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Bowling Report - Week ending 25th June

David Murphy has reclaimed top spot in Munster bowling. A two-bowl victory over archrival, Martin Coppinger, at a packed Ballincurrig on Sunday last secured a first county crown since 2018 and sets him up for a tilt at All-Ireland glory against another long-time adversary, Thomas Mackle, at the same venue on July 9. The cliffhanger that was the expectation of the vast throng that descended on the East Cork venue did not materialise mainly due to the control the new champion exerted from the third shot onwards. The estimation that it was a road to Murphy’s liking as evidenced in his record-breaking six King of the Roads victories there, proved correct and, despite being on the receiving end in most of their recent head to heads, there was a confidence in his camp as they threw off having matched the stake money at a whopping €42,400 aside. Coppinger was up for it too in this their first championship final match-up, drilling a perfect opener to sight at the first bend and following up with a scorching second shot that opened an eighty-metre gap. The next exchanges would have a vital bearing. Murphy fired a searing third while Coppinger’s response was a shade right and stayed on that trajectory with the result that his big lead was reduced to a metre. Murphy’s fourth escaped from the left and ran well to the ‘creamery’. It gave him a lead he would not subsequently relinquish although Coppinger did well to come within metres. Coppinger’s sixth from the no-play line, seemingly well-played, did not run kindly and Murphy’s steady play past ‘O’Riordan’s’ and on to the long straight reaped rich rewards in the shape of a bowl of odds lead. From well back, Coppinger’s brave attempt for sight at the ‘big turn’ did not escape the left chicane and, Murphy, sensible and astute in all his choices, held his bowl of odds and metres with it as they faced up the short straight. Coppinger’s thirteenth from here drifted left and Murphy was again inch perfect in increasing his odds. When the second bowl came between them two shots later, the Bantry native, sensing a lost cause, sportingly conceded. It is David Murphy’s fifth Munster title.

The morning junior B final provided the thrills and spills and pulsating finish that perhaps the senior final lacked. For Noel O’Regan it was a day to remember while for Noel O’Donovan, who gave his all in a magnificent battle, there was the heartbreak of defeat after victory seemed a certainty in the early part of the score. Togher Cross and West Cork came in numbers to support their man, but when O’Regan miscalculated with his third and, subsequently missed the no-play line with his seventh, handing his Upton rival a bowl of odds and seventy metre lead, there seemed no way back. Noel O’Donovan had all of Mid Cork in his camp and a forceful opening half saw him blaze through the lines in six. His play was assured and strong, best exemplified by a brilliant fifth shot around the ‘green’. O’Regan stared defeat defiantly and whipped an excellent eighth shot to ‘Heaphy’s’. It was the start of an incredible sequence. It was back to the even shot after his tenth, but it was an audacious twelfth to sight at the ‘big turn’ that stunned the road and brought the score level. O’Donovan had done nothing wrong and yet; his big lead was gone. He showed great resolve too in following another piledriver from O’Regan to retain a marginal advantage, but there was no stopping the Togher Cross man at this point as another brace brought him in front for the first time since the opening shot. Piling it on, O’Regan rose a bowl with three to go but then, sensationally, handed O’Donovan a glimmer when missing the last corner from a good stand. The Upton man couldn’t get close enough to stall O’Regan’s momentum and the Moxley Cup went to West Cork. They played for a total of €33,300.

The first county trophy for the 2023 season went to Drinagh. Emma Hurley brought a large entourage to Beal na mBlath for her challenge to Laura Sexton’s U16 crown and thrilled her support with one of the great championship displays of recent times. Their previous battles in U12 in 2019 and in Ted Hegarty’s tournaments at The Phale Road had gone the Timoleague girls’ way but only marginally, and there was high expectation again as they played away from ‘Bradfield’s cross’ on Thursday evening. Laura’s opener was a super cast along the centre and signalled intent on retaining her title. Emma’s determination that this was going to be here evening shone immediately as she came within metres of a formidable mark and, when she took the lead with her second shot, her focus never wavered as she maintained her position at the front. A fourth shot of prodigious length rose a bowl of odds and a sixth again perfectly played consolidated her lead. Laura’s fighting spirit showed in a superb ninth and she did not relinquish her crown easily, but such was the quality of Emma’s bowling that the odds increased to two bowls by the three-quarter stage. Emma closed it out with an astonishing throw to the finish line by the old Mossgrove creamery site and will go with confidence to the All-Ireland series at Ballincurrig on July 8/9.

The Dermot O’Sullivan Cup was up for grabs when the novice veteran county final was played out at Firmount on Friday evening. Paul Butler (East Cork) and Gaeltacht’s Michéal O’Ceallacháin had battled their way through regional and county rounds in impressive style and carried good support to the North Cork venue. For a €2,600 total stake, Butler took advantage when O’Ceallacháin’s second went left too soon and was away to a lead of almost a bowl of odds after three. That was short lived as the Baile Bhuirne man’s sixth cut the odds to ten metres. After a couple of even exchanges, Butler edged away again and a big tenth to ‘Buckley’s cross’ pushed him a bowl clear. O’Ceallachain came again with a fine twelfth shot but Butler would not be denied and, when his fourteenth touched off the left, the splendid trophy commemorating he late Dunmanway senior champion, was his for the taking. Paul Butler will play the winner of the junior veteran final, Noel Gould or Philip O’Donovan for the right to contest for the All-Ireland veteran title at Ballincurrig on July 8/9.

The boys U12 final went ahead at Timoleague on Saturday evening. Remarkably for a county wide competition, the finalists from the West Cork and Carbery divisions live just two kilometres apart. Eoghan Hickey, from Ballycomane plays out of the Durrus club and is brother of James who captured an All-Ireland in the U14 category in 2015. His opponent Brian Harrington hails from Dromoureen and as two-time U12 champion at the tender age of eleven, is one of Carbery’s best young talents. Both boys took a while to get going finding the downward stretch at the South-West venue difficult to manoeuvre. Brian held a narrow early lead before Eoghan came in front with a good third. The Durrus boy’s seventh was vital as it gave him a seventy-metre cushion which he soon transferred to a bowl of odds. Eoghan rose a second shot of odds on the downward stretch to ‘Barryshall cross’ and, although the Carbery champion finished strongly, it was not enough to prevent the Finbarr Murphy Cup going the West Cork division. Earlier in the week, at Castletownkenneigh, on Monday, Harrington despite a wayward opener, bowled an exceptional score to come out on top against Gaeltacht’s rising star Eoin Kelly. Both boys showed fine ability in the bowling down from ‘Kenneigh cross’.

This week’s county U16 final rests between North East’s John O’Donoghue and East Cork’s Ben Cooney. Another barnstorming display by O’Donoghue saw him defeat City’s likely contender, Anthony Crowley in the semi-final at Beal na Morrive on Tuesday. Almost a bowl up after four, O’Donoghue fired an exceptional sequence in the bowling to ‘Hubbard’s’ to double his lead. It was enough for a final spot at Ballincurrig this Friday.

The second of two preliminary round scores in the county junior A championship was played during last week. At Beal na Morrive on Thursday, City’s Patrick Stokes overcame Gaeltacht’s Eoin O’Riordan for a €1,300 total. O’Riordan won the opening exchange before Stokes came ahead after three. The City man continued to dominate and won by a bowl. He plays Carbery’s David Shannon in the quarterfinal round this week at Lyre. The first of the quarterfinals went ahead at Inchigeelagh on Saturday and produced a surprise result in the sense that the punter’s favourite, Mid Cork’s first-time champion, David O’Mahony, bowed out at the hands of North Cork’s experienced challenger, Mark Burke. Going for a €1,200 total, the North Cork champion, led for the first time after four. Having missed a few chances to pull away, Burke did eventually rise an eighty-metre advantage with a big eighth shot. O’Mahony beat big tips to keep the margin under the bowl in the subsequent exchanges but Burke was on a roll and rose the shot of odds with a splendid twelfth. It was enough of a cushion for a place in the semi-finals where he meets South West’s Denis O’Sullivan. The South-West champion won his quarterfinal clash with London’s Patrick O’Driscoll at Curraheen on Sunday morning. In a stakeless score, the bowling was average for a while before O’Sullivan took charge and won by a shot.

The intermediate quarterfinal at Bantry was, for the second year running, a local derby on the creamery road between the clubs two main men Donal O’Riordan and Tim Young. As in 2022, it was a wholesome battle with the lead changing on numerous occasions. O’Riordan did not make the best of starts and Young was away with a big early lead. O’Riordan whittled away but Young still led by ten metres with four to go. In an exciting finale O’Riordan edged ahead and eventually won by a big fore bowl. He plays Wayne Parkes in the semi-final at The Marsh Road. Gaeltacht’s Ailbhe O’Shea is through to the county U18 semi-final after a good contest with City’s Dilly Barry-Twohig at Bweeng on Thursday.

Peter Murray is West Cork’s junior A champion for 2023. The Togher Cross man, who won junior B last year, completed a successful step-up with a victory of almost two bowls over Muiris Buttimer at The Clubhouse on Tuesday evening. Bantry man, Buttimer, who won the opening score in their best of three series, made the better start and held a fifty-metre lead after firing an excellent shot. Murray rose to the challenge with a big third and was given an unexpected bonus when his fourth to sight at ‘O’Brien’s’ gave him a bowl lead after Buttimer failed to follow-up on his bright opening. That margin stayed between them to ‘Clon cross’ before Buttimer’s excellent effort to ‘Murray’s’ reduced the odds to a throw out. A further opportunity came at ‘O’Riordan’s’ but the Bantry man played too wide and Murray regained his earlier shot of odds. The Togher Cross man offered no more chances and was a convincing winner of the Jimmy McCarthy Cup. Donal McCarthy was at hand to present the imposing cup which honours his late father’s long-time involvement in bowling. The stake at The Clubhouse amounted to €2,400 and the West Cork champion will now take on North East’s youthful representative Paddy O’Donnell at Castletownkenneigh in the quarterfinal round of the county series. In a junior C semi-final shoot-out at Drinagh, Liam Hurley won a hard-fought duel with Paul Kingston, last shot, for €1,700. Hurley’s victory sets up an all Togher Cross final with Niall Crowley. Mark Dean is U18 champion for the second year running after winning from his brother Jonathan at Drinagh on Sunday morning. In a novice B quarterfinal score at Ballinacarriga on Thursday, Castledonovan’s Seamus O’Regan defeated Dunmanway’s Brian Hurley, last shot, for €1,900.

Tommy O’Sullivan is South-West U18 champion for 2023. For Ballineen’s Owen McCarthy there was no repeat of last year’s sensational result when he eliminated his then junior A graded opponent, but he put in a brave effort and kept the winning margin to a bowl of odds having been two down at ‘White’s cross’. Now up in intermediate ranks, O’Sullivan showed his class with two opening piledrivers which gave him huge early leeway. McCarthy did his best bowling in the latter half of the score but could not get close enough to cause another upset. Also in under-age, Rory Twohig is South West U14 champion after his win over Cathal O’Donovan at Lyre. Ivan Buchannon is going well in Novice A and secured another win at Timoleague this time from Gary Lombard. Ger McCarthy, Ballygurteen, is showing his potential in the South West novice C championship and was impressive again in a semi-final victory over the formidable Alan Murphy at Lyre on Wednesday. Also, at Lyre in in a novice C quarterfinal contest, Diarmuid Murphy defeated Eric Harrington, last shot, for €500.

Mid Cork’s championships progressed. A novice B semi-final at Ballinacurra, Upton, on Monday saw Kevin O’Crualaoi come out on top of a cracker with Kevin O’Donovan. Their contest carried a €1,500 total. In C, at Dunderrow, Barry Coughlan defeated Conor O’Donovan. Another school outing had Coppeen National School third and fourth classes trying their skills at the bowling game during the week. Caroline O’Leary, Gretta Cormican, Jimmy Hennessy and Finbarr McCarthy lent a hand and demonstrated technique to the pupils.

The Gaeltacht novice A championship is down to the final stages. At Clondrohid, Colm McLoughlin defeated Freddie Scannell in a score of missed chances. They played for a total of €1,240. Colm plays Cillian Kelleher in the semi-final. Noel Murphy is through to the decider after his win over Darren Kelly at Macroom. In novice B Patrick Moynahin defeated Jim Coffey (jun) at Kilnamartyra. In C at Clondrohid, Mattie McDonagh won from Adrian O’Driscoll. In D at Clondrohid, Jamie McCarthy defeated D D McCarthy for €640.

In a busy week of action in North Cork’s under-age grades, Jonathan O’Callaghan won the regional U18 final from Shane Dennehy at Firmount. The U14 decider was also played out at Firmount and coming through here is Ian Coleman from Rathduff in Grenagh. Ian won from Culainn Bourke after a good contest. Bweeng hosted the girls U14 three-way play off and here, Kilcorney’s Jenna Healy won a great final from Chloe Hubbard and Mia Hubbard. At Peake on Monday, Paul O’Rourke defeated Sean Moylan by almost a bowl for €1,440. In a score back the road, here, Jerry Hubbard defeated Jack Oldham, last shot, for €1,220. At Beal na Morrive on Tuesday after the U16 semi-final, Mark Long defeated David Crowley for a €3,500 total. Back after the junior A contest at Beal an Morrive, Bernard O’Donovan beat a huge last shot to deny James Collins for a €2,900 total. In a score back after the novice veteran final at Firmount on Friday, Ross Lynch won from Michael Brennan, last shot, for €2,000. At Beal na Morrive on Sunday in novice C, Kevin O’Donoghue defeated Liam McCarthy, beating a big last shot in the process for an €800 total. Back here, Simon O’Connell won in the last shot from Damien Burns for €900. In the North East junior ladies championship at Carrignavar, Sonia Ahern defeated Ellen Connolly.

City’s junior C championship progressed with a win for Dave Mackey at Templemichael over Myles Connors. It was a last shot victory for Mackey for a €1,300 total stake. Back the road, in novice D, Jeremy Downey defeated Michael Murphy in the last shot and, in the same grade later in the week, Pascal Bowen defeated Birol Kat. In novice C here, Garoid Spillane defeated Paul O’Connell by two bowls for a €700 total. In novice D at The Bog Road, Mick O’Driscoll (Blarney), a man with Reeanscreena connections, defeated Keith Kidney. In a return double here, Denis Connolly and Michael Geoghan combined for a win over Kieran Corrigan and Michael Morley, last shot, for €700. Still in the City scores at Paddies saw Abbey Walsh win the U12 regional final after a great score with Carla Healy. Also, at Paddoes, in novice C, Kevin Ward defeated Gary Maguire, two bowls, for €500 and, in D here, Ray O’Keefe defeated Bernard O’Donovan, last shot. The Joe Bowen Cup at Whitecurch is up and running and in the opening three-way, Andrew O’Leary defeated Tom O’Callaghan and Thomas Boyle for a combined three-way total of €2,850. At All-Ireland venue, Ballincurrig in East Cork, John O’Donoghue defeated Michael Murphy, one bowl, for €2,900 and Jamie McDonagh defeated Sean O’Leary by two bowls, for €1,900. On county finfal Sunday here, Richard O’Brien defeated Finbarr Coomey (Jun), last shot, for €3,000.

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