The John Cronin Cup honours bowling’s former fixtures secretary from Churchtown South whose exceptional work as an administrator over many years has helped the games transition into the modern era. The East Cork/West Waterford division Bol Chumann na hEireann concluded a special junior A tournament for the imposing trophy with the final on Sunday last on the road adjacent to John’s homeplace in Churchtown South and it was one of East Cork’s leading lights, P. J. Cooney who emerged the winner from another who in decades past scaled the heights in senior ranks, John Shorten of Kilmurray. A stakeless contest had Cooney in the ascendancy at all points having laid down an initial marker by beating a big first shot of Shorten’s. The Mid Cork man’s third and fourth got little purchase and Cooney was away to a bowl lead after five. It was an advantage Cooney built on with two huge shots as they played to ‘Benskin’s’. Despite Shorten’s best efforts, Cooney lead stretched out to two bowls after eleven shots. It was an impressive showing overall from the 2003 senior championship runner-up and, almost twenty years on, one that indicates he will have plenty to offer in the forthcoming junior A championship. P. J. Cooney becomes the first holder of the John Cronin Cup.
Club tournaments provided exciting fare too at Lyre and Bauravilla. A junior B shoot-out at Lyre saw Drinagh’s John Young keep a winning run intact with a hard-earned victory over new South-West entrant, Denis O’Sullivan. This was going O’Sullivan’s way in the early stages as big fourth and fifth shots yielded a sixty-metre lead. Young closed the gap and by ‘Crowley’s entrance’ it was a level contest. The bowling across the double bends and up to ‘McCarthy’s’ saw Young forge in front with two excellent deliveries and, when he followed up with another brace from the top drawer, a hundred metres separated the tips in his favour. The Drinagh man powered home a big fore bowl winner ensuring a nice payday for his supporters in the €4,800 total stake. Back the road here, Ger Hegarty of the host club made a winning return when he defeated Denis O’Sullivan (Sen), last shot, for €1,000.
The John Joe Murphy Cup in down to the decider after a fifteen-shot thriller at Bauravilla on Saturday. James Nagle and Mick Hurley served up a semi-final to savour for a combined €3,800 with the Ross man emerging with a ten-metre victory from a score that hardly deserved to have a loser. Hurley, from Conna, but with roots firmly set in the Togher Cross, Dunmanway area, made his only error with a misplaced second shot and he was close to a bowl adrift after Nagle’s two piledrivers to ‘Robin’s cross’. His response was instant as a magnificent fifth around the ‘netting’ put him in front for the first time and he matched his Ross rival in eight quality shots to the point known as ‘the rock’. When Nagle hit two of the best to the ‘bridge wall’ it looked a bowl in the making again but Hurley found new reserves firing the shot of the day from blind sight at this juncture. That splendidly executed twelfth had them on level tips with three to go and the standard never faltered in an exciting closing sequence. Nagle showed great resolve in beating big tips to regain the lead and held his nerve for the last shots too passing Hurley’s formidable mark for a hard-won victory. Next up is a joust with Drinagh’s, John Young, with April 10 provisionally pencilled in as Murphy Cup final day. In further tournament action, Carbery’s Donal Crowley won a cracking three-way at Beal na mBlath from Gaeltacht’s former junior A champion, Patrick Moynahin and South West’s Stephen O’Connell. For an €1,200 total, this one went to the wire with all three in contention for the last shots. At Grange a junior B three-way went the way of Shannonvale’s Ger Connolly. Ger O’Driscoll and Muiris Buttimer provided the opposition, and it was Newcestown’s O’Driscoll who came closest to the South-West man. The stake at issue amounted to €7,800.
The 2022 Lowney’s Jewellers sponsored womens senior championship got underway at Drinagh on Sunday morning with a Group A meeting of Maria Nagle and Claire O’Sullivan. For Kealkil contender, Claire, it was somewhat of a comedown as her barnstorming performance at the previous week’s ‘Dowtcha Boy’ festival did not transfer to the championship arena. Rosscarbery’s Maria made it a good weekend for the Nagle clan with a trap-to-line victory from a score in which she set out her stall early. A magnificent opener down to ‘Hurley’s’ was followed by a super second shot after which she held a bowl lead. Claire battled bravely in the shots to ‘the church’ and on to the ‘rectory gates’, but her Ross rival was in unyielding mode and the bowl of odds stayed between them. Maria’s well-judged effort to ‘the blacksticks’ doubled her lead and she stayed in control to the end. Claire now has a must win encounter with Meghan Collins at Bauravilla as she attempts to keep her championship hopes on track.
The South-West division got its 2022 championship season underway at the weekend. Ballygurteen hosted the junior A shoot-out between youthful contenders Wayne Parkes and Tom O’Sullivan. On current form, Parkes would undoubtedly be among an elite list of junior A practitioners, and he duly got over his first championship hurdle but was given a searching test by O’Sullivan who is playing in adult grades for the first time. It was the 2020 U16 All-Ireland winner who led for the first five before Parkes, with a big cast to ‘Oakmount avenue’, assumed control. A strong finish by Parkes put him through to a semi-final meeting with Alex O’Donovan. Parkes was also victorious on the previous day defeating Timmy McDonagh by a bowl at North-East venue, Corrin. The stake at issue here was €3,020. In the South-West novice B championship at Shannonvale, former Carbery man, Enda Conneally won his first-round duel with Michael Crean by a bowl of odds for €800 and in the novice veteran grade at The Pike, local, Timmie Hennessy, defeated Gerry Connolly. In the South-West novice C championship at Grange, Darren Harrington defeated Ronan Coakley.
In West Cork championships there was an U18 double for the Horgan brothers at Drimoleague. The versatile Brian continued his good form from last year’s championship with four magnificent opening shots and these were instrumental in setting up his victory over a game Killian O’Brien. In the return Danny Horgan got the better of Cian Young. The 2021 novice B winner, Sean O’Leary from Whiddy is by regulation not graded up and has begun his defence on a winning note. Facing the formidable Peter Kelly on The Clubhouse on Sunday morning, O’Leary had to pull out all the stops in a hard-earned last shot win. Also, at The Clubhouse in West Cork novice C, Barry O’Donovan defeated Joe McCarthy, last shot, for €400. In novice B at Kealkil another of the O’Leary clan, Connie, was in action but this time there was no joy as Vincent Healy emerged the victor from a good contest played for an €1,100 total.
In novice D at Ardcahan, Stephen O’Donovan won from Sean Calnan. The 2021 West Cork novice veteran championship is still to be completed. At Ardcahan on Saturday, Martin O’Donovan won from Mike McCarthy. O’Donovan plays Connie Connolly in that decider at Ballinacarriga.
The Mid Cork division had a busy weekend of novice C and D championship scores with Newcestown hosting no less than six. In the first of these on Saturday, Damien Healy, a county novice 2 runner-up of a few years back, got his current novice D campaign off to a winning start with a last shot victory over Adrian Wilmot. They played for a total of €700. In the same grade Kieran Kelly of Kinsale won from Sean Coughlan, Templemartin, also last shot, for €440 and Michael Hickey defeated Eoin O’Leary by a bowl. On Sunday here in novice C, Tim Allen defeated Ger O’Leary, last shot, for €1,100 and Michael Waugh defeated Michael Hickey by a bowl for €2,400. In the novice D championship at Newcestown, John Paul O’Driscoll defeated Raymond O’Neill, last shot, for €600. At Dunderrow in novice D, Jamie Crowley defeated Jim O’Neill by a bowl for €200.
At Ballinacurra, Upton, in novice D, two newcomers Sean Galvin, Templemartin and Paudie Keohane, Kileady, had a good battle with Galvin taking it in the last shot. On Sunday here, in novice D, Batty Foley defeated Pat O’Mahony, (Kinsale) and in novice C, James O’Sullivan came from a bowl down to defeat Denis O’Driscoll. In Mid Cork novice C championship on St. Patrick’s Day, Barry Coughlan had a good win from the youthful, Conor O’Donovan of Belgooly while on the same day at Ballinacurra, Upton in the D championship, Shane Desmond defeated Paul Kelleher.
In the Gaeltacht championship a big junior B clash at Ballyvourney had local, Conor Creedon and Macroom’s Frank Kiely in opposition. Going for a total of €1,400 with Kiely the punter’s favourite, it was a competitive joust with Creedon’s strong finish getting him home a winner by almost a bowl. There was defeat for Creedon in a return score here, as he went down to Denis O’Sullivan, (SW), for a €2,000 total. In Gaeltacht’s novice C championship in Clondrohid Connie O’Callaghan got the better of former Carbery campaigner, Flor Carbery. At Macroom in novice C, Aaron Murphy defeated Shane Buttimer.
The Bol Fada festival at Keady/Tassagh is the next major north-south event on the bowling calendar. A full programme is in place for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend with the Joe McVeigh Cup again the headline event. Mick Nugent has forwarded a comprehensive ‘clar’ which will be published in full closer to Easter. The McVeigh Cup has the following enticing line-up for Saturday’s semi-finals. Thomas Mackle v Bryan O’Reilly or Colm Rafferty; David Murphy v Arthur McDonagh.