Words of wisdom from Brian Cody embellished Michael Brennan’s address to Ból Chumann’s annual convention at The Munster Arms Hotel on Wednesday night last. Quoting the Kilkenny maestro who will be special guest at the West Cork Sports Star Awards night at the Celtic Ross Hotel on March 11, Mr. Brennan urged each individual in whatever capacity to ‘bring yourself to it, have an unbreakable spirit, hold confidence in your ability and in your gut instinct’. ‘Humility’ he said, ‘is vital. Egoism infects. Standards of excellence are what we should aim for. We are duty bound to leave whatever we are at in a better place than we found it’. He said this must be the way forward for our organisation. In his wide-ranging address, the chairman said ‘Annual General Meetings are important for the running of the Association because they bring about transparency between the shareholders, you and l, as well as an ability to hold those in officerships from the highest to the lowest strata of the Association accountable for their actions’. In thanking the volunteers who contribute so much he quoted a recent Sport Ireland document, ‘Volunteers are the cornerstone of sporting activities in clubs and communities nationwide, unpaid, they give freely of their time and energy and are dedicated to the development of their chosen sport. Without them sport would not exist’. With regard to the Association’s 5 year plan, he said ‘ a good number of targets have been met’. The Code of Governance and Rules of Play have been drafted, a Disputes and Disciplinary Committee has been put in place and the Association’s Child Welfare Officer, Caroline O’Leary has organised necessary courses and instituted Garda Vetting. He said team competitions were up and running, a post-primary Schools Competition will be held on March 14. Unlimited Bowling is set to return at Bantry in September. Mr. Brennan spoke of his pride in the achievements of the Irish teams at the European Championships in Germany in May. He thanked the Northern Executive for a good working relationship. They too have a dedicated team who work diligently in promoting our sport. He said the interactions between the two bodies are recognised within Sport Ireland as a Cross Border initiative. The Chairman also extended his good wishes to its longest serving member Association President, Liam O’Keefe, who is recovering from illness.
Ból Chumann’s Convention 2022 was opened by Mid Cork chairman, Martin Foley, who welcomed delegates. Following the chairman’s address, Honorary Secretary, Micheal O’Ceallachain, read his report which highlighted the many successes of the past twelve months. He said the year began with a hangover of tribunal cases which the Association were successful in defending. He said the Association had shown great resilience in the period following Covid and in ensuring a complete resumption of activities. The Hon. Sec read an expansive review of all the major events under the Association’s remit. These covered the European Championships, Governance, domestic championships, tournaments and team events. Treasurer, James O’Driscoll, presented the Association’s financial review which he said were for a fourteen-month period. The accounts were certified by Edmund Neville of Christy Naughton Accountants as complying with all regulations and were correct in detail. The Hon Treasurer said that he would like to thank Cork Local Sports Partnership, the clubs, regional officers and sponsors as 2022 had been a busy year for the Association with the European Championships a significant draw on its finances. P.R.O, Pat McCarthy, thanked the various media outlets for their coverage with special mention to Seamus O’Tuama, Gretta Cormican, and Gareth Whooley who manages the Website. Also, the reception given at County Hall by then County Mayor, Gillian Coughlan, for the European Championship teams prior to their departure for Germany was warmly appreciated. He said the sport lost a good friend with the passing of Paudie Palmer who always had encouraging words for bowl-players at various award ceremonies.
Ladies Committee chair and Association Child Safety Officer, Caroline O’Leary urged regions and clubs to ensure Garda Vetting was proceeded with in accordance with Sport Ireland directives. She expressed delight at the turnout for the various initiatives undertaken by the Lady’s Committee and concluded by asking all to continue to give support to all the talented young female bowlers we are proud to have in Bol Chumann na hEireann. Youths Officer, David Murphy thanked his regional counterparts for their diligence in ensuring under-age championships were completed on deadlines. He gave special mention to Dan McCarthy and Ted Hegarty for their work with youth at Skibbereen Showgrounds and at The Phale Road, Ballineen. Registrar, Billy McAuliffe also thanked regional officers for ensuring all affiliation details were with him in time for publication of the 2023 register of players in early January. He said it was gratifying to see numbers holding up despite the earlier cut-off date and was especially glad to report that Ladies affiliation was up 12%, Boys up 10% and an increase in girls’ youths’ grades of 23%. He said ‘it just goes to show that the likes of underage tournaments and special ladies events that were organised last year has paid dividends’.
In other business, a motion from the North-East region proposing All-Ireland’s for all grades was withdrawn pending further consideration. Dominic Creedon and Co Solicitors, on the proposal of Donal O’Mahony, seconded by Christy O’Donovan (West Cork) were unanimously nominated as the Association’s Legal Advisors. As there was no contest for officer positions all sitting were returned to serve for another twelve months. This was proposed by Jimmy Hennessy (Mid Cork) and seconded by Bernie O’Donovan (South-West). The 2023 officer board for Ból Chumann na hÉireann is as follows, President, Liam O’Keefe; Chairman, Michael Brennan; Vice Chairman, Willie Murphy; Honorary Secretary, Michéal O’Céallacháin; Treasurer, James O’Driscoll; Youths Officer, David Murphy; Registrar, Billy McAuliffe; Child Protection and Safety Officer, Caroline Smith; Fixtures Secretary, Richie Fitzgerald; P.R.O. Pat McCarthy; Safety Officer, Michael Brennan.
On the road at the weekend The Willie Whelton Cup clash at Grange and Rosscarbery’s Paddy Barry Cup decider involving Patrick Flood and Brian Wilmot garnered most attention. Bowling’s big hitters have kept punters preoccupied in recent weeks and the latest instalment in the Martin Coppinger-Arthur McDonagh rivalry again provided plenty of talking points following their epic duel at Grange on Sunday last. Coppinger broke James O’Donovan’s monopoly when he defeated the Bandon man who had won the previous three, in the tournament’s fourth hosting last August, but a harder first-round defence could hardly have been offered than a meeting with the man who has bested him in their previous two encounters. A big crowed watched as they played away from Lislevane for a €22,000 total with Coppinger the slight favourite. McDonagh had early momentum leading at the ‘stud farm’ but not by a big margin. It stayed close to the ‘school cross’ before McDonagh opened a significant sixty metre gap with powerful shots to ‘Hodnett’s’. The Fermoy man did not consolidate his lead when the opportunity presented itself and the ever-dangerous Coppinger lined one of his specials to lead again with three to go. In a gripping finale, McDonagh regained the lead with a piledriver of his own but Coppinger had the final say with a searing last shot that took him to victory.
Brian Wilmot upset the form book at Rosscarbery when scoring a last shot victory over senior graded Patrick Flood. Currently in intermediate ranks, Wilmot, similar to Flood, is on the cusp of a winning run but was not expected to overcome his youthful Fermoy rival whose barnstorming performances in recent weeks has him marked down as a likely senior champion. Although stakeless, it was competitive from the off as Wilmot, thanks to a super break with his first, raced to a bowl lead after two. Flood showed his class in the next exchanges levelling the contest after six to ‘Barry’s hill’ and then taking his first lead with a sublime seventh on the rise. Wilmot stuck to his task regaining the fore bowl before Flood surged away again with massive tenth and eleventh shots that brought him to the no-play lines a bowl ahead. Wilmot took advantage of a misplay by the score leader as they played to the ‘Quaker’s cross’, but it looked an odds-on Flood victory as he still held a valuable sixty metre lead with three to go. Perhaps youthful inexperience or a concentration lapse may be offered as an excuse but Flood’s next two were totally at variance with what he had shown earlier. Both misplayed into the right, the result was that Wilmot was back in front at a vital juncture. The Bandonian, a runner-up to James O’Donovan in the 2011 Paddy Barry Cup final, kept his composure delivering two last shots with pinpoint accuracy and they gave him a coveted victory fully deserved for his stirring last quarter rally and overall consistency.
The Nancy Hubbard Cup meeting of John Shorten and David O’Mahony at Beal na Morrive was deferred but a good contest did take place with the Mid Cork man, Shorten, taking on local, David Hubbard. For an €1,800 total, Hubbard had early advantage rising good odds after six to the ‘railing’s’. Shorten levelled it with four to go and it went shot for shot to the line. The contest was won by Shorten who had the better of the final exchanges. In the junior tournament at Ballygurteen Cian Boyle of the City defeated Ger O’Driscoll, Newcestown, last shot for €2,000. In a doubles contest at The Bog Road Birol Kat and Pat O’Donovan scored a bowl of odds win over Denis Connolly and Jeremy Downey for a €1,600 total stake.
On a busy weekend for regional championships, Dunderrow hosted a Mid Cork novice veteran clash between likely contenders, Christy Butler, a former junior standard-bearer and last year’s winner, Dan O’Donovan. Butler took the laurels in this one for a stake of €700. In the same grade at Newcestown, John Murphy defeated Pat O’Mahony. Also, in Mid-Cork championships in novice D at Newcestown, Graham Geasley won from Thomas O’Brien and Thomas Maloney defeated Cian Healy by two bowls for €400. In D at Beal na mBlath, John Madden defeated Gus Kelleher, last shot, for €200 and Dermot Desmond won from John Cohalan.
There was a cracker at Drimoleague on Saturday evening in the West Cork novice C championship. James Russell and Adrian O’Neill engaged for a €2,000 total and, after Russell recovered ground with big second and third shots, they went level to the no-play lines. O’Neill took a handy lead in the next exchanges but once again, Russell’s rebounded and a huge second last gave him cushion enough for victory. On Sunday here, Morgan Hickey defeated Colman Murray in the D championship. No less exciting was the novice veteran meeting of Barry O’Donovan and Jim Cronin at Ballinacarriga. Cronin kept this one level with a great bowl to ‘Hehir’s’ and led the score approaching ‘McSweeney’s’. O’Donovan recovered brilliantly to lead for the last shots and won the day beating the line with his final effort. Three championship scores went ahead at Togher Cross on Sunday. Here, in novice C, Danny Horgan, brother of last week’s winner, Brian, defeated Keith Jagoe and Con O’Sullivan, Kilmichael, got through against Kevin Hurley, Dunmanway. In the D championship at Togher Cross, Ian O’Sullivan defeated Richard Kingston, last shot, for €320.
In the Gaeltacht championships. Novice veteran Micheal O’Callaghan defeated Patrick Moynahin at Macroom. In the novice A three-way shoot-out at Clondrohid on Saturday, Darren Kelly defeated Freddie Scannell and Amhlaoidh Lynch. Back here in novice C, Patrick Browne defeated Tim O’Riordan. Two novice D championship scores in Cill na Martra resulted in a double for the Lucey’s’. Diarmuid defeated Ben Herlihy and Paudie got the better of Andrew Kelleher. In City junior veteran at Templemichael, Anthony Gould defeated Thomas Boyle by just short of a bowl of odds and in novice veteran here, Stephen Bowen defeated John Donnellan. North Cork’s championships are progressing apace. At Ballinagree on Saturday in novice D, Michael O’Regan defeated James Roche for an €800 total and Martin McSweeney defeated Alex Roche.