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Bowling Report - Week ending 31st March




MACKLE MAGIC LIGHTS UP BOL FADA ACTION AS ULSTER MAKE HOME ADVANTAGE COUNT

Thomas Mackle retained his grip on the Joe McVeigh Cup with a comprehensive two bowl victory over Aidan Murphy at Keady-Tassagh on Sunday evening last. The favourite on home territory, Mackle gained leeway with his second and third shots and wasn’t headed at any point. Murphy had done well to come within metres of a big Mackle opener but didn’t get traction on his next two. A big chance to close the gap came in the shots to ‘Twynam’s corner’, but the Corkman did not capitalise when the cup holder’s fourth crossed left. He was now a bowl of odds adrift. To his credit, Murphy fired excellent sixth and seventh shots to knock odds. Mackle was bowling with confidence and a cracking drive on to ‘McGeown’s height’s’ increased his margin to almost two bowls. Murphy tried again with a big eleventh cast only for Mackle to follow in like vein. The northerner’s consistency ensured there would be no way back for Murphy on this occasion.

When the action resumed on Sunday morning, the final day of the 2024 Bol Fada festival, the Cork camp were badly in need of a win. Tasked with reversing a losing sequence was All-Ireland intermediate champion and Player of the Year, Brian Wilmot, a reliable performer who has more than held his own against northern opposition in past encounters. On the opposing side though was Paul O’Reilly, one of Ulster’s most durable campaigners, also a previous All-Ireland intermediate winner and well-remembered for hitting sight at ‘darkwood’ turn, Derrinasafa, in a record equalling eight shots on his way to junior A glory in 2011. They had a riveting battle for a combined €15,000. Wilmot made a great start leading by eighty metres after four but was reeled in by O’Reilly thanks to a fine touch with his sixth. O’Reilly’s majestic drive to the ‘creamery corner’ yielded rich dividends as he led then by almost a bowl of odds. Wilmot played two brilliant shots to ‘McCann’s lane’ to level the contest once more but it was not to be for the Bandon native as his northern rival rallied again with a huge cast to ‘Murphy’s wall’. This was decisive for O’Reilly as he rose a bowl of odds at a crucial point. His win made it five on the trot for the home side.

It took the outstanding combination of Shane Crowley and Ciara Buckley to briefly break the Ulster stranglehold. In Sunday’s second score, the Carbery/North Cork duo took on Anthony McVeigh and current intermediate champion, Aoife Trainor, and, having built a commanding lead, survived a sensational comeback charge to take a last shot victory. After a close quarter opening phase, Ciara’s big cast to ‘McCann’s’ gave the Cork duo their first lead. Splendid play from Shane and Ciara to the ‘creamery corner’ put them almost out of sight a full two bowls up but from here, Aoife showed her battling qualities and with Anthony McVeigh coming into the picture, the big lead was gradually eroded. Aoife’s thundering drive to the ‘piggeries’ cut the lead to fifty metres and a grandstand finish loomed. When Ciara missed the finish line it was down the McVeigh and Crowley for the last shots. The Cork youth held his nerve to win that final exchange and give the Cork punters a much-needed respite. They played for a total of €5,500.

Having been on the receiving end of a seven-two hammering at the 2023 Bol Fada festival, Cork bowlers began Saturday’s programme well on the road to avenging that overall result. The day’s bowling would prove a game-changer. Three up from Friday, Armagh gained quick retribution winning all four on the Easter Saturday programme. Gavin Twohig has, over a long career, enjoyed remarkable success in northern territory with a string of wins up to as recent as February 3rd at Madden that have included All-Ireland intermediate victories on two occasions, making him one of the most reliable of Cork campaigners on weekends such as Bol Fada. The 2024 hosting proved the exception. Pete Carr was ready and waiting and dominated their opening score clash on Saturday last. A super third shot put him eighty metres clear and he looked to take complete control with a cracking effort to the point knowns as ‘the piggeries farm’. Twohig, to his credit, kept it in the melting pot when he beat that with a wonderful cast of his own. Consistency was Carr’s hallmark and he eventually rose the bowl of odds at ‘McCann’s corner’. Twohig kept battling and knocked the shot by ‘Murphy’s sheds’, but his late charge was halted when he failed to make ‘the bridge’ and Carr ran out a deserving bowl of odds winner. The stakemoney amounted to 30,000 (euro-sterling). The youthful Eugene McVeigh, a participant at the recent ‘Dowtcha Boy’ then took another from that Marsh Road weekend, Eamonn Bowen, in the days second score on Saturday. Bowen, having made a slack start, did well to whittle McVeigh’s early bowl of odds lead to ten metres with two excellent deliveries away from ‘Murphy’s’. It was as good as it got for the Carrignavar man as his Tyrone rival quickly, albeit a shade fortunately, restored his shot advantage with a big touch at ‘the creamery’. Bowen battled on and succeeded in bringing the odds under the bowl, but it was McVeigh who took the spoils and the €6,000 total stake. Saturday’s feature had senior men, Colm Rafferty and Gary Daly renewing acquaintance. Daly’s recent run of good form indicated a great opportunity to turn the tables on Rafferty who had bested him by the narrowest of margins in their most recent encounters. It was not to be as, for a €20,000 stake, Rafferty dominated almost from the off. A big bowl of odds separated them at the half-way point and the Armagh man had doubled his lead by the finish line. The final nail on Saturday came when All-Ireland junior B champion, Jake Cullen got the better of Cork’s Noel O’Donovan for a €5,000 stake. O’Donovan had been on the cusp of a good run down here but found Cullen at the peak of his powers. The northerner won by almost two to complete a clean sweep for his county men on Saturday.

A late winning surge by Eoghan Hickey and Ellen Sexton got the visitors off to the ideal start early on Good Friday. Michaela Greene and Jack O’Reilly, Ulster U18 and U12 champions had the upper hand on their Cork counterparts for much of the weekend’s opening score but succumbed at the end after a combination of errors on their part and a strong finish by their rivals saw the victory go southwards. Playing with confidence, the Greene/O’Reilly partnership started in a blaze rising a bowl and thirty metres with their opening four. Sexton/Hickey reduced the arrears to seventy metres after eight, but Armagh were away again restoring their earlier advantage in the next exchanges. Cork closed for the second time and then took a sensational lead when a couple of uncharacteristic errors by their northern rivals were pounced on. Sexton/Hickey held on for a last shot win. It would be the start of a good innings for the visitors. Wayne Parkes and Mark Toal then enjoined for an €18,000 total and it was a score filled with twists and turns as big leads were squandered by costly mistakes. Toal was first away rising the bones of a bowl of odds with his opening two only for Parkes to level and lead with two extraordinary efforts to the ‘Esso sign’. A mistake then and Toal was back in front with a great shot to the ‘cap bowl’ but the northerner did not maintain his momentum and Parkes, from what looked like a losing position with four to go, reclaimed the front with a powerful third last. This time he held it to give the Cork camp a handsome victory. Shane Collins and Barry O’Reilly renewed rivalry in the last of Good Friday’s scores. O’Reilly has been the bane of many a worthy Cork challenger in recent years and his All-Ireland junior C victory at Killea last September confirmed him as a hard-beaten opponent. Mallow’s Shane Collins has, since his defeat to O’Reilly in that championship, been on the up and up winning a host of scores across the county and was well set to atone for his Waterford defeat. He did so in comprehensive fashion. Hitting the ground running, Collins rose odds from the off. His opening four were exemplary and O’Reilly, not having one of his better days, found himself two bowls adrift at that early stage. Collins was relentless and the odds continued to mount before matters were terminated with the Cork junior C champion in complete control. They played for a €20,000 total.

MANY EXCITING FINISHES TO SOUTH WEST/CARBERY FUND-RAISER.

The Carbery-South/West inter-regional fund-raisers took centre stage at Fisher’s Cross where fourteen scores were played over four days. The scenic South-West venue was the perfect setting and while all on the scheduled list did not take place, there were willing volunteers to fill the void. The road itself provided a fine test with the narrower stretches to ‘Footman’s’ requiring pinpoint accuracy while power of delivery was essential on the wider open course towards ‘Galley cross’ and the Red Strand. A feature of many scores was the change of fortunes as big leads were whittled away and many exciting finishes resulted. The opening score was typical as Shane Nugent for South West and David Minihane, Carbery, engaged in a tremendous joust. Nugent looked to rise a two-bowl lead after five to the ‘main road’, but Minihane kept it to a shot and then powered in front with a series of excellent efforts to the last bend. Eighty metres behind for the last shots, Nugent still prevailed when his final cast ran a prodigious distance. It was a mark the Carbery man missed by metres. A feature too was the huge contribution made by players from West, Mid and Gaeltacht regions. Sunday’s main score was a doubles involving Ger O’Driscoll and Joe Madden (Mid Cork) and Gaeltacht cousins, Conor and Cathal Creedon. Going for a €5,200 total, Mid had an early bowl of odds but lost it quickly and both O’Driscoll and Conor Creedon hit big fifth shots to ensure parity heading on the main road. The Mid Cork duo regained commanding odds in the shots to ‘Nagle’s’ and held on to win in the last shot. There was another win for the Mid Cork men in the return when Colm O’Regan who starred in Jagoe’s Mills team win at Castletownkenneigh on the previous Sunday, came from arrears to deny Jamie McCarthy in an exciting tussle that carried a €4,200 total stake. A shot for shot duel went level at the no-play lines after both squandered chances. O’Regan won it in the last shot. Also here, Dylan O’Driscoll won two scores, coming from a bowl down to deny Chris Murray on Good Friday and combining with Johnny O’Driscoll to for a doubles victory over Donie Harnedy and John A Murphy on Saturday. There were wins for the Harrington’s Eric, Darren and Mickey on Easter Monday and in the days feature an all South-West clash of Eoin McCarthy and John Connolly it was the Ballineen man McCarthy who took a two bowl lead to the ‘main road’. For a €4,100 total it was cushion enough for victory. All results are in the Carbery section.

In championship action in West Cork, Brian Murphy won from Jamie McCarthy in the boys U14 grade at Ardcahan. In the U18 championship at Togher Cross, Sean Cronin won from Conor McCarthy.

The Mid Cork championship progressed with novice D grade scores at Newcestown where the ever improving Colm O’Regan defeated Sean Galvin by two for €1,000 and Paudie Keohane won from Bernard O’Callaghan, last shot, for €1,100. At the same venue on Monday, in club action, county novice C champion, David Desmond overcame Dunmanway’s Peter Kelly, last shot, for €2,400 and in a return here, Colm O’Regan, who also won at Fisher’s Cross at the weekend, scored another win defeating Johnny Kelly, by a bowl, for €2,200.

In other club action a good doubles contest at Beal na Morrive saw Alan Sexton and Mickey McAuliffe take on Matthew Bradley and Will Harrington. For €2,100, Sexton and McAuliffe gained ground after an even start. They rose a bowl of odds after seven and won by that margin. Also, in north Cork at Bweeng, in the novice veteran championship, Eugene O’Sullivan defeated Conor Roche and Dan O’Regan defeated Matty Martin.

In the City division at Curraheen, Anthony Crowley defeated Declan O’Leary and Evan Buckley defeated Denis Connolly. Here too, Tom O’Donovan defeated Peter Nagle for €1,040 and Pascal Bowen defeated Paul Walsh, last shot, for €1,140.

In the North-East division at Doneraile, Timmie McDonagh defeated Michael Murphy, last shot, for €2,000 and, on the way back here, Tommy McDonagh defeated Rico O’Brien, last shot, for €1,400. Also, in North East in the championship at Ballyhooly, Paddy O’Donoghue defeated John McCarthy and Tom Allen defeated Vincent O’Leary.

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