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Bowling Report - Week ending 18th March


The opening score in the 2024 women’s senior championship took place at Beal na mBlath on Saturday last. With John Lowney Jewellers, Clonakilty, aboard as sponsors for the twenty-fourth year, the championship has two groupings and sixteen round robin scores to deliver a quartet of players who will contest the semi-final rounds. Saturday’s opener was a repeat of the 2023 decider, an extraordinary contest at Castletownkenneigh filled with drama and excitement. Conditions were different at Beal na mBlath when Geraldine Curtin and Denise Murphy re-engaged with intermittent rain and mist making it a difficult day for players and spectators. The pattern of play was different too as Geraldine Curtin, thanks to a blistering start, needed no comeback charge to achieve victory. In getting her defence underway, Geraldine fired two opening shots of the highest order. Taking her from the start line above the monument to a point twenty metres beyond ‘the palms’, they yielded a bowl of odds lead on her north Cork rival who had not made any major errors. Denise fired good fourth and fifth shots and, with Geraldine not getting the same traction as in her opening brace, the odds were down to sixty metres as they played past ‘Murphy’s house’. It was as close as the 2022 intermediate champion would get as her form dipped in the subsequent exchanges. Geraldine found her groove again and regained her shot advantage after six throws. She quickly doubled her lead and there was no way back for Denise after the defending champion fired an exquisite effort through ‘Bradfield’s cross’ that put her out of sight. In a competitive section A group that includes Veronica O’Mahony, Meghan Collins and Emma Fitzpatrick, Denise will have opportunities to re-ignite her challenge while Geraldine’s winning point will stand her in good stead for future battles.


St. Patrick’s weekend was dedicated to fund-raising scores aimed to defray costs associated the forthcoming European Championships when a panel of thirty will travel to Germany on May 8th. It was, overall, generally well-supported and the Association is grateful for the endeavours of so many, oft times in trying conditions. A raft of cancellations scuppered Rosscarbery’s Saturday programme, but scores allocated to Carbery/West and South-West regions did go ahead at The Clubhouse on Sunday and Shannonvale on Monday. The City region had a score at Curraheen leaving Mid Cork/North and Gaeltacht the main contributors with twelve played at Ballincaurra, Beal na Morrive and Clondrohid. There was high praise for those participating at the Mid Cork venue on Saturday. John A Murphy, Templemartin, and Stephen Murphy, Ballinagree, played in a virtual downpour and produced a stirring contest for a €3,400 total. After the Templemartin man won the opening exchanges, it was his Ballinagree rival who had the better of it in the shots to ‘Brinny cross’ at which point a bowl of odds separated them in the north Cork man’s favour. In terrible conditions, John A Murphy gradually reeled in the deficit and led by metres for the last shots. Stephen Murphy’s final cast was a good one, but John Anthony stayed strong and beat it with aplomb. The return at Ballinacurra was a three-way novice 2 duel between John MacSullivan, (North), Mark Courtney (Mid) and Jamie McCarthy (Gaeltacht). It carried a €1,350 total three-way and a further €2,100 (MacSullivan/Courtney). It was MacSullivan who dominated from the off. A fine display from the Ballinagree man had him in front at all points and he came home a winner with Courtney in second place. The feature of the day was the meeting of Gaeltacht’s Conor Creedon and Mid Cork’s Kenneth Murphy. Creedon took a stranglehold in the shots to ‘Innishannon cross’ and emerged the winner by almost a bowl of odds. In the last of the day, Paul Twomey, runner-up in the county novice D championship last year, took the victory from Niall Murphy by a bowl of odds for a €6,660 total.


On St. Patrick’s Day the bowling faithful turned out in numbers at The Clubhouse and Beal na Morrive in support of the international fund-raisers. Four scores at each venue were well-contested with many ending in last shot finishes. Brian O’Driscoll was a star performer at The Clubhouse exhibiting power and poise in a two-bowl victory over David Hegarty. He was aided of course by an erratic start by the Lyre man whose opening shot on the inward route was of the short variety. A bowl of odds came between them after three but when Hegarty upped his game lining good efforts down to ‘O’Riordan’s’ and on past ‘Murray’s’, O’Driscoll’s responses were electric. Fast speedy deliveries came off brows and ran for great distances not only ensuring his lead was maintained but increased. A super effort to ‘Clon cross’ doubled his advantage and two more of the highest order had him in an unassailable position with three to go. The stakemoney at issue amounted to €10,200. Earlier in the day at The Clubhouse a doubles contest saw South-West men, Gavin Twohig and Darren Harrington combine for a last shot win over the Bantry/City pairing of Donal O’Riordan and Deccie O’Mahony. Novice men, Harrington and O’Mahony more than played their part in a very close score that went right to the wire. They played for a total of €2,800. The afternoon scores saw John Cahalane take the spoils from his encounter with Clon’s John O’Driscoll. Playing out for an €8,400 total, the Skibb man made a bright start hitting the bend by ‘O’Brien’s’ with four quality shots to go a bowl up on his South-West rival. Cahalane held his lead in good bowling to ‘Clon cross’ before O’Driscoll reduced the margin with a fine effort from here. The Carbery man responded to this challenge with an excellent brace that restored his earlier advantage and he put the issue beyond doubt with another fine cast to ‘the garage’. In the last of the day, Jim Coffey won in the last shot from Denis O’Sullivan for a €10,000 stake. O’Sullivan led for the first time after four and then fired two excellent efforts to take a big lead. Coffey levelled it in the next exchanges and from hind bowl for the last shots, fired the winning throw, a monstrous effort that beat the line from a long way back.

There was excitement aplenty at Beal na Morrive as the day started with a thrilling contest between youthful exponents, Conor Lucey of the host club and Cathal Creedon of the Gaeltacht division. Going for a €3,100 total, it went shot for shot for the opening four before Lucey took a handy lead with his fifth. Creedon wiped that out with an excellent sixth and it was the Gaeltacht player who was ahead after nine. They matched each other in the next phase with just twenty metres separating them for the final exchanges. Lucey’s fourteenth was a great effort and it won the day when Creedon’s fine response missed by mere metres. Gaeltacht were in the winner’s enclosure in the return when veteran campaigner, Paudie Murphy, took on Dan MacSullivan Cup winner, David Crowley for a €4,400 stake. Murphy edged away from the fourth shot onwards and was a bowl clear after six. Amid good exchanges Murphy held his lead and won by the shot. The feature of the day had former senior champion, Edmund Sexton, in against Mid Cork’s new junior A campaigner, Noel O’Donovan. Just as O’Donovan looked like raising a bowl of odds, Sexton produced a huge cast to ‘the palm’s’ to keep it more or less level. Top notch exchanges followed as O’Donovan doggedly clung to a slender lead. His persistence paid as he eked out a last shot win from an exciting finale. They played for a total of €7,000. In the last of the day at Beal na Morrive another close-quarter encounter delivered a grandstand win for Ballyvourney’s Liam Murphy. In against North Cork’s Damien Burns who is on the cusp of a winning run, the Gaeltacht youth fell a bowl behind as his Rusheen rival took early command. Murphy’s blinding finish reeled in the odds and a monstrous last shot yielded a five-metre win. They played for a total of €3,100.


The action moved to Shannonvale and Clondrohid on Bank Holiday Monday. Early winners at the South West venue were the pairing of local campaigner, John Connolly and Mid’s Deccie O’Mahony who bested Ballinacarriga’s Padraigh O’Sullivan and City’s Tom Reaney. For a €5,600 total, O’Sullivan/Reaney missed chances at ‘Kingston’s lane’ and were left to rue when Connolly fired the score-winner on the incline to ‘Tobin’s’. Back the road here, Dunmanway’s Vincent Healy brought a bowl lead on Darren Harrington to ‘Desmond’s cross’. Harrington levelled and led, but, in an exciting finish, Healy produced a big last shot to take the victory. They played for a €6,600 stake. The day’s feature had old rivals Tim Young and Wayne Parkes in opposition. For a €6,000 total with Parkes the punter’s favourite, it was Young who took charge from the outset. An excellent salvo to the ‘quarry bend’ gave him momentum to carry the bones of a bowl lead to ‘Desmond’s cross’. Parkes threatened with a hug bowl to the top of the rise, but Young’s ninth was a superb effort and rose the bowl of odds. In delivering one of his best performances in a while, the Bantry man scorched to ‘Campbell’s’ in three more and came home a convincing winner. In the last of a hectic day at Shannonvale a mixed doubles contest between West Cork’s Kieran Hourihane and Emma Hickey and the Carbery pairing of Denis O’Sullivan and Triona Murphy. It carried a €10,200 total stake and O’Sullivan’s sweeping opener yielded an early bowl lead for the Carbery duo. Intermediate graded Emma was in top form as the early deficit was reeled in and, in an unexpected turnaround, Hourihane’s fine play to the lines at ‘Desmond’s’ put the West Cork duo in the ascendancy to the tune of a bowl of odds. Hourihane/Hickey ran out winners.

At Clondrohid a strong performance from the North Cork pairing of Matthew Bradley and Martin Kelleher saw them take the three-way victory over Gaeltacht’s Brendan O’Callaghan and Mattie McDonagh and Mid Cork’s David Crowley and Donnacha O’Driscoll. The stake at issue here amounted to €2,550. In the days second score, Anthony Cullinane won from Andrew Kelleher and Tommy Maloney. On a good day for North Cork at the Gaeltacht venue, Shane Collins won his three-way with Darren Oliver and Mid Cork’s Brendan O’Neill. The 2023 junior C county winner was in front at most points but was closed in the last shots by Oliver whose late rally brought him within twenty metres as they faced the line. The Armagh native’s final effort crossed right, and Collins took the victory. They played for a total of €2,400 x 3 and a €2,000 further tally between Collins and Oliver. The City region had an international fund-raiser at Curraheen on Monday and here Trevor O’Meara defeated Mark Bourke, last shot, for €800.

In West Cork championship action, the boys U14 grade progressed. At Kealkil, Conor Hourihane of Bantry, Dublin bound this weekend as part of Cork’s quartet in the inter-provincial team play-offs, won his first rounder with Aaron Hurley while at Ballinacarriga Timmy Gibbons advanced. Also, in U14 at Inch, there was a win for Durrus boy Leo Arundel who just edged out Jamie O’Sullivan, Kilbarry and, at Durrus, last year’s U12 champion Eoghan Hickey came through his opening round contest in the higher age-group with a hard-earned win over Oisin Murray. At Inch too in novice D, Bantry’s Jan Tessyman won from Connie O’Driscoll. At Ballinacarriga in novice D, Ian O’Sullivan defeated Kevin O’Donovan.


Elsewhere, Ted Hegarty’s tournaments are winding down on The Phale Road. In the junior ladies/U18 section there was a repeat of last year’s thrilling county final when Ailbhe O’Shea and Siobhan Kelleher met in a semi-final shoot-out on Sunday morning. The result went the same way with Ailbhe just shading the verdict.


With the youths’ inter-provincials at Newcastle on Saturday and adult team finals at Casletownkenneigh on Sunday taking precedent on this coming weekend, it will be back to singles and doubles scores for the premier events over the Easter period.


A preliminary glance at Bol Chumann Uladh’s Bol Fada series sees a large southern input starting with an enticing under-age doubles on Good Friday evening involving Cork’s U18 and U12 champions, Ellen Sexton and Eoghan Hickey against Armagh’s Michella Greene and Jack O’Reilly and culminating with the Joe McVeigh Cup decider on Easter Sunday between Aidan Murphy and Thomas Mackle. It is the third head-to-head of 2024 involving the game’s leading lights. They have a home win each from clashes at Castletownkenneigh and Madden and much will be expected from their meeting on the Tassagh road. Regional and county championship scores will be in full spate while Fisher’s Cross will host the annual inter-regional fund-raisers between the Carbery and South-West regions. Among the list for this three-day series are scores between Adrian Buttimer and Johnny O’Driscoll and, in the novice sector, Gavin Crowley v Ronan O’Donovan. Both Bol Fada and Carbery South-West fixture lists will be reviewed in detail next week.


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