke’s brilliant effort to the ‘quay wall’ put him front for the first time, but O’Sullivan responded in style with a screamer that had him back in the ascendancy facing the line. Two more superb casts followed but it was O’Sullivan’s who scored the finish mark first for a hard-won victory. Here too, Declan O’Donovan defeated David Crowley, last shot for €1,200.

Also, in North Cork the first of the Firmount novice D tournament semi-finals saw Jerry Hubbard advance to the decider by virtue of a one bowl win over Will Harrington. They played for a €1,540 total. Harrington did have the satisfaction of defeating Hubbard in the return at Firmount for a €1,300 total.

In the North Cork team bowling event at Kilcorney, the home team and Berrings qualified for the Castletown overall finals in March. In club action at Ballyhooley, Timmy McDonagh defeated Michael Murphy by a bowl for €2,400 and Vincent O’Leary defeated Pat Bowles by two for €600. At The Bog Road, Jack O’Leary defeated Bernard O’Donovan, by a bowl for €1,140.

In championship action, the Gaeltacht junior B grade got going with a first round score at Inchigeelagh. Conor Creedon and Michael Desmond were the protagonists, and they produced a good contest with both showing form. Creedon’s fourteen over the line had him a bowl of odds winner. Desmond will get a second chance in a later round. Back Inchigeelagh in novice C, Donnacha Lucey defeated Evan Kelleher for €940. In novice veteran at Macroom, Micheal O’Céalachain won in the last shot from Jerry Lynch and here too, Liam Kearney defeated Jamie McCarthy. In novice veteran at Terelton, Niall Murphy defeated Richard Browne. In West Cork championship novice D at Ballinacarriga, Conor O’Brien defeated Brendan McCarthy in the last shot of a good score played for a €840 total. In the same grade at Ardcahan, Oisin Murphy-Hurley defeated Peter Collins. In novice C on the Inch road, Dunmanway, John O’Sullivan defeated Aidan O’Sullivan. James Russell won his novice C championship score at Bantry defeating Danny Horgan by two bowls for €600.

In the City novice veteran at Templemichael, Stephen Bowen defeated John Linehan by two for €340 and Declan O’Leary defeated John Donnellan. In the same grade at The Bog Road, Pascal Bowen defeated Noel Hegarty by a bowl for €500. At Jagoe’s Mills, Brian Crowley defeated Adrian Wilmot for €800 and, in a return double, Colm O’Regan and Adrian Wilmot defeated Pascal Bowen and Brian Crowley, last shot, for €700. In North Cork novice D at Kilcorney Mark Sexton won from Gavin O’Flynn and in a return, Alan Sexton defeated Jim Martin for €200.

Now in its third running, the inter-provincial U12 and U14 team finals will take place at Newcastle, Co. Dublin on Saturday March 2nd. A second trial session this weekend at Castletownkenneigh will finalise Munster (Cork) team selections. Already selected are the boys U14 team who include Conor Hourihane, Bantry, Dylan O’Shea, Macroom, Luke Barry, Templemartin and Ross O’Brien, Clondrohid. The boys U12 team will comprise of Jayden Crowley, Macroom, James Murphy, Ovens, Eoin Kelly, Macroom and one other from the second trial session. There are two places to be filled on both girls U14 and U12 teams. Already on the girls teams are, U14, Jena Healy, Kilcorney, and Caoilinn Callanan, Ballyphehane and for U12, Aimee McCarthy, Drimoleague and Anna Deane, Enniskeane. The final trial session for Girls U12 and U14 and for Boys U12 only will take place on Saturday morning next at Castletownkenneigh at 10.30am.


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