The Tim Foley Cup, confined to those in intermediate ranks, is a long-time staple for Templemartin club and the latest hosting had Eamonn Bowen and Wayne Callanan, well acquainted with each other in recent weeks, in opposition in a first-round score that certainly didn’t set any records in terms of quality bowling but was close enough to hold interest right to the end. Callanan was the slight favourite in the €1,800 total stake and made the better start firing a big opening shot that Bowen, with an almost equally good reply came within metres of. Carrignavar man, Bowen had the better of the exchanges to Slynne’s corner, where a big fifth had him forty in front at this juncture. Having had a win apiece in their most recent engagements, at Ballincurrig and in the Wolfe Memorial at Waterloo, it was expected to be tight and Callanan levelled it with a big seventh to the ‘nooks’ but, in the scores best exchange, Bowen beat a big tip of his to extend his lead after eight. Bowen’s eleven to the ‘school-house cross’ had him throwing big odds but, in a quick turnaround, Callanan’s fired an excellent thirteenth to the ‘stonefield bend’, that regained the fore bowl. A few short ones from Bowen at ‘Buttimer’s’ left Callanan in command but he too erred with his seventeenth and his big lead was down to twenty metres. The City man’s follow-up missed a poor effort of Bowen’s and the Carrignavar man, now unexpectedly in front again, consolidated his lead with his nineteenth to sight at the ‘pub corner’. Sixty in front for the last shots, Bowen, won the day with his twenty-second throw over the finish line. Another first-round contest to look forward to is the repeat of the previous tournament’s final. Wayne Parkes, the cup holder, will play Bantry’s Tim Young. In other tournament action, the Jerh Cotter Cup progressed at Terelton with two scores. In the first of these, Paul Twomey and James McCarthy had a good tussle that ended with county novice D runner-up, Twomey, who made a brilliant start, the winner for a combined stake of €1,040. Also, through to the next round is Gaeltacht’s Niall Murphy who edged out Kevin O’Sullivan for a €1,140 total. In an amazing Tim White Cup turnaround at Rosscarbery Noel O’Donovan came from almost two bowls down to defeat Noel O’Regan, by a bowl for €8,000.
The vintage grade is set up for three intriguing sectional finals after another busy Sunday for the stalwarts past the sixty mark. Christy Mullins survived a stiff test provided by North Cork’s Eugene O’Sullivan at Gaeltacht venue, Clondrohid, on Sunday morning last and will play Mid Cork’s Jerry Murphy in the A decider at Shannonvale on Sunday next. Mullins’ close to two-bowl winning margin does not reflect what was a close score for much of the way. The Bantry man conceded the opening throw but raised his game with excellent shots to ‘Tierbeg cross’ where he led by a shot. O’Sullivan staged a spirited rally in the bowling past the ‘Bell Inn’ and came within metres of taking the lead. Mullins needed a big shot from the ‘farmhouse’ to stay in front and took control again with a searing drive two from home. Castletownkenneigh are hosts for the section B and C finals. Michéal O’Ceallacháin and David Walsh are the protagonists in the B final. Walsh ended the fine run of last year’s B winner, Donal Harnedy, at Drinagh on Sunday afternoon. For a €2,900 total, the former Clodagh man did the damage with his opening four particularly a massive second shot that enabled him make sight at ‘the church’ with his next two. Harnedy was a bowl adrift here and was very unlucky with his sixth for the ‘rectory gates’ as he strove to stem the tide. The Carbery man did well to keep it at a bowl of odds with a splendid eighth to ‘Shandrum cross’ but missing sight at ‘the blacksticks’ derailed his comeback charge and Walsh, whose twelve to the line represented excellent bowling for the road, came through with a big bowl of odds to spare. O’Céallachain won his semi-final from Paddy Kinsella at Kilcorney on the previous Sunday. City’s Con O’Donovan and Carbery’s Jack Cahalane will fight it out in the section C decider playing out the Castletown route on Sunday next. O’Donovan defeated North East’s Eddie Barry at Bweeng on Sunday last by a wide margin. For an €1,100 stake, Barry who had defeated Pat Scanlon in a North East veteran’s final at Carrignavar on Saturday, led after O’Donovan miscalculated with his third but it was a brief period at the front. O’Donovan powered on to rise a bowl of odds by the ‘tinny house’ and had doubled his lead by the three-quarter stage. Barry tried to the end but to no avail. Drinagh were hosts too for the western C play-off between Jack Cahalane and Donal O’Sullivan. This one carried a €1,600 total and a misplay with his third cost O’Sullivan a bowl of odds in the early stages. When Cahalane doubled his lead in the bowling down from ‘Shandrum cross’ the contest looked effectively over but O’Sullivan made significant inroads with two big efforts to the ‘new line’ cross. Cahalane responded well and finished a big bowl of odds winner.
The regional novice E competitions command interest aplenty as the year winds down. The John Hennessy Cup is up for grabs when Castletown’s John O’Callaghan and Dylan Murphy, Brinny, play off in the Mid Cork final. O’Callaghan and his namesake Gene, from Beal na mBlath, had a battle royal at Castletownkenneigh on Saturday in the second of the competition’s regional semi-finals. Going for a €2,600 total, John’s massive second shot rose a two-bowl lead, but this was quickly halved when Gene’s fifth ran well to ‘Kenneigh cross’. John regained his earlier advantage and was consistent in the bowling down from the ‘triangle’. Novice E’s in West Cork were in action at several venues. On the famed old Inch road in Dunmanway, Chris Bowles, of South African heritage, showed his paces when winning a three-way contest from Shane O’Donovan and John Murray. Also here, Timmie O’Sullivan, Durrus, won from James O’Driscoll and Sean Lucey and Conor Bursells won from Niall Forbes and Thomas O’Sullivan. At The Clubhouse, Daniel Dullea, Farranlubbis won from Kieran Daly, Drimoleague, and Kevin Hurley won from John O’Brien. At Ballinacarriga, Jack Murphy won from Christopher Walsh and Donal Hayes won from Paul Colgan. At Togher Cross, Brendan McCarthy won from John O’Donovan and Drimoleague’s Noel O’Brien won from Ronan Hurley. In E scores at Drimoleague, Michael Carroll won from Padraigh McCarthy and Ian Crowley won from Liam O’Brien. In North Cork, at Firmount, Tony Barrett defeated Padraigh Kelleher for €1,100 and Alan McMahon defeated Aidan O’Brien by two bowls, for €480. In the North East division, Eddie Barry defeated Pat Scanlon, last shot, in a veteran’s play-off and, in a return double here, Declan O’Leary and Bernard O’Donovan combined for victory over Ryan and Evan Buckley, last shot, for €1,400. In Gaeltacht novice E, at Ballyvourney, regional chair, Eamonn McSweeney, defeated Don O’Leary by two bowls. In a North Cork boys U10 competition at Kilcorney, Bobby O’Sullivan won from Owen Hubbard.
In other club action around the county, Tim Cahalane defeated Padraigh O’Callaghan, one bowl, for €1,300, at Shannonvale where too Chris Cronin defeated Kevin Coughlan, two bowls, for €700. At Whitechurch Andrew O’Leary and Jimmy Quilligan shared wins from two scores. Quilligan won the first, last shot, for €1,600 and O’Leary the second by two bowls for €1,800. At The Bog Road, Michael Gould and Johnny Byrnes combined for a doubles win over Declan O’Leary and Bernard O’Donovan, last shot, for €1,000 but roles were reversed in the return with O’Leary/O’Donovan taking the spoils from the outward victors for €1,400. In a score back Bweeng after the vintage C semi, Denis O’Donovan won from Simon Buckley, two bowls, for €600.
Bol Chumann ladies committee reviewed their 2023 programme of events at their AGM held at Castletownkenneigh on Monday 16. Chairperson, Caroline Smith, gave a comprehensive overview of their aims and objectives and proclaimed the past twelve months a rewarding and progressive one from her standpoint. She said she worked with an excellent team and thanked them for their endeavours behind the scenes and support when making decisions that had to be made. Caroline thanked Bernadette Murphy for her work with the youth’s sector and Emma Fitzpatrick for her positive involvement in encouraging participation at the ongoing international trials. Gretta Cormican’s induction into the West Cork Sports Stars Hall of Fame at the Awards dinner at The Celtic Ross in February was a singular honour for women’s bowling and one of the years highpoints. Caroline said Women’s Bowling still had to fight uphill battles with negative attitudes, fear of judgement and lack of opportunity providing barriers to expanding their game. She urged clubs to involve women’s bowling in tournaments. She concluded by saying that ‘the potential for greatness lives within each one of us’.
Gretta Cormican’s extensive secretarial report highlighted an eventful year for women’s bowling which began with former Association chair, Susan Greene’s selection as bowling’s Hall of Fame winner for 2022 and Rachel Kingston’s nomination as Player of the Year at Bol Chumann’s Award’s night last December. Adult and under-age open days at Dunderrow, Rosscarbery and Ballyvourney, North Cork girls (Chloe Hubbard, Rihanna Collins, Jena Healy) triumph in the under-age team finals on the Phale Road in February and the championship season covering three adult and four under-age grades were covered in detail. Geraldine Curtin won senior, Ciara Buckley, intermediate, Ailbhe O’Shea, junior, Ellen Sexton U18, Emma Hurley, U16, Jena Healy U14 and Chloe Hubbard U12 while Ellen and Emma subsequently claimed All-Ireland honours. Maria Nagle and Hannah Cronin won the senior and intermediate leagues respectively. Gretta thanked fixtures secretary, Richie Fitzgerald for facilitating all their scores. Excellent performances by Geraldine Curtin, Veronica O’Mahony and Ciara Buckley and the huge improvements brought about by the international trials were also touched on. Gretta commended her colleague, Caroline, on ensuring Garda Vetting and Child Safety courses were put in place for all members. Among her personal highlights were her West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame Award and ‘The Score’ Art exhibition by James Luke Hayes which opened to much acclaim in Macroom Town Hall in July. Gretta expressed her regret on the retiral of Michael Brennan from his position as Chair Bol Chumann na hEireann.
She concluded by thanking her fellow officers for their support and cooperation. Treasurer Emer Wilmot issued a detailed report on finances. Bol Chumann Honorary Secretary, Micheal O’Céallachain was effusive in his praise for the work done by the ladies committee and wished them well in their future endeavours. Officers selected for 2024 were, President, Susan Greene, Chairperson, Caroline O’Leary, Vice chair, Bernadette Murphy, Secretary, Gretta Cormican, Treasurer, Emer Wilmot, Fixtures Secretary, Richie Fitzgerald, Youths officer, Meghan Collins.
Bol Chumann regrets the passing of an iconic figure in Ulster bowling. Gerald McKee, who was laid to rest following requiem Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Monday morning last, was a bowl-player of consummate skill and gritty determination. For a period in the late sixties and early seventies he won Ulster titles in intermediate and junior A and was a formidable opponent for Cork’s champions as the All-Ireland series entered its second decade. Gerald made his mark in the junior A grade in 1969 when defeating Cork’s highly rated champion, Paddy O’Donoghue, in the national decider at Grenagh. Two years later he came to Cork again as Ulster intermediate champion and gave further vent to his burgeoning status when defeating Mick Sexton in a thrilling All-Ireland final at Ballyshonin. Flor Crowley would write in his report ‘McKee has been described as the new McParland and I think that most of us who have seen him might not at all disagree with that description. McKee has a lot of McParland’s speed and a good deal of his toughness, and he was by far the best of the three Armagh men on view last weekend’. Gerald contested another junior A All-Ireland in 1985 going down to Donie Crowley on the Cathedral Road. Off the road Gerald was influential in setting up the inaugural King of the Roads hosting at Ballincurrig in 1984. His liaisons with Seamus O’Tuama and Christy Santry ensured the match-up of Bill Daly and Harry Toal was put in place. It set in motion a chain of events that has seen the festival grow and prosper with each passing year. Gerald also played an important role in the visit of the Armagh bowling contingent to Skibbereen in 1989 where they were accorded a civic reception and played a number of high-profile scores on The Marsh Road. Gerald is fondly remembered by the bowling fraternity north and south. Ar dheis De go raibh a Anam Dilis.