Drama aplenty at Ballincurrig as Patrick Flood and John Creedon were crowned intermediate and Junior A county champions for 2022. The age-gap was wide as Flood and Bantry’s Donal O’Riordan played away in Sunday’s intermediate decider for a combined €8,000 total. Donal O’Riordan won the All-Ireland U14 in 1988, the victor on the previous day, John Creedon, won U16, in that year also, so it was a celebration of their longevity in the game that, almost four decades on, both men can command such a sizable following and a mastery of the game to play their part in two hugely entertaining finals. O’Riordan will bemoan the lost chances afforded him by his youthful exponent in the early stages of their contest. After two massive opening shots that yielded a two-hundred metre lead, the Bantry man did not make the no-play lines in six allowing Flood to keep it level. Flood went a bowl up but O’Riordan’s thirteenth to sight at the ‘big turn’ brought it level again and they went shot for shot to the line. The bowling paled against Saturday’s junior decider, but it stayed a riveting encounter as twenty metres separated them for the last shots, Flood in front. The North-East man won that vital exchange to claim his first adult county having excelled at under-age winning national honours in U14 in 2017. Armagh’s commanding goalkeeper, Ethan Rafferty, will not now have an All-Ireland football semi-final to contend with on the Saturday previous to his showdown with Flood at Ballincurrig on All-Ireland weekend July 9th & 10th.
The junior A final on Saturday was on a knife-edge four shots from home. Tim McDonagh (Jun) had followed a piledriver up the short straight from John Creedon to maintain a lead he held from the start and a last shot showdown was imminent when, with extraordinary swiftness, the contest swung in the Ballyvourney man’s favour. The defiant Gaeltacht champion came again with a super thirteenth to the point known as ‘the sycamores’ and that was the one that broke the challenge of his youthful rival from Fermoy. In total contrast to what had come before, McDonagh hit two in succession of the short variety to fall a bowl of odds behind and, when Creedon hit a superb fifteenth to the last bend, the junior A championship for 2022 was going to the Gaeltacht division. It was a cracking contest from the off. Playing away from the re-adjusted start line for a combined €4,500, McDonagh had the early momentum rising an eighty-metre lead after a super third to the ‘green’. Creedon negated that with a nicely pitched fourth and seemed sure to take the lead with a ‘bullet-like’ fifth to the ‘no-play lines’. McDonagh rose to that challenge and held the fore bowl with a given reply. The North-East champion stayed in front in all the shots on the long straight and was a shade unlucky not to make sight at the ‘big turn’ with his tenth. Creedon never left him out of sight and those decades of experience in the higher ranks told as he raised his game to new levels over the last quarter. John Creedon will play James Oliver for the All-Ireland junior A championship on Saturday July 9 at 1.30pm. Oliver, an All-Ireland intermediate winner in 2014, defeated last year’s junior B champion, Eugene McVeigh, in the Ulster junior A final at Eglish on Saturday.
Junior B is Darragh Dempsey’s focus now after his unexpected loss to Joshua Murphy in U18 and he took an important first step to county honours with a last shot win over Gaeltacht’s Eoin O’Riordan in the quarterfinal round at Bantry on Tuesday. As is the case on most occasions, the favourite’s mantle surrounds him, as they played away for a €500 total. The Carbery champion was given a good test by the Macroom man who brought the contest to the last shot. City’s Anthony Gould another in the twilight years but with senior experience staked his claim with a preliminary win over East Cork’s Michael Wall at Glenabo on Saturday evening Next up is a quarterfinal set-to at Newcestown with either John Young or Peter Murray, the West Cork finalists. Going well too in junior B is Mid Cork’s Ger O’Driscoll. Having got over London’s Padraigh Nugent in a preliminary round contest at Lyre, he surmounted a formidable obstacle in North Cork’s Mark Burke at Ballyvourney on Sunday. For a €5,100 stake the Newcestown man won a tense battle in the last shot. A semi-final shoot-out with Darragh Dempsey will now take place at The Clubhouse this week.
The girls U18 county decider is one to set the pulses racing. Vying here are European Champion, Rachel Kingston, still on a roll after her success in Germany and ever the improving Carbery champion, Natalie Dempsey from Skibbereen. Natalie got through a testing semi-final with Gaeltacht’s Ciara Creedon at The Clubhouse on Friday throwing the vital shots from ‘Clon cross’ onward. Rachel and Natalie play-off at Lyre on Monday July 4th.
The boy’s U18 title race is no less interesting. After his heroics in eliminating Darragh Dempsey, Mid Cork’s champion, Joshua Murphy got no respite when he came up against a Gaeltacht champion who may have been unheralded but is now certainly no longer under the radar. From the townland of Coolcaum near Kilnamartyra, Killian Kelleher, astounded a few when coming close to sight at ‘O’Brien’s corner’ at The Clubhouse in three majestic opening shots. Although a bowl down, Murphy stayed gamely in the hunt, but Kelleher unleashed a few more of the highest order and the Mid Cork champions hopes faded before the finish. The second semi at Jagoe’s Mills on Sunday morning saw North East’s Patrick O’Donnell come in ahead of West Cork’s highly rated Martin Deane. Killian Kelleher and Patrick O’Donnell will contest for the U18 county at Ballincurrig. The U14 boy’s county rounds are hotting up and a result of significance came at Clondrohid on Wednesday last when Carbery’s champion, Tom McCarthy won by a metre from the championship favourite, Ben Cooney, East Cork’s rising star from Dungourney. The boys produced a cracking contest with Ben showing his class in super shots to ‘Tierbeg cross’ and again at the ‘Bell Inn’. Tom did well to stay within a bowl of odds, but it looked like going Cooney’s way when he still held a big lead at ‘Kelly’s wall’. A magnificent cast from the Skibb youth knocked considerable odds and then, from hind bowl, came a last shot that yielded a shock win.
On to Timoleague on Sunday last for the semi-final shoot-out with West Cork fine representative, Daniel O’Sullivan from Knockduff. Eliminating the favourite is no guarantee of success in the next round as Tom McCarthy found. An excellent set-to again saw Daniel recover from two poor throws approaching the half-way point to book a final spot with a superb last shot that touched and beat the finish line after Tom had come very close. Daniel’s final opponent is North Cork’s Jonathan O’Callaghan after he defeated Gaeltacht’s Ross O’Brien in their semi at Castletownkenneigh.
Chloe O’Halloran joins Denise Murphy and Juliette Murphy in the semi-final draw as the women’s intermediate title race narrows down. At Clondrohid on Tuesday, Chloe defeated European Championship participant, Ciara Buckley by a bowl of odds. Hannah Cronin and Gretta Cormican play the last of the quarterfinals this week.
South-West’s junior C championship is a best of three between David Hegarty and Conor O’Sullivan. Timoleague are hosts and the first on Tuesday evening was a close affair for much of the way. A strong finish by Hegarty yielded a bowl of odds victory making their next set-to a must win for O’Sullivan. They played for a total of €1,280. Fisher’s Cross were hosts for the South-West novice A final on Wednesday. Clon’s John O’Driscoll will be a strong contender in the county rounds after a two-bowl win over Ivan Buchannon. Earlier round-robin scores had eliminated John Connolly while Buchannon was in pole position topping the group. O’Driscoll’s power on the wide road gave good leeway approaching ‘Galley cross’ and it eventually transferred to a two-bowl win. They played for a total of €2,200. In novice D South-West, P J Hegarty came with a late surge to deny Toss Ahern at Lyre on Monday week.
Drinagh’s Emma Hurley is West Cork U16 champion after a fine decider with Ballinacarriga’s Niamh O’Connell at Drimoleague. Emma got he rover the first hurdle in her county final bid when getting the better of Connaught’s Amy Forde in a preliminary round at Templemartin. There was no joy for Emma’s brother, Eoin, in the boys U16 championship. The Drinagh Rangers hotshot lost out to a very determined Sean Cronin in the semi-final at Kealkil. In a quarterfinal here, Brian O’Sullivan won from Finian Hurley. In an eagerly awaited novice C semi-final at The Clubhouse on Wednesday, Johnny Collins won by bowl from Joseph O’Mahony for a €3,000 total. Schull man, O’Mahony went a bowl down after a misplay at ‘Dineen’s lane’ but recovered to level by ‘O’Riordan’s’. Collins had the better of the last quarter. John Murphy, Togher Cross, or Con Collins, Kealkil, will provide Johnny’s opposition in the decider also fixed for The Clubhouse. Drimoleague’s Con McCarthy won the section B veteran final at Bantry on Monday week. That estimable Durrus man, Donal O’Mahony was in the opposing camp and a good contest ensued. For a €1,500, it went to a last shot before McCarthy prevailed. In the overall West Cork novice veteran final Con will play Kealkil’s Patsy O’Sullivan at Ballinacarriga.
The Mid Cork novice A final will be contested by John A Murphy and Paul Walsh after their semi-final victories at Ballinacurra, Upton and Dunderrow on Friday last. Templemartin, man, Murphy had a big bowl of odds to spare on Kinsale namesake, Paul Murphy at Ballinacurra, while Walsh got the better of 2020 county champion, Eoin O’Donovan at Dunderrow. Keeping the Belgooly O’Donovan flag flying is the elder Dan who advanced in the Mid Cork novice C championship with victory over Donal Desmond at Beal na mBlath. In a big novice C engagement at Templemartin, Dermot Crowley got the better of Sean Nyhan, last shot, for €2,260.