Martin Coppinger and David Murphy will contest at Ballincurrig on this Sunday afternoon June 25 for the 2023 county senior championship after semi-final wins at Grange and Bauravilla. It promises a stirring duel between bowling’s greatest rivals as both go in search of a fifth provincial crown. Coppinger’s duel with Aidan Murphy at the South West venue on Saturday evening was a cagey affair for the first half. Playing away from Lislevane for a €10,000 total stake, Murphy did not fo
llow-up a splendid second shot with a similar third and Coppinger, off the hook to an extent, did not suffer any ill-effects from a hesitant start. The Bantry native led for the first time after a fine touch off ‘Holland’s wall’ but was hind again after the next exchange. Nothing separated them in an average eight shots to the ‘school-house cross’ but, from there, the tempo was upped considerably. A spectacularly lofted ninth of Coppinger’s was ‘called’, but his re-thrown effort fared better and he rose a thirty-metre advantage at ‘Hegarty’s wall’. Murphy’s brilliant eleventh to sight at ‘O’Sullivan’s’ regained the lead for him but Coppinger determinedly came within metres and then delivered a powerful drive on the rising road to ‘Hodnett’s’. Murphy beat that mark again but fell hind of Coppinger’s next as an exciting finale unfolded. The Mid Cork native’s next was a super effort but Coppinger held his ground beating a massive tip and it signalled a vital turn in his favour as he fired another supreme effort to the ‘Grange tavern’ to take control of the score. Murphy conceded a bowl of odds in these exchanges, and it is a confident Coppinger who goes in search of a fifth county crown.
There was no late drama at Bauravilla on Sunday as David Murphy booked his place in the final with a clearcut two-bowl victory over James O’Donovan. The Brinny man avenged recent championship defeats to the Bandonian with a competent if unspectacular showing. Crucial to his win was a tightly cut twelfth shot that escaped off the right to run perfectly to the ‘hollow’ back of the novice line. The splendid effort turned a twenty-metre lead into a bowl of odds advantage and there was no holding him after that. Chances there were for both men after they played away from the ‘Coachman’s start’ for a €12,900 total. Murphy had the early advantage before O’D
onovan’s brilliant fourth shot to the ‘netting’ gave him unexpected leeway when the Brinny man’s reply went left. O’Donovan did not capitalise taking four more to the ‘rock’ where Murphy was back in front by a metre. Murphy then beat a big tenth of O’Donovan’s by forty metres and the yardage was vital in enabling him to get a better break off the ‘bridge wall’. Then came that score-changing twelfth and it was Murphy’s day despite O’Donovan’s best efforts.
Sunday’s final is a re-match of a sporting rivalry that has sustained bowling for well over a decade. Guaranteed crowd-pullers when and wherever they clash, they have shared the highs and lows over that extended period with almost identical championship records. Both have won four county titles from five appearances while Coppinger shades the All-Ireland honours list winning four to Murphy’s three. Ballincurrig is a familiar venue to both. Murphy is a five-time King of the Roads winner here while Coppinger’s sole victory came at the expense of Murphy after one of the most sensational closing sequences seen on the road in 2012, their only final meeting. Coppinger has the upper hand in most of their most recent meetings but, on a new day, with the premier prize at stake, how much of an influence that statistic will have is anyone’s guess.
Thomas Mackle is still the kingpin in Ulster. The defending champion needed to be at his best to hold on against Colm Rafferty in the fourth score of their best of five played at Knappagh on Saturday. Martin Coppinger or David Murphy will know what to expect on All-Ireland Sunday July 9 at Ballincurrig.
The third of the intermediate men’s quarterfinals went ahead at Inchigeelagh on Sunday morning and it is City contender, Wayne Callanan, who moves to a Newcestown semi-final meeting with Brian Wilmot. Mallow’s Andrew O’Callaghan provided stiff opposition in a score of tight margins. Going for a €2,600 total, Callanan made a bright start gradually increasing a slender early lead to close on a bowl of odds. O’Callaghan rallied well in the final third and closed to within thirty metres for the last shots. The City man stayed strong and won that vital exchange. A local derby between Tim Young and Donal O’Riordan at Bantry next Saturday will complete the quarterfinal round. The winner plays Wayne Parkes at The Marsh Road.
In junior B and with
Ballincurrig also slated as the venue for the decider, two fairly epic semi-finals at Derrinasafa and Templemartin have identified Noel O’Donovan (Mid Cork) and Noel O’Regan (West Cork) as the last two standing in what has been a very competitive county round series. O’Donovan’s clash with South West’s Johnny O’Driscoll drew a large gathering to Derrinasafa on Wednesday evening. A trap-to-line win for O’Donovan might indicate a one-sided contest but this was anything but as the Innishannon man’s twenty-metre victory came at the end of an absorbing duel and only after he had beaten O’Driscoll’s very testing final tip. Going for a €10,100 total, O’Driscoll was a shade lucky to escape from the right with his tightly played opener and was only two metres adrift of his rival’s well-drilled effort. The first break came when O’Donovan’s took advantage of an average fourth of O’Driscoll’s and the odds raised gave the Mid Cork champion the opportunity to go a bowl in front which he took with bullet-like sixth to sight to ‘Nattie’s corner’. O’Driscoll made inroads with a super eighth to ‘Cotter’s cross’ and was back within metres when O’Donovan, with a rare miscalculation, missed ‘darkwood’ with his ninth. A shot-for shot battle from there to the finish had excitement at fever pit
ch. O’Donovan beat big tips to hold a slender led while both were unlucky with a few that didn’t run. O’Driscoll looked to snatch it with a brilliant last shot, but O’Donovan held his nerve to fire a perfect response that won the day. There was drama too at Templemartin on Friday, as O’Regan ended Noel Gould’s dual challenge with a late charge that could not have been foreseen given that the City champion looked in total control for much of the way. For a €4,500 total, O’Regan’s opener was short and, although he led marginally after two, his closing quarterfinal form of Castletownkenneigh seemed to desert him as Gould raced to a big lead in the shots around ‘Slynne’s’ corner’. O’Regan was unlucky with his seventh and Gould piled on the pressure rising a bowl of odds after ten. A brilliant eleventh half-way to the ‘beetfield corner’ looked to copperfasten his lead but O’Regan did incredibly well to hold it to a bowl of odds with a great reply. It was the beginning of a purple patch for the Togher Cross man and a splendid follow-up went clear sight for the last straight. Gould suddenly looked vulnerable and when he missed ‘sight’ the score was in the melting pot. An unlucky misplay wi
th his next cost the City challenger and gave O’Regan a sensational lead and it was a rejuvenated West Cork champion who repelled a good effort from Gould in the next exchange and gained yardage enough for a remarkable win. Ballincurrig on Sunday morning next stage the final.
The same Noel Gould will contest the junior veteran county final at Terelton with East Cork’s Philip O’Donovan who defeated his old rival from senior days, John Shorten, in the second semi-final of that grade at Templemichael on Saturday evening. The repeat of the county senior final of 2005 which was played at Ballyvolane and won by O’Donovan, saw Shorten win the opening exchange only to fall almost a bowl down after four. The shot of odds soon came between them, and the Mid Cork man did well to keep it at that as O’Donovan hit a series of piledrivers to ‘Sarsfield’s cross’. There was no stopping O’Donovan on the evening as he eventually rose two bowls.
The county novice veteran championship is also down to the decider. The first of the penultimate round scores at The Clubhouse on Thursday was a cliff-hanger for much of the way. Gaeltacht’s Michael O’Callaghan and Carbery’s Sidney Shannon had nothing separating them until a late misplay by the western man cost him a bowl of odds. For a €6,000 total, Shannon took his first lead after four and led around ‘O’Brien’s’ in five each. Although he lost the lead with his six
th, his next three were top notch and he held a hundred metre lead after nine above ‘Clon cross’. O’Callaghan’s recovery was spectacular as a perfectly pitched tenth to ‘Murray’s’ reduced the odds to ten. Shannon defiantly held the lead in the next sequence, but O’Callaghan’s perseverance paid, and he threw the decisive shot, his fourteenth of the evening, when he made sight at the last bend. Trying too hard, Shannon conceded a bowl of odds in the next exchanges, and it is the Gaeltacht man who moves to the county final. At Curraheen on Sunday morning, East Cork’s Paul Butler defeated Dan O’Regan in the second semi and will play O’Callaghan in the county decider at Firmount on this Friday.
The women’s intermediate final promises a humdinger at Whitechurch on Tuesday 27th. Ciara Buckley and Chloe O’Halloran have impressed in unbeaten runs through group stage and knock-out rounds with both showing some of their best form in years. Ciara won her semi-final from Hannah Cronin at Clondrohid on June 2 while Chloe got the better of another leading contender, Juliette Murphy, in the second penultimate round score at Macroom on Wednesday last. Consistency was Chloe’s trademark on the evening countering some strong play from her Donoughmore rival with pinpoint accuracy at various junctures. A bowl of odds separated them in Chloe’s favour at the score’s conclusion. They go head-to-head at the City venue this week.
The three under-age
championships with national finals down for decision at Ballincurrig on July 8/9 are all coming to a conclusion. County deciders in boys and girls U16 and boys U12 are set-to go this week or weekend. The inter-regional rounds of the boys U16 grade has seen some sumptuous displays from regional winners with high-quality scores the norm in all four quarterfinals. East Cork’s stylish Ben Cooney eclipsed London’s Patrick O’Driscoll (Jun) in a preliminary round at Grenagh before getting the better of Mid Cork’s Rhys Murphy in a competitive quarterfinal round contest at Whitechurch. On to Ballinacurra, Upton, on Friday for a semi-final joust with West Cork’s Brian O’Sullivan of Johnstown who impressed in his quarterfinal win over strong North Cork contender, Shane Dennehy. This was a rip-roaring tie with Cooney shading all the tips to ‘Perrot’s’ before the West Cork champion showed his paces with a fine cast to take the lead. A thrilling last quarter unfolded as Cooney regained the lead by just metres and then beat both a big tip of O’Sullivan’s and the finish line with an expertly played last shot. The second semi has heavy hitters John O’Donoghue North East who eliminated Ca
rbery’s Shane Crowley in a classic at Terelton and City’s Anthony Crowley who hit top form at Bweeng in his defeat of Gaeltacht’s Cathal Creedon going head-to-head at Beal na Morrive this week. Drinagh’s Emma Hurley is making waves in several disciplines and will contest the girls U16 with Laura Sexton at Beal na mBlath on this Thursday. Laura and Gaeltacht’s Tara Twomey had a great semi-final battle at Castletownkenneigh on Sunday. Laura’s opening shot was a lengthy one and it led to a bowl of odds cushion after four. Tara kept it competitive but there was no catching the Timoleague champion over the latter half. In a girls U18 county quarterfinal at Curraheen, Mid Cork’s Rosin Allen defeated Connaught’s Amy Forde.
West Cork’s U12 champion Eoghan Hickey from Durrus has made it through to the county decider after a last shot victory over a very game Jack Allen in the semi-final at Lyre on Thursday. Jack took the lead with a great fourth shot before Eoghan gained the ascendancy with a terrific shot on the straight to the cross at ‘Knockskeagh school’. A spirited late rally by
the Newcestown boy had him within thirty metres for the last shots Eoghan stayed in front and will contest with either Brian Harrington (Carbery) or Eoghan Kelly (Gaeltacht) in the final. Brian won a finely contested quarterfinal with South-West’s Fionan Twohig at The Clubhouse on Tuesday. A super fourth shot gave the Carbery boy leeway in the early stages and he countered an excellent cast of Fionan’s at ‘Dineen’s lane’ to hold his lead. Castletownkenneigh will host the second semi.
Conor O’Donovan, Belgooly, is Mid Cork U18 champion for 2023. Conor, an All-Ireland U12 winner in 2017 won by a bowl from Ronan O’Donovan at Jagoe’s Mills, on Wednesday. At Newcestown on Saturday morning, in the novice D quarterfinal, Donnacha O’Driscoll defeated Ger O’Leary in a good contest that carried a €3,000 total. Also in Mid Cork, with an eye to the future, Coppeen National School fifth and sixth classes enjoyed a morning’s bowling under the tutelage of Jimmy Hennessy, Association chair, Michael Brennan and Finbarr McCarthy. Upwards of thirty pupils showed their paces in brilliant sunshine. The Mid Cork girls U12 final was contested by Eva and Orla O’Sullivan with Eva shading the verdict by a few metres. In scores at Ballinacurra, Upton, on Saturday, Mark Coleman defeated Paudie Keohane; Bernard O’Callaghan defeated Chris Hayes; Tommy Maloney defeated Tim Allen and Paul Twomey won from Joe Lynch. In a big novice C shoot-out at Beal na mBlath on Sunday evening, David Desmond defeated Sean Nyhan for a €4,400 total.
The South-West U18 championship is heading for a re-match of Eoin McCarthy and Tommy O’Sullivan. Eoin eclipsed Cillian Twohig in their play-off at The Pike on Thursday and will now again meet the intermediate graded O’Sullivan whom he so sensationally beat in last year’s championship. McCarthy’s bowling at The Pike venue gives a very good chance of upsetting the odds again. In South-West novice D at Ballygurteen on Friday, Matthew O’Driscoll defeated Mike Kiely. South-West bowling mourned the passing of Con O’Sullivan, Knockfeen at the weekend. Con had an abiding interest in the sport and followed the family fortunes on countless roads around the county. A competitor too in the vintage and novice grades, Con was a popular and knowledgeable presence whose passing leaves a void. Sympathies are expressed to the O’Sullivan family.
At Togher Cross in a cracking West Cork U18 championship contest Jonathan Deane got the better of James Russell and, in the decider, will play his brother, Mark, who won the second semi-final from Con O’Sullivan at Kealkil on Saturday evening. Also, at Togher Cross on Thursday, in a junior C regional semi-final, Neil Crowley defeated James Lordan, last shot, for €1,500. At The Clubhouse on Monday one of the best of the week unfolded when Bantry’s Amy O’Donovan and Drimoleague’s Shauna O’Driscoll engaged in a gripping U14 first rounder. Shot for shot it went with no more than a few metres separating as the lead changed on numerous occasions. That was the way it finished too with Amy narrowly shading the final tips from an unlucky Shauna. Here too, another of Drinagh’s rising stars, Kate Coakley won her score with Anna O’Sullivan. In the corresponding boys grade Aaron Hurley of Castledonovan won his contest with Bantry’s Timmie Gibbons.
Rihanna Collins is North Cork U18 champion after an exciting three-way battle with Rachel Lucey and Shauna Lynch at Peake mid-week. Still on youth bowling in North Cork, Jayden Crowley won a great battle with Donagh Murphy at Ballinagree on Monday for the 2022 U10 trophy. At the same venue, also on Monday, James Collins won his novice D quarterfinal with Barry Twomey and in a return double, Will Harrington and Liam McCarthy defeated Stephen Spillane and Brian Crowley for a €600 total. In the novice C quarterfinal at Beal na Morrive on Tuesday, Martin Kelleher defeated Jim Martin. In a return here, Pat Fitzgibbon defeated Ross Lynch by a bowl for €1,200. Back here, Mickey McAuliffe defeated Jack Oldham, last shot, for €540.
The second novice D quarterfinal was played at Ballinagree on Thursday and here, for a €1,700 stake Carrigadrohid man. Twomey emerged the winner of a tight contest. In a return double, Damien Burns and David Crowley defeated Adrian Buttimer and outward winner, Paul Twomey, last shot for €600. In the North Cork junior C three-way at Firmount on Friday, an incredible finish saw Shane Collins come from a bowl down to overhaul Olan Noonan with
Kevin Manning further back. For a combined €1,950 Noonan’s good bowling gave him a bowl cushion at the novice line but Collins’ fired an incredible shot from this juncture, and it proved a winner. Back the road, James Collins defeated Paul Walsh, last shot, for €2,400. In the novice B quarterfinal at Peake on Saturday, Conor Lucey defeated David Crowley. After this contest, Jerry Hubbard defeated Jack Oldham, last shot, for €1,240. North Cork bowling mourned the passing of Humphrey O’Sullivan, Macroom, a life-long follower of bowling whose presence was welcomed at venues all over the county.
There was a big Gaeltacht clash at Macroom for the regional U18 crown. This was not surprising as going head-to head were the 2022 county runner-up in the grade and the current
All-Ireland U16 champion. Cillian Kelleher and Liam Murphy played out a compelling fifteen-shot duel for a €4,000 total stake. Kelleher emerged the winner by a big fore bowl. Murphy beat a ferocious effort of Kelleher’s as they played to the point known as ‘the gap’ and it spurred him to a hundred metre lead by ‘Poundy’s lane’. Kelleher’s ‘train’ to ‘Mickey Tom’s’ wiped out Murphy’s lead and it the Kilnamartyra youth who dominated the closing quarter. Also, in the Gaeltacht, the junior C play-off at Clondrohid resulted in victory for Michael Desmond over Jerry O’Riordan, two bowls, for €800. Regional secretary, Michéal Masters was going well in novice D and won his Kilnamartyra contest with Patrick O’Connor on Monday but lost out in the quarterfinal at Terelton to Paudie Lucey on Sunday evening. In novice C at Macroom on the same evening, Martin O’Connor won from Martin Cotter. In the D grade championship at Baile Bhuirne, Jamie McCarthy defeated Colm Dromey, last shot, for €1,500 and in a return here, Donal O’Shea won from Andrew Kelleher, last shot, for €1,240.
Patrick Stokes won the City junior A final at Whitechurch on Saturday. A big finish brought him from a bowl down to Cian Boyle to a last shot victory. They played for a stake of €3,600. Elsewhere in the City, in the novice B semi-final at Templemichael, Alan Murphy defeated Tony Dunlea and, in a return, Tom O’Callaghan defeated Shane Lotty, last shot, for €1,400. In the novice C championship at Curraheen, Paul O’Connell defeated the former senior Michael O’Driscoll (B) by one bowl and Bernard O’Donovan defeated Pascal Bowen. In a return here, Jack O’Leary defeated Michael O’Driscoll (Blarney), last shot, for €600. In novice C scores at Paddoes, Kevin Ward defeated Dean Moony and Gary Maguire defeated Jack O’Leary. In a
return three-way at Curraheen on Sunday morning, Kevin Ward defeated Paul Walsh and Oliver Searls, one and two bowls, for a combined €1,350. In the East Cork novice A semi-final at Ballincurrig on Tuesday, Wayne Kingston defeated novice veteran winner, Paul Butler, last shot.
Paddy O’Donnell the current All-Ireland U18 winner, is North East junior A champion for 2023 after his victory over John O’Donoghue at Grenagh on Saturday. O’Donnell will meet the West Cork winner, Muiris Buttimer or Peter Murray in the county quarterfinal at Castletownkenneigh. In the North East novice championships at Corrin, novice A, Michael Ahern defeated Kieran Daly and in B Darren Bowen, a county winner in the grade in 2018, defeated Arthur P McDonagh. The North-East junior ladies had an exciting contest at Carrignavar as Joanne Murphy won from Sonia Ahern by just a few centimetres.
he big tournament action over the weekend was at Shannonvale where Patrick Flood put a lean spell behind him to win his Noel Phair Cup semi-final with Seamus Sexton. For a €5,700 total, Flood held a commanding two-bowl lead at the novice line, and it was enough for a final spot against either Martin Coppinger or Arthur McDonagh. On a good day for the North East visitors, Timmie McDonagh, last year’s county junior A runner-up, defeated local Alex O’Donovan, by two for a €14,000 total. At Lyre in the junior A tournament, City’s James O’Sullivan won by a bowl from Kenneth Murphy for a €4,100 total and in a doubles score back Terelton, Jamie McCarthy/Michael Murphy won from Ciara Buckley/Paudie Lucey, last shot, for €1,200. At Ballincurrig mid-week in a tournament contest, James Cooney defeated Michael O’Donoghue by a bowl of odds for €960.