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Bowling Report - Week ending 30th June




COPPINGER POWERS TO ANOTHER FINAL.

Martin Coppinger is back in the senior championship final for the seventh time after a competent performance saw off the challenge of a game Michael Bohane at Ballygurteen on Sunday evening. Looking to atone for a narrow defeat to David Murphy in last year’s final at Ballincurrig, the Bantry native showed he will be hard to stop as he seeks a fifth title. Bohane, who had defeated Coppinger on the way to winning the championship himself in 2022, was up for the fray, best seen in a superb opening shot, but that marginal inconsistency that sometimes manifests itself was evident in the middle sector as he sought to reel in a lead that his rival had built with a thundering fourth shot. Following that fine opening effort, the Caheragh native had a golden opportunity to rise significant odds had he made sight at the first bend with his next, but a too tight right-hand play scuppered that opportunity. Coppinger who had drilled a huge second to counter an average opener, made the most of his reprieve and whipped a fourth shot from ‘Dullea’s entrance’ that has rarely been seen on the road. It propelled him to lead of close on a bowl of odds. Bohane’s eighth to ‘O’Mahony’s Avenue’ was top-class and knocked a lot of odds but Coppinger responded well with a big tenth and again retained a big advantage around ‘O’Donovan’s bend’ when matching excellent efforts of Bohane. The last quarter followed a similar pattern. Bohane tried hard in the shots past ‘Burke’s’ and on to the junior line, but Coppinger was relentless and yielded nothing as he scored out a bowl of odds win. Michael Harrington’s concession to Michael Bohane speedily facilitated this semi-final fixture and the decider now will be much looked forward to with either Gary Daly or Brian Wilmot, both seeking a first championship, providing the opposition.

O'SULLIVAN POWERS TO GLORY AT CASTLETOWN.

Tommy O’Sullivan’s comprehensive win in the county intermediate final at Castletownkinneigh on Sunday afternoon brought the curtain on a championship that failed to ignite. Although not as one-sided as the junior A decider, it was a contest that had the youthful South-West exponent flagged as a winner from a long way out. Last year’s U18 champion had no trouble transitioning to adult grades and has been strong in dominating a competition that was undervalued by too many walkovers and scores of inferior quality. Stakeless at Castletownkinneigh with O’Sullivan the overwhelming favourite, the opening phase saw the South West player deliver big shots to ‘round tower cross’ at which point he was well over a bowl of odds clear. To Callanan’s credit a good counter saw him hold O’Sullivan’s breakaway to a bowl of odds with fine efforts to ‘Pyne’s corner’ and he indeed threatened to level after the front man erred in the next exchanges. As he has done on his way to the final, O’Sullivan repelled challenges with exceptional shots and did so again when retaining his bowl of odds with a super throw to ‘forsions cross’. Callanan might have edged closer in the bowling away from the cross, but O’Sullivan closed it out with a powerful drive past the junior line. He will contest against Paul O’Reilly or Ethan Rafferty for the All-Ireland crown on Sunday July 14 at Castletown.

JUNIOR A HEADS TO MALLOW.

North-East’s Michael Murphy is county junior A champion for 2024 after a comprehensive win over Mid Cork’s Kieran Murphy in a surprisingly one-sided decider at Castletownkinneigh on Friday evening. Another big gathering descended on the All-Ireland venue in anticipation of a close quarter battle but, with the Ballyclough man the dominant force, it fizzled out far too soon. For Kieran Murphy, it was one of those evenings when virtually nothing went right. The excellent form that won him a competitive regional championship and the fine bowling of his county round wins at Whitechurch and Bantry deserted him on Friday and his North East counterpart was the big benefactor as he drove on with confidence in the vital opening phase to ‘Pynne’s corner’. There was no early indicator that things wouldn’t go his way when, Kieran Murphy lined an excellent opener, but crucially, his second unluckily slashed off bringing him hind of a good North-East second. The lead wouldn’t change again. Michael Murphy took command with a big fifth to ‘round tower cross’ and with his Mid rival getting no worthwhile run in any of his shots past the ‘old pub’, a bowl of odds came between them. Michael Murphy was assured in his deliveries doubling his margin at ‘Pynne’s’ and, although Kieran made a great attempt to the ‘black gates’, it was to no avail. Michael Murphy ‘made’ forsion’s cross’ with his fourteenth increasing his odds and soon after the contest was terminated with the North East champion in a unassailable position.

CREEDON TAKES A STEP CLOSER TO JUNIOR B TITLE.

It was back to Castletownkinneigh on Saturday for junior B county action. A preliminary round contest had Gaeltacht’s and West Cork champions in opposition, and it produced a closer finish than the early stages indicated. Conor Creedon from Baile Bhuirne would be among those fancied to go all the way in this grade and duly took advantage of Liam Hurley’s misdirected fourth to rise big odds. Creedon’s fifth was top-notch and his lead was soon heading for two bowls of odds as Hurley’s travails continued. The West Cork champion showed great resolve to halve the odds with a super eleventh to ‘Pyne’s corner’ and he was still pressing just the shot down at the right-hand turn by ‘forsion’s corner’. Hurley closed further in the shots to the finish and had the margin to forty metres for the final exchanges, but that advantage was enough for Creedon to get over the line and set up an enticing quarterfinal meeting with Carbery’s Donie Harnedy.

HEGARTY RETRIVES WIN FROM THE DEBTHS.

For the second time in weeks a South-West champion has come from the depths to score a sensational championship win at Baile Bhuirne. David Hegarty surpassed even Johnny O’Driscoll’s junior A exploits against Patrick O’Driscoll when overcoming City’s Michael John O’Brien in the last shot of a junior B championship score that seemed surely gone from him with the line in sight. Both well backed in the €18,000 total stake the contest went for, O’Brien opened with four of the finest to rise a hundred metres odds and, with blinding speed, rose bowl of odds with his next two. Hegarty closed with great bowling of his own, but O’Brien still held a sixty metres advantage and was in a good stand to score out the last line. The City champion missed that target by a fraction and Hegarty, now with a late, late reprieve, fired an unbeatable effort that gave him his only lead and victory from a pulsating encounter. East’s William O’Donnell will provide another big test in the semi-final.

STEADY SEXTON ADVANCES IN BEAL NA BLATH

The second senior ladies semi did not produce the expected fireworks at Beal na mBlath on Thursday. Hannah Sexton and Veronica O’Mahony had been well-tested in group stage scores but it was the 2022 champion, Hannah who was the dominant force at the Mid Cork venue. For a €1,720 total, Veronica won the opening exchange before Hannah took charge although not gaining big leeway. Up at ‘Bradfield’s cross’ Veronica misplayed to the right on two occasions and her Timoleague rival went a shot clear. That margin separated them at the end.

RISING STAR ROSS TAKES THE UNDER 18 TITLE.

Ross O’Brien, Gaeltacht’s rising star, has built on the promise he showed when winning county and All-Ireland U12 honours in 2022 after a similar committed campaign has seen him vanquish all comers in the current championships U14 grade. Facing a very good opponent in North Cork’s Culann Bourke who has shone in various under-age competitions earlier in the year, Ross got away with a few but had, overall, the ability and assurance to stay in front when his early advantage was threatened. Played on Tuesday evening on the inward Castletownkinneigh route from ‘Forsion’s cross’, O’Brien’s perfectly delivered third to the ‘black gate’ rose a bowl of odds. Bourke, whose third broke unkindly, tried hard in the shots to ‘O’Leary’s’ but could not make inroads. Two great bowls from Bourke down to ‘Kinneigh tower’ might have knocked odds but O’Brien’s responses had power and got enough traction to come close. Still the odds were reduced to fifty metres with four to go and, crucially, here, O’Brien needed to find a big one hold that margin and did with a super thirteenth. It was enough for a big last shot victory. Youth’s officer, David Murphy, presented the Finbarr Murphy Cup to the new champion. The Ulster champion is Jack O’Reilly who is current U12 All-Ireland winner having defeated Cork’s Eoghan Hickey at Ballincurrig last year. Jack will bring confidence to Castletownkinneigh and provide a good test for Clondrohid’s best.

BACK TO BACK UNDER 18 WINS FOR ELLEN.

This was followed on Wednesday by the girl’s U18 final and here, Ellen Sexton just about preserved her long unbeaten record when edging a game Eamma Hurley in the last shots of a thrilling decider. Emma, with the defence of her U16 crown still on her agenda for this year, was giving a few years in experience in the elder grade to the current champion but came very close to causing and upset. It was a shot for the shot duel on the inward Castletown route although it wasn’t until the seventh exchange that Emma took her first lead. No more than a few metres separated them in the subsequent exchanges. Emma forged into thirty metre lead with three to go but Ellen battle back again, led for the second last and retained her title with a splendid final effort over the line.

THE FOOTBALL ACE THROUGH TO INTERMEDIATE SEMI FINAL.

Elsewhere in women’s championship a group A intermediate contest at Dunderrow was a humdinger. Juliett Murphy and Lisa Hegarty were the combatants for a €940 total, and it was Lyre lady Lisa who stormed to a bowl lead with four excellent openers. Juliette turned this one around with a brilliant sequence to ‘Nyhan’s lane’ and, having taken a first-time lead beyond half-way, continued in similar vein to win by a shot.

CASTLETOWN ALL READY FOR ALL-IRELANDS.

With Castletownkinneigh’s finals now just a week away and almost all champions declared for the six finals down for decision, the countdown for bowling’s second All-Ireland series on August Bank Holiday weekend at Eglish, Co. Tyrone, is on with inter-regionals ongoing for the seven titles up for grabs on that weekend. The adult grades, senior men, intermediate women, junior B and veteran men are the highlights while at under-age boys and girls U16 and boys U12 generate their own interest. A well-contest quarterfinal at Kilcorney on Wednesday had Darcey O’Brien, sister of U14 champion, Ross, vying with Mid Cork’s Lelia Foley for an U16 semi-final spot. Following an even enough contest for much of the way, Darcey emerged with a two-bowl win and will have either West’s Emma Hurley or East’s champion in her sights in the semi-final.

City’s Declan O’Leary is through to the semi-final round of the county novice veteran championship after defeating North-East’s John O’Leary for a €400 total. South-West’s Joe Tyner is next up for Declan.

Regional championships continue apace. Darren Cronin is the toast of Bantry after qualifying for the novice C final. Darren bowled a good score at Kealkil to deny Dunmanway’s Kieran McKenna, who had racked up a fine series of wins to the last four. It was a last shot win for Cronin for a €2,100 total. In the second West Cork novice C semi-final at Togher Cross, Drinagh’s Daniel Hayes won from Eoin Hurley, Kilronan, almost a bowl, for €1,100. In novice E at Durrus, Jamie Walsh defeated Paddy McCarthy, last shot, for €500. In the same grade at The Clubhouse, Jeremy Hurley won from Alan Tringle and Jack Forbes defeated Donal Hayes. Also in West Cork, a junior ladies shoot-out at Ballinacarriga saw Kate Murray edge out Shauna Kehily while in the same grade at Bantry, Emer O’Connell won a good duel with Clara O’Driscoll.

U16 finals were played out in the South-West division. Lyre was the venue for a good contest between Laura Sexton and Grace Ahern where Laura’s late burst from the ‘school’ onward sees her through to the county rounds. Rory Twohig won from Cathal O’Donovan in the boys section. In the South-West division, Ballygurteen’s Gearoid McCarthy bowled a fine score at Timoleague where he scored a last shot win over Shane Nugent to qualify for the regional novice B final. The stake at issue was €1,280. In D at Grange, Joe Williamson defeated Matthew O’Driscoll.

A Mid-Cork novice B semi-final at Templemartin held plenty of interest. Kevin O’Crualaoi and Conor O’Donovan were the protagonists for a €2,800 total and it was O’Crualaoi who prevailed in a tense last shot shoot-out. In scores at Jagoes Mills, Eoin O’Donovan defeated Paul O’Brien, last shot, for €2,000 and Derek Murphy defeated Tadg O’Driscoll for the same stake. In a novice D quarterfinal at Ballinacurra, Upton, Mark Coleman, excelled in a win over Barry Murphy for a €2,300 total. In Mid Cork novice at Ballinacurra, Damien Healy defeated Joe Lynch.

In the Gaeltacht U16 final at Baile Bhuirne on Monday a cracking contest saw Darcey O’Brien emerge the winner from Orla Murphy. U14 champion, Ross O’Brien made a seamless transition to the 28 scoring a hard-earned U16 regional semi-final win over Aodh Lynch on the Coolea road. In a novice A quarterfinal at Inchigeela Eoin Kelly defeated Tim Kelleher, one bowl, for €900. In a return here, Cillian Kelleher defeated Cathal Creedon, by a bowl, for €1,140.

In the North Cork U16 final at Ballinagree was a three-way cracker. Jena Healy just shaded it from Chloe Hubbard with a fast-improving Mia Hubbard a close third. In novice C, U18 champion, Shane Dennehy advanced with victory over Michael Horgan also at Kilcorney. A cracking novice A semi-final unfolded at Ballinagree on Wednesday when Simon O’Connell and Paul O’Rourke took issue. For a €1,140 total, O’Rourke’s perseverance looked to have paid when he took a first lead with three to go, but long-time leader, O’Connell would not be denied and came again to win in the last shot. In the North Cork junior C championship at Berrings on Friday, Kevin Manning came good with a bowl of odds win over Olan Noonan for a €1,300. Manning rose his winning odds at ‘the graveyard point’. On Wednesday at Beal na Morrive in novice C, Billy Healy defeated Dan O’Regan and at Kilcorney, D D Dorgan defeated Will Harrington.

In club action, Shane Collins defeated Richard O’Brien in the Whitechurch junior B tournament on Wednesday while further west at Durrus, festival scores included a doubles win for Shane McCarthy and Timmie O’Sullivan.

BERNARD ALLEN R.I.P.

The death of Bernard Allen T. D. was heard with regret within bowling circles. Bernard was a steadfast supporter of bowling in Ireland all his adult life. He came from a traditional stronghold of bowling on Cork’s northside with family connections to some of the game’s greatest in the early years of Bol Chumann. His uncle, Shamie Allen won the senior championship of 1958 defeating no less a luminary than Mick Barry in a great final at Tinker’s cross. Bernard, through his involvement with Sport Ireland provided advice, support and encouragement to bowling administrators, Susan Greene and James O’Driscoll, in particular, at crucial times and rightfully stands shoulder to shoulder with a group of people who have contributed exceptional service. He was inducted into bowling’s Hall of Fame in 2014 in acknowledgement of his work with the Association. He was recognised as one who made Bol Chumann a more consistent and tangible organisation in terms of policy and resource allocation. Bernard understood bowling and followed its various goings on. From his holiday base in Schull, he was a regular attendee at presentation nights at The West Cork Hotel where he mingled with award winners and imparted insights. His passing is deeply regretted. Bol Chumann extends its sympathies to Marie, to Lorraine, Audrey and Deirdre and extended families. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis

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