With a last shot for the ages, David Murphy, claimed a fifth Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads title at Ballincurrig on Sunday afternoon last, Gary Daly’s game challenge finally broken at the end of the most dramatic of finals. The famed festival made a welcome return delivering an eight-score programme filled with the best the bowling game has to offer. Sunday’s men’s final had it all, the pity that there had to be a loser after an enthralling contest. Both had excelled in Saturday semi-final victories and the tempo was raised after one of the most explosive starts seen in the festival’s long history. Murphy was the money favourite in the €10,300 total stake and faced an immediate test when Daly threw off with one of the longest opening shots seen at the venue. The Brinny man showed he was up for it when coming within metres and he threw down the gauntlet then with two exceptional efforts that brought him right around to the end of the ‘green’. Undaunted, Daly matched both and held a slender lead at ‘the lines’. Murphy’s screamer up the ‘long straight’ looked like giving him a meaningful advantage, but Daly kept it level with a splendid tenth to the ‘big turn’. The Fermoy man was going for glory then with a superb eleventh up the ‘short straight’ and Murphy’s hopes looked forlorn close to a bowl down with four to go. Throwing his odds, Daly’s next went right and when Murphy lined a big one to ‘the elbow’, the ascendancy was back with the Brinny man. The relentless drama continued as Murphy’s next caught the right-hand grass leaving him thirty behind for the final exchanges. He dug himself out in spectacular fashion with a last shot that swung to the end of ‘O’Connell’s green’ giving Daly an almost impossible task. The 2019 champion made a gallant effort but fell nine metres short leaving David Murphy now on a pedestal level with Bill Daly on five King crowns each.
The buzz was still there as the three-way Kingston New Homes sponsored Queen of the Roads decider got underway in on the return route. It provided another classic confrontation as Silke Tulk and Kelly Mallon battled for the coveted crown with Germany’s Martina Goldenstein. Unfortunately for Martina, the opposition was at another level and the contest soon revolved around the games leading ladies. Tulk made the better start and had seventy metres on Mallon after seven with the German champion almost two down at this point. The All-Ireland champion took her first lead with a sweeping ninth, but Tulk came back with a cracking thirteenth regaining a handy advantage for the last quarter. It proved a vital cushion in the face of the expected late charge from the defending champion. That duly materialised with a ferocious fifteenth past the finish line, but Silke Tulk had enough in hand to take her fifth Queen title.
John O’Rourke is master of all he surveys at the moment. The All-Ireland intermediate champion repeated his Newtownhamilton heroics with a one bowl victory over Mark Toal to claim the Jim O’Driscoll Cup in Sunday’s opening fixture at Ballincurrig. Going for a combined 22,000 (Euro/Sterling), the Ulster champion’s best chance came early after O’Rourke’s second shot whipped right. He did not make the most of it, a slip resulting in a poor effort into the left. Both were at their best in the next exchanges before O’Rourke decisively made the no-play lines ahead of his rival an advantage that transferred to a bowl lead when Toal’s eighth caught the right. For the remainder of the score, John O’Rourke was consistency personified, matching his opponent’s best with effortless style and accuracy. After seventeen shots he was an assured Jim O’Driscoll Cup winner for the first time.
It took a while for Bol Chumann’s U18 hotshots Wayne Parkes and Hannah Sexton to show their talents in the Proto Mark Technologies Youths International Triple-Crown and a storming finish just about did enough to make then back-to-back winners. The big challenge came from the FKV German pairing Marian Jahnke and Imke Hiljerdedes who fought a nail-biting contest to the end. The Dutch pairing, Olivier Scholten and Karlijn Greven were solidly in the mix too and led after eleven to ‘O’Riordan’s’, but the German duo forged in front with two to go thanks to some super throwing from Jahnke. Hannah Sexton won back the lead for the Bol Chumann pairing with a grand second last and Wayne Parkes took the trophy for Bol Chumann by a mere metre from his German counterpart Janhke.
The 36th edition of the King and Queen festival had a starter to savour. Any Murphy-Mackle confrontation is guaranteed fireworks and the pair didn’t disappoint in their latest foray. A crucial ingredient though in this three-way King of the Roads semi shoot-out which threw off shortly after 10 on Saturday, was a Dutchman who had caught the eye on a few previous visits. When NKB, the bowling federation of The Netherlands paid a visit to The Marsh Road, Skibbereen, in 2014 to engage in a friendly international with a Bol Chumann selection, Jochem Winnink was the star performer in the boys U18 category. Although it took a while for him to show his wares on Saturday, his prowess over the closing stages was certainly remarkable. But the battle among the punters was all about David Murphy versus Thomas Mackle. A 24,000 total stake (Euro/Sterling) was testimony to the support both protagonists had at their back, and it was Mackle who had early momentum. Looking to take a sizable advantage through the no-play lines but he missed that target with his fifth. Murphy seizing his chance levelled it after a series of thrilling exchanges on the long straight and on to the ‘big turn’. The Dutch challenger, Winnink was almost a bowl out here no discredit in a score of high quality and we were yet to see his best. Up the ‘short straight’, Mackle enjoyed no luck and David Murphy forged into a fifty-metre lead in confident, determined style. Unheralded, Jochem Winnink fired three incredible shots on the tough rising terrain to come ahead of Mackle and now within metres of Murphy. Mackle missed the last bend and conceded but Winnink, with a shot to win it never got purchase and Murphy was assured in securing his final spot after a thrilling encounter.
The Armagh men were not long in finding the winner’s enclosure as their championship duo from opposite ends of the age spectrum, Eugene McVeigh and Paddy O’Neill overcame Cork’s Mick Hurley and Darren Kelly in the Charlie McCarthy Cup doubles play-off. Going for a €8,080 total, it was close until McVeigh’s savage seventh opened a big gap between them. The Ulstermen, with McVeigh showing that he will be a serious contender in Junior B at Ballyvourney in a month’s time and O’Neill, the All-Ireland novice 2 champion from Westport, a man whom we must acknowledge was runner-up to Ballydehob’s John O’Brien in that still remembered 1993 All-Ireland junior A final on the Cathedral Road, stayed in control to register a handsome two bowl victory.
For spellbinding finishes the second King of the Roads semi on Saturday would be hard to beat. The throw-off pitted reigning champion, Gary Daly against new county senior champion, Arthur McDonagh and the formidable German, Ralf Look, a previous finalist who, given his record on the road. was certainly not discounted by anybody. It was a humdinger from start to finish with a €2,400 total between the North-East men. McDonagh and Daly traded it shot for shot until the County champion missed sight at the ‘big turn’ with his eleventh leaving Daly in the ascendancy here. Look, over a bowl down, resurrected his chances with two brilliant shots first to sight at ‘the big corner’. and then with his thirteenth up the ‘short straight’. A ferocious closing sequence ensued as McDonagh closed on Daly with Look still challenging. The German beat the finish line from an impossible stand before McDonagh, just behind of Daly fired what seemed a sure winner. The reigning champion stared this challenge down and, to a great cacophony of noise, beat that massive tip to book his final spot on Sunday. There was another Armagh success in the BH Tree services trophy doubles when Aaron Hughes and Darren Gribben got the better of Cork’s Michael O’Donoghue and James O’Sullivan. For a 4,900 total, the Cork City men held command for most of this contest, a ninety-metre lead nearing the ‘green on the return route looking a sizable advantage. O’Sullivan’s fourteenth went right, and the lead was lost and, with Gribben and Hughes firing two big last shots, the trophy went northwards.
A satisfactory return for the King and Queen festival was reflected in the large turnout and the sizable influx from the Dutch and German federations. Most of all, the performances of the leading players, the sportsmanship exhibited and the often epic nature of many of the contests made for a hugely enjoyable weekend.
Last Sunday’s heavy rain at The Clubhouse necessitated in the cancellation of the clash of long-time rivals Mick Young and Chris O’Donovan in the county vintage championship. Next Sunday morning, the same venue will stage the re-scheduled fixture. In West Cork novice veteran at Kealkil, Jimmy Nyhan defeated James O’Driscoll, by a bowl, for €600. At Durrus in U14, Eoin Hurley, Dunmanway, won from David Russell. In the South-West novice D final at Fisher’s Cross on Saturday evening, Jason Harrington took the Mark O’Donovan Memorial Cup when he defeated Jack O’Driscoll by two bowls for a €1,600 total. In Mid Cork novice C at Beal na mBlath, Dylan Galvin defeated Mark Courtney and in D at Castletownkenneigh, Fionn Dwyer won from Barnes O’Callaghan. In Gaeltacht championships at Macroom in the veteran grade, local, Tim O’Riordan won from Donnacha O’Luasa of Ballyvourney and in novice C, Leap native Adrian O’Driscoll defeated Kevin Manning, Cill na Martra. At the same venue on Saturday, a novice D championship fixture saw John O’Callaghan, Terelton score a victory over Darren O’Brien, Clondrohid.
Bol Chumann’s website www.irishroadbowling.ie has had a makeover thanks to Gareth Whooley. Its renewal contains score reports, results, fixtures, an extensive photographic input from Gretta Cormican, also, an archive section that contains historical lore on some of the games great championships and tournaments that have sustained the sport down through the decades. Bol Chumann Ard Mhaca, through their P.R.O. Eugene Tierney will have regular input.
More photos to follow.. Check the photos section