With a comeback for the ages Geraldine Daly-Curtin claimed the county senior championship for the fourth time at Castletownkenneigh on Friday evening last. There was heartbreak for Denise Murphy who contributed so much to an enthralling contest only to suffer the agony of seeing a first-time victory snatched from her grasp in those dramatic closing exchanges. Their eagerly awaited clash attracted a large crowd to the Mid Cork venue, and they were immediately engaged as both finalists gave hint of what was to come with outstanding opening shots. Denise beat a piledriver from the former champion and it spurred her to a period of dominance that seemed sure to win the day. Bowling down the Enniskeane line from ‘the triangle’, last year’s intermediate champion from Ballinagree fired shots with exceptional precision with the result that a bowl of odds lead was attained after a majestic fourth. That centre road track continued to yield rich dividends for Denise as a brilliant sixth to ‘the hollies’ pushed almost two bowls clear as Geraldine’s eighth to the same point went right off the play. Denise’s eighth was another superb effort down to ‘Willie John’s cross’, but Geraldine’s reply when beating a big tip to keep the margin under two bowls, suggested she was not throwing in the towel. A gradual whittling of the lead began in the next exchanges. Denise was not getting the traction on the centre line of her earlier deliveries and Geraldine upped her game reducing the lead to a bare bowl with four to go. The long-time leader got little from her thirteenth and suddenly what looked like an unassailable advantage was gone when her rejuvenated rival hit a thundering fourteenth shot to take a first-time lead. All the momentum now was with Geraldine Curtin and she duly won that last vital exchange with a sweeping fifteenth cast over the finish line. The joyous scenes that followed indicate a large exodus northward on August Bank Holiday weekend when the popular Timoleague resident will renew hostilities with her former adversary he seemingly invincible Kelly Mallon. Geraldine received the Brendan Roche Cup from Robert Roche, son of the fondly remembered former chairman of Bol Chumann. The contest did not carry a stake. Kelly Mallon retained her Ulster crown with a one victory over Dervla Toal-Mallon on Monday evening.
The men’s intermediate final at Ballygurteen on Saturday afternoon attracted another bumper crowd but, in contrast to the lady’s final, this was one that will not live long in the memory. That form is fickle was apparent early as shots of the short variety littered the score throughout. Brian Wilmot and Donal O’Riordan found it difficult to get to grips with the testing South West route. Both men had come through a testing campaign in good fettle and there was confidence in both camps as the substantial €15,700 total stake was balanced out. Both got very short openers and little from their second attempts before Wilmot lined a decent third shot to sight. O’Riordan missed sight with his third but, incredibly was in front after four when Wilmot caught the right dyke with a total misplay. There were high hopes among the large Bantry contingent when O’Riordan fired an excellent fifth to extend his lead to forty metres but unfortunately it was as good as it got for him as Wilmot regained the fore bowl with a good sixth on a difficult stretch of road. Bandon man, Wilmot, put his earlier travails behind him, and rose a bowl of odds with a good seventh from the ‘women’s lane’. O’Riordan enjoyed no luck with a well-played eighth and it was typical of a day, experienced by all bowlplayers at one point or another, when virtually nothing went right. The odds mounted as Wilmot did the needful. He doubled his lead with a good tenth and was three up when matters were terminated by ‘O’Donovan’s corner’. At the after-score presentation, he was wished well in his All-Ireland bid by Association chair, Michael Brennan and also too, by Donal O’Riordan who was ever gracious in a disappointing defeat. Brian Wilmot will play Ethan Rafferty in the All-Ireland intermediate final at Eglish on Sunday August 6th.
The performance of the week came from Denis O’Sullivan who claimed the Fr. Michael O’Driscoll Cup and the junior A county championship for 2023 with an awesome display at Templemartin on Sunday. Against the North East division’s youthful champion, Paddy O’Donnell, who had campaigned in both U18 and junior A, O’Sullivan set his stall out early lining four impeccable bowls to ‘Slynne’s corner’ to go the bones of a shot clear. O’Donnell faced an uphill battle at this stage and his aspirations received a hammer-blow when O’Sullivan unleashed a fifth shot of astonishing length that catapulted him into a two-bowl lead. The contest was effectively over when the South-West representative whipped another pile driver that had him at ‘O’Riordan’s house’ in a record-breaking six shots. Three bowls down, O’Donnell fought a lost cause manfully but made little inroads as the front man hit the ‘schoolhouse cross’ in nine. O’Donnell did bring it under the three bowls at this juncture before another monstrous effort from O’Sullivan terminated matters. O’Sullivan’s clash with Ulster champion, Eugene McVeigh, will be one of the highlights of All-Ireland weekend at Eglish. In the junior A semi-final at Ballincurrig on Thursday, Paddy O’Donnell’s sublime last shot got him through to the decider at the expense of City champion, Paidin Stokes. Neither semi-final or final carried a stake.
In an U18 quarterfinal score at The Clubhouse on Tuesday, Tommy O’Sullivan defeated Shane McCarthy, the Carbery champion by a big fore bowl. O’Sullivan’s four to ‘the chips’ had him a bowl up but a fine rally by the Skibb youth had him within metres of his intermediate graded rival at ‘O’Riordan’s’ and a shock of monumental proportions was on the cards. O’Sullivan repelled the danger with a good cast to ‘the school’ and won by a margin less than predicted. The South-West representative survived another torrid test in the semi-final at Derrinasafa on Sunday morning when Gaeltacht’s Cillian Kelleher rose a bowl of odds lead in the shots to ‘Nattie’s’. Three massive last shots swung it O’Sullivan’s way and he will contest with Mid Cork’s Conor O’Donovan for the county title this week at Ballinacarriga.
Rosin Allen and Ellen Sexton will contest this week’s girls U18 final at The Clubhouse. A superb inter-regional series has seen some wonderful contests between bowling’s upcoming female stars. The Rosin Allen-Emma Hurley rematch at Lyre on Wednesday attracted a big gathering and the girls didn’t disappoint. Having gone down to Emma in their U16 penultimate round score, Rosin had redress on her mind and set about it in determined style lining five opening shots that would have done justice to high grade adult bowling. Emma brought her All-Ireland winning form too but could do little with her Newcestown rival who was unbeatable on the evening. Typical was her beating a massive throw from Emma on the rough surface from ‘Ballycummar creamery’. At Beal namBlath on Friday Ellen Sexton and Gaeltacht’s Ailbhe O’Shea had a stirring battle. Ailbhe hit four excellent openers as they played away from ‘Bradfield’s cross’ and led by fifty metres. Ellen got a super cast mid-way through, and it swung the contest her way. The Timoleague girl took a sixty-metre lead to the last shots and needed that cushion as Ailbhe’s last was a superb effort. In an U14 quarterfinal contest at Terelton on Saturday, North-East’s Tommy O’Donoghue defeated Carbery’s Tom McCarthy, by two bowls. In girls U14 South-West’s Grace Ahern won from North East’s Abbie McDonnell.
In tournament action the third hosting of the Fearghal Beamish Cup was concluded on Sunday evening when Brendan O’Neill and Johnny O’Driscoll took issue in the decider. For a combined €4,500 this was a cracking contest from the outset as no more than a few metres separated them at any point. Level in six to the no-play lines at White’s cross it continued in similar vein to ‘Draper’s’ a point they both reached in eleven. O’Driscoll led by a small margin in the shots to the ‘novice line’ but allowed O’Neill to regain the ascendancy when he misplayed his fourteenth. In an exciting finale the Enniskeane man beat a big last tip to take the coveted cup and winner’s prize. John Beamish was at hand to present the trophy commemorating his fondly remembered son who died tragically in a work accident in July 2015. Rosscarbery hosted a senior contest on Sunday morning when James O’Donovan and Patrick Flood met in the opening score in the new Paddy Barry Cup tournament. For a €9,200 total, Flood had the misfortune to hit a manhole cover with his opening shot resulting in a bowl deficit. He fought back in splendid style and, without ever getting ahead, came within metres of his Bandon rival. The decisive shots from O’Donovan came with his ninth and tenth to and from ‘Barry’s cross’. It gave him a bowl lead which he held to the finish. At Lyre on Saturday evening in the junior B tournament, Ger Connolly came from almost a bowl down to defeat City’s dual championship winner, Noel Gould, in the last shot for a €4,200 total stake.
The first of the international trial sessions aimed at selecting the best to compete at the seventeenth European Championship games to be hosted by the German FKV Association in May 2024 at Newharlingersiel on Germany’s North Sea coast. The Coolea Road, Baile Bhuirne provided a testing route for over a dozen aspirants for the ladies’ teams. Senior and intermediate players posted good figures as did those in the U18 category.
The vintage championship is progressing and first through to the last eight in section B (Group A) which has fifteen starters is Drinagh’s Connie Connolly. Denis Nyhan was the opposition at Shannonvale on Wednesday last and they had a good tussle to ‘Desmond’s’. Connolly fired his winning sequence from here unleashing three big ones that brought him to the lag by ‘Kingston’s’. Vintage C group A has thirty-two in the hat and there are now two from Rossmore in the last sixteen after Finbarr Fitzpatrick showed that class is permanent with a fine first round win over previous sectional winner, Jerome O’Mahony, at Timoleague. Following on from Pat Joe Connolly’s victory last week, Fitzpatrick came through on the back of a display of pin-point accuracy and smooth delivery all achieved with minimal run-in. Advancing too are Jack Cahalane and Jim Cronin who had respective wins at Drinagh over Donal O’Mahony and Fachtna Keane.
Brian Murray captured the West Cork novice C title on his home road, Ardcahan, on Friday coming with a late surge to deny U18 champion Mark Deane who had made the early running. They played for a total of €2,200. The D final at Derrinasafa on Saturday evening went the way of local contender Johnny Kelly who edged out Peter Hickey for a €940 total. Sean O’Leary and Alan Brickley played out a thrilling novice B semi-final at Drimoleague on Thursday. O’Leary went almost a bowl up after a tremendous opener but undid his good work with a poor second. Brickley was to the fore in the next exchanges and rose a bowl of odds in the shots to the no-play line. O’Leary wasn’t done a fired five incredible shots that not only wiped out Brickley’s lead but won the score in the last shot. He played David O’Brien who defeated Seamus O’Regan in his semi-final at Drinagh on Wednesday, in the novice B decider at Drimoleague on Sunday evening. For a €2,640 total, O’Leary went almost a bowl up after four but was hauled back in the ensuing exchanges as they went level in ten each to the no-play lines. O’Leary could not repeat his finishing semi-final surge and it was O’Brien who took the laurels in the last shot. In the West Cork junior ladies championship on the Inch road, Dunmanway, Eirinn O’Donovan won from Grace Hickey and Marie Russell edged out Emer O’Connell. The winners meet in the final this week.
Gaeltacht’s Novice C final on Monday night in Terelton attracted a huge crowd for the meeting of Joe Creedon, Inchigeelagh and Mattie McDonagh from Clondrohid with a combined stake of €8,600 indicating big support for both camps. Both played average opening shots to the middle of the graveyard. Creedon was unlucky when his next fell right and McDonagh played an absolute miler to the lollipops which Creedon only beat by forty metres. Both made Foley's in five with McDonagh thirty metres fore and there was no big change down towards the garage, but here Creedon turned the score on its head with a bullet down past the pumps to the laurels. McDonagh followed it but missed the tip a yard, the first lead for Creedon who increased the lead to twenty metres after two more. McDonagh then lined a perfect bowl to past ‘the ducks’ which Creedon missed by 15 yards resulting in the lead changing again in terrible weather conditions. There was to be one more twist with the next exchange going to Creedon by metres. McDonagh was a shade unlucky and Creedon took his chance and narrowly missed the line and was eighty metres up for the last shots. McDonagh played absolute train past the line which left Creedon with a tricky bowl to beat but beat it he did independently to claim the Novice C championship in Reiguin Na Gaeltachta. The D final on the Coolea Road on Wednesday, Jamie McCarthy, fired six outstanding opening shots which put him on his way to a one bowl victory over Brian Crowley. For a €2,000 total stake, Crowley, who went two behind mid-way through, fought back well in the last quarter but could not get close enough. Colm McLoughlin defeated Darren Kelly in a return score at Ballyvourney. At Cil Na Martra on Sunday night Liam Murphy from Baile Bhuirne another of the younger generation of players met Brian Crowley in The Gaeltacht novice B final. Crowley was away early and led by 30 yards after five to ‘Browne's’. Murphy upped the tempo with four big shots to the halfway point to lead by ten yards. Murphy produced two massive shots to the ‘teach mor’, and rose a bowl with Crowley a shade unlucky not to beat the second of those big shots. Along the straight Crowley managed to bring the odds under the bowl. Facing down for the last two shots, Murphy had 120 yards and beat the line in his next to win by almost a bowl. Murphy had beaten his father Paudie in the semi-final and looks another player with a big future. Ailbhe O’Shea put the disappointment of her narrow U18 semi-final loss at Beal na mBlath on Friday firmly behind her when, on the following evening, she scored a hard-earned regional junior ladies win at Clondrohid over Kilnamartyra’s Laura Creedon. Ten excellent shots to the ‘corner house’ gave the Macroom girl leeway enough for victory.
Shane Collins won the North Cork junior C final at Firmount on Saturday. Playing Olan Noonan for a €4,200 total, Collins rose a bowl lead at the half-way point and held his lead despite a defiant late charge by Noonan. In a doubles score back the road, Stephen Spillane and Jack Oldham defeated Martin Kelleher and Mikey McAuliffe, last shot, for €2,300. In the junior ladies semi-final at Beal na Morrive Rebecca Wall won a good contest with former county runner-up, Emer Galvin. The North Cork novice C final at Bealnamorrive on Monday evening was contested by Kevin O’Donoghue and Martin Kelleher. With a €1,440 total at issue, it was Kelleher who made the early running going a bowl up at ‘the hedge’. O’Donoghue levelled with two splendid shots to ‘sight’ and then went on to take the spoils in the last shot. Back here, Mickey McAuliffe defeated Paul Twomey, last shot, for €3,000. In North Cork’s U12 girls championship semi-finals at Bweeng on Tuesday, Chloe Hubbard won from Keeva Ruby and Mia O’Donoghue and Mia Hubbard won her contest with Alisha Hickey and Alanna Ruby.
Bernard O’Donovan won the City novice B final at Templemichael, defeating Alan Murphy by a bowl. In a couple of other scores here, Johnny Byrnes defeated Tom Connolly, last shot, for €520 and Maurice Connolly defeated Ryan Buckley by two bowls, for €600. In a novice D quarterfinal at The Bog Road, Pat Cunningham defeated Ken Long. Back here, Jack O’Leary defeated Michael O’Driscoll, Blarney, last shot, for €520. West Cork men had mixed fortunes at Curraheen when Joe Creedon defeated Con O’Sullivan, last shot, for €1,200 and David Horgan defeated Jamie McCarthy, last shot, for €1,000.
In the East Cork novice A final at Ballincurrig, Wayne Kingston, a junior b county winner in 2011, defeated Sean O’Leary in the last shot. Also here in a novice D quarterfinal, Eoin O’Riordan defeated Pat Lee. In the North-East junior C semi-final at Corrin, Willie O’Donnell defeated Timmie McDonagh, last shot.
Pat Murphy, another great from yesteryear, went to his reward recently. Pat, from Mahon in Cork City but originally from that renowned bowling bastion of Templemartin in Mid Cork, was one of a trio of brothers whose exploits through the seventies, eighties and nineties garnered county and All-Ireland honours on a regular basis. Pat, perhaps achieved the most, John and Jerry not far behind. Described in Flor Crowley’s report on the 1970 All-Ireland finals at Knappagh, Co. Armagh, as ‘The best junior All-Ireland champion to date’, Pat was at his regal best in that period of the seventies and early eighties. In the county junior A final of 1970, Pat defeated Paddy O’Leary of the East division at City venue Togher and he brough a large entourage to the Orchard county in pursuit of All-Ireland glory. The up-and-coming Colm Grimley was in the opposing camp. Flor states ‘the bowling was of extraordinary standard for junior players, and it was a score that had to be fought out to the last shots before it could be safely be said that it was won’. Pat’s opening ten shots were of record-breaking proportions. It would be but one of many triumphs for Pat Murphy. His brother, John, was sometimes his rival and they met in the 1982 intermediate county final at Crossbarry when John emerged the winner. Pat Murphy’s prowess as an intermediate player came to the fore when he came through a quality field to contest the final again the following year this time defeating Pat Sutton in a well-contested final at Ballyshonin. Another All-Ireland was achieved a few weeks later when he defeated the great Aidan Toal to claim the 1983 crown at the same venue. Pat’s interest in bowling never waned and he was ever present at the countless scores involving his own family and extended family members. He was among the large attendance that witnessed the success of his nephew, David Murphy, at the county final at Ballincurrig on June 25. Pat was laid to rest in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery on Saturday last, his funeral cortege accompanied by his many bowling friends from the City and Mid Cork divisions. Sympathies are extended to the Murphy family and extended families. Rest in Peace.