Ból Chumann’s thirty-player panel travel to Meldorf in the province of Schleswig-Holstein, North Germany, this week to compete in the 16th European Championships. They go with confidence and with the expectation of a medal haul to match any from previous expeditions. It is an elite panel of players, the best that our current game can offer. It includes proven operators, individuals who have held their nerve in pressure situations to ensure the Irish banner was flying highest at many podium presentations. They have undergone a rigorous training regime overseen by Gretta Cormican and Billy McAuliffe, that included early mornings on the Castletownkenneigh bowling road, Moors practice at Inchydoney beach and Castletown auto-track as well as twice weekly gym sessions all of which has engendered a good camaraderie among the squad, and, for once, the rivalry engendered by our single-hand man-to man contests will be left aside in the common cause of maintaining Bol Chumann’s place at the top in Road Bowling and Dutch Moors disciplines. The Murphy brothers, David and Aidan, Martin Coppinger, Thomas Mackle, James O’Donovan and Gary Daly are the leading lights in a powerfully strong senior men’s team. David Murphy’s attempt to win four-in-a-row on the Road will captivate as will Martin Coppinger’s Road and Moors performances as we recall his incredible joust with Dutchman, Rob Scholten, on the Moors course at the anniversary games in 2019. Can one of our Irish women best Silke Tulk for the senior women’s Gold? Claire O’Sullivan came close in 2016 and is here again, and Kelly Mallon carries huge hopes. There will be expectation from Darragh Dempsey in the youths’ competitions given his barnstorming performances at the trials while The Sexton sisters, Margaret and Ellen, Rachel Kingston and Caoimhe Rafferty are an effective girls quartet.
Bol Chumann’s European odyssey received a resounding send-off at Council Chambers, County Hall, when Mayor Cork County, Gillian Coughlan, wished the assembled players and mentors the very best as they headed to Germany. Mayor Coughlan said of the team ‘you are wearing the jersey for all of us and are ambassadors for your sport and your country’ A Bandon native, Mayor Coughlan spoke of her familiarity with bowling through family connections and expressed her delight at its international dimension. She praised those who worked behind the scenes, some who had given years of their lives, to the preservation and promotion of the sport. She expressed her delight at being presented with a Ból Chumann banner, ‘a most thoughtful gift’ to mark the occasion of the launch. Cllr Eileen Lynch, Macroom, also spoke of bowling being part of our culture while Cllr Joe Carroll, who was instrumental in setting up the County Hall launch, spoke of his own bowling career which unfortunately he said did not reach European standards but was, nonetheless, very enjoyable. Chairman, Bol Chumann, Michael Brennan, expressed his thinks to Mayor Coughlan and to the staff County Hall for the wonderful reception his Association had been given. He said the current generation were proud to be following a tradition of European participation that began in 1969 at Losser, Holland, with the first ever venture abroad for an Irish Bowling team. Noelle Brennan, representing chief sponsor ‘Avenue House Health and Safety’ said her company were delighted to be associated with team and wished them well. Tide Construction, who are also sponsors, were thanked for their involvement. The attendance included Bol Chumann President, Liam O’Keefe, former chairperson, Susan Greene and Margaret Daly, Shannonvale, wife of the late Liam Daly, who was central to that pioneering visit in 1969.
It was another busy week of championship action. Patrick Flood advanced to the intermediate men’s semi-finals with a comprehensive win over Brian Wilmot at Templemartin. The overwhelming favourite in the €1,100 stake, Flood made a stuttering start, and it was Wilmot who looked like taking control but that all changed when the Fermoy youth fired a blistering fourth shot from way back to sight at ‘Slynne’s’ corner. Flood rose a bowl of odds in the shots to ‘O’Riordan’s’ and doubled his lead in nine to the ‘Schoolhouse cross’ There was no catching him thereafter.
It’s down to the last four in women’s senior after Hannah Sexton saw off the game challenge of Emma Fitzpatrick in the last of the group round-robin scores. Their clash at Shannonvale on Friday was a must win for Rosscarbery contender, Emma, but Hannah was convincing in a two-bowl victory. The semi-final line-up now is Meghan Collins v Hannah Sexton and Maria Nagle v Veronica O’Mahony with both and the County final fixed for All-Ireland venue, Ballincurrig. The quarterfinal draw for the women’s intermediate championship is Denise Murphy v Louise Collins at Clondrohid; Gretta Cormican v Hannah Cronin at Bauravilla; Juliette Murphy v Louise Daly at Newcestown; Chloe O’Halloran v Bernadette Murphy or Ciara Buckley at Newcestown.
The first of the county round junior A preliminaries took place at Lyre on Sunday, was a thrilling encounter won by Mid Cork champion, Tom O’Donovan. London’s champion, Patrick O’Driscoll was a worthy opponent, and the contest went level to ‘McCarthy’s bend’ in top-class bowling. O’Donovan blazed past the line eith three magnificent casts from here to garner a sixty-metre win. In the county quarterfinals, he meets North Cork’s David Hubbard at Ballyvourney.
O’Donovan, from Belgooly, also a major player in Germany this weekend, is the first winner of the Dan Joe Holland Cup, an imposing new trophy commemorating the late Oven’s man which has been donated by the Holland family to the Mid Cork region for their junior A championship. At Newcestown on Thursday, O’Donovan won a terrific battle with Sean Murphy for the 2022 title. A searing second shot to ‘Mac’s cross’ yielded a bowl lead and he held his ground amid a fierce Murphy challenge to keep that advantage to ‘O’Brien’s cross’. Murphy came again to knock it to thirty metres for the last shots, but O’Donovan held on. Bridie Holland presented the cup commemorating her late husband to the new champion at a pleasant after-score function in ‘O’Mahony’s Bar’. Also in attendance were Dan Joe’s brother, Declan, and long-time friends Finbarr and Joe Aldworth. In Mid junior B at Newcestown, Eugene Kiernan defeated Trevor O’Sullivan and, in novice C, Sean Nyhan won from Joshua Murphy. Also, in Mid Cork in novice D at Ballinacurra, Upton, Mick O’Callaghan defeated Dean Cowhig and in novice B here, John Hickey defeated Kevin O’Crualaoi.
South-West championships have produced their share of shocks and one of gigantic proportions came at Shannonvale on Thursday when Eoin McCarthy, a nephew indeed of former senior champion, Geraldine Daly, eliminated current All-Ireland U16 winner and Germany bound, Tom O’Sullivan. Tom bowled a good score but Eoin’s salvo from ‘Kingston’s’ to sight at the lower bend and a piledriver from ‘Campbell’s’ ensured a big turn-up for the books. In South-West novice D at Grange Brian Harrington defeated Sean Quirke and in novice veteran at The Pike Ger Hegarty defeated Danny O’Brien. In novice B at Shannonvale, Shane Nugent defeated Enda Conneally.
The West Cork junior A final went ahead at Derrinasafa at the weekend, and it is Denis O’Driscoll who carries the regional banner into the county rounds. Bar an opening shot of the short variety, this was a tour-de-force from the previous three-time winner from Drimoleague. That Christy Mullins, who had defeated O’Driscoll in the round-robin lead-up, was the adversary, ensured a bumper crowd at the Dunmanway venue and it showed in the whopping €40,000 total stake the contest carried. Mullins’ hopes of an early breakaway were thwarted when his first shot suffered an accidental block, but he still held sway holding fifty metres after four. O’Driscoll’s fifth from ‘Daly’s gate’ was a monstrous effort and when his sixth touched to sight at ‘Natties’ he was close to a bowl to the good. Mullins fought it splendidly hitting a mighty drive to ‘Cotter’s cross’ but O’Driscoll’s nine to ‘darkwood’ kept his lead intact. An explosive tenth almost doubled his lead and another past ‘Walshe’s lane’ effectively put the seal on a powerful display. Back in regional bowling after forty-three years at senior and intermediate level, Christy Mullins lost no caste in this defeat and there may be another swing of the arm for one of the true all-time greats of the bowling game. Donal McCarthy was on hand to present the Jimmy McCarthy Cup to the 2022 champion, and he acknowledged the regions commitment in completing the championship as well as wishing both players well in their future endeavours. Denis O’Driscoll plays the winner of East Cork (Mick Hurley) versus City (Cian Boyle) in the county quarterfinal at Newcestown.
Rachel Kingston is West Cork U18 champion after winning a thrilling decider with Marie Russell at Drinagh. In junior C at Ardcahan, an All-Togher Cross affair, Chris Murray defeated Liam Hurley. At Ballinacarriga in U18, a surprise, Andy O’Sullivan won from Brian Horgan and in novice veterans here, Donal O’Mahony won from Jim Cronin. In the novice B championship at Togher Cross, Brian O’Driscoll won from Michael A Cronin. Also, in West Cork mid-week there was an upturn in U18 when Mark Deane defeated David Horgan on the Inch road. The powerful Kilronan youth followed this up with a semi-final win over Con O’Sullivan at The Clubhouse. At Derrinasafa in novice C Daniel Hayes defeated Eoin Murray and in B at Togher Cross, Brian O’Driscoll defeated Michael A Cronin. In novice B at Ballinacarriga, Padraigh O’Sullivan advanced another round with a win over Vincent Healy. At The Clubhouse, novice A, Steve Hurley won from Finbarr Lynch and in D here, Darren O’Donovan won from Alan Crowley. In scores at Bantry, James Hurley defeated Seamus O’Regan in novice B and in novice veteran, Con McCarthy defeated Jan Tessyman. In West Cork championships junior C at Kealkil, Kevin Cotter won a tough duel with James Lordan to advance to the last four. They played for a total of €900.
Sean O’Regan is through too after his win over Neil Crowley at Durrus as is Noel O’Regan after his defeat of Humphrey O’Leary at Togher Cross. In the novice veteran grade at Durrus, Patsy O’Sullivan overcame James O’Driscoll while in Ardcahan in the same competition, Damien Hurley won from Dinny Nyhan. In novice vet at Drinagh, Jim Cronin defeated Barry O’Donovan. Drinagh had a busy weekend as David Horgan moved to the semi-final of novice A with a win from Liam Young and in novice C, Johnny Collins won from local contender, Derrick Jagoe. Con Collins is going great guns in novice C and notched up another win on his home road against the formidable John O’Sullivan, Durrus. At a busy Clubhouse venue, Stephen Hurley advanced to the novice A semi-final with victory over Finbarr Lynch and here too in U18, Brian Horgan won from James Russell. In West Cork novice A two likely contenders clashed at Drimoleague and it was Paul Kingston who advanced with victory from Sean O’Riordan. At Bantry in West Cork novice B, Padraigh O’Sullivan won from David Cotter in the last shot for an €800 total.
Mick Hurley won the East Cork junior A final at Ballincurrig by almost a bowl of odds. The former Dunmanway man toughed it out in brilliant style against 2017 county champion, James Cooney, and came good by almost a bowl of odds. Hurley plays City champion, Cian Boyle, in the county preliminaries this weekend at Glenabo. Tim Kelleher is Gaeltacht novice veteran champion for the third year running after his victory over Patrick Moynahin at Clondrohid.