A look back on the action in Bantry, Vintage section B final, ladies bowling and the rest of the weekends action
Bantry bowling club hosted some lively action on Saturday and Sunday last where a senior contest and a couple of high-profile junior clashes made for an entertaining two-day programme. The big one on Saturday, was the clash of Gary Daly and Aidan Murphy, two men who had successful outings at the recent Castletownbere RNLI fund-raiser series. Daly took the laurels on this occasion with a commanding trap-to-line win that showed him in the peak of form as he heads into what should be a busy season that will almost certainly include a European Championship appearance in May. For a combined €16,400, he shaded the tips by a metre after both hit good opening shots and then took full advantage when Murphy got little purchase on a second shot that veered left off the play. Almost a bowl down, Murphy made a brave attempt to reel in some odds with a brilliant sixth to ‘Harrington’s’, but Daly matched that fine effort to hold his advantage. It was under the bowl at ‘Casey’s’ in seven and eight and, here, Murphy might have made more of an average eighth by the Fermoy man but again went left off the sop. Daly increased his lead at ‘Sweeney’s garage’ and came home a convincing winner, despite Murphy’s big cast at the novice line. Next up for Daly is the O’Connell/Dullea Cup final at Ballygurteen on this Saturday when he takes on Michael Bohane.
Sunday’s feature on the ‘Creamery road’ was a meeting of Carbery’s Shane Shannon and in-form Newcestown man, Ger O’Driscoll. Shannon put the brakes on O’Driscoll’s good run in this one thanks in the main to a strong start that had him a bowl to the good after five. Having doubled his lead at ‘Casey’s’, the Durrus man faced a ferocious fightback from O’Driscoll over the closing quarter. Shannon held out for a last shot win. The stake at issue amounted to €4,000. O’Driscoll went down to a second defeat at Bantry when Adrian Buttimer avenged a recent Ardcahan defeat to the Newcestown man. Buttimer scored a last shot victory for a €3,000 total. In a further score at Bantry on Sunday, Martin O’Donovan defeated Joseph O’Mahony, last shot, for €2,800.
In Saturday’s second score, played back after the senior contest. local, Sean O’Leary, who plays the final of the 2021 West Cork novice B championship against David O’Brien at Drinagh on this Saturday, had a battle royal with Anthony Crowley for a €2,600 total. Crowley made a good start rising close on a bowl with his opening three, but his form dipped dramatically from there and was hind after six to ‘Casey’s’. O’Leary hit a brilliant sequence to ‘Harrington’s’ that swung the contest totally his way. His winning margin at the end was just over a bowl of odds.
The vintage section B final at Togher Cross on Sunday morning was in keeping with the best traditions of the grade. As with the previous weekend at Jagoe’s Mills, two of the games elder statesmen produced a contest to savour. To the Gaeltacht and Michéal O’Ceallachain go the spoils, deservedly for chasing a seemingly lost cause and then having the coolness and focus to take that last gasp chance when it came his way. There was disappointment for Carbery followers and Donal Harnedy who hit shots of the highest order at different points but those four in succession from ‘Hurley’s bend’ were his undoing. The Skibb man lost no caste in defeat, but the feeling remained of one that got away. Harnedy steadily built a lead from the off. O’Callachain’s opener broke badly and, when Harnedy sixty metres up after five, hit a majestic sixth to sight at the ‘chips’, a bowl and forty metres separated them in the Carbery man’s favour. O’Ceallachain, who is capably filling the Honorary Secretarial role for Bol Chumann na hEireann since August 24, hit a splendid ninth to ‘Hurley’s bend’, but Harnedy replied in kind with a beautifully judged effort and retained his bowl lead. Unfortunately for the Carbery man, his next three did not get traction and O’Ceallachain squeezed the margin to forty metres coming up to ‘Cronin’s’. It was down to ten after the next exchange before a decisive moment came when the Gaeltacht man fired and exquisite fifteenth that gave him his first lead. Harnedy battled well but missed the finish line from Derrinacarragh school leaving it now in the hands of his Ballyvourney rival. O’Ceallachain, who also won section B in 2018, had a bit to do to win it, but showed composure in an accurate delivery that beat its target with aplomb. Bol Chumann’s James O’Driscoll congratulated both finalists on their performances and acknowledged too the remorse of the O’Callaghan family at the recent passing of Gaeltacht stalwart, Brendan, brother of score winner, Michéal. The overall vintage decider for 2020 will take place at Beal na mBlath on February 6 when three sectional winners, Jimmy Collins, Michéal O’Ceallachain and Joe Walsh play-off. The stake at Togher Cross amounted to €3,900.
The women’s winter league had a score on Sunday at Grange and here, Hannah Cronin had a two-bowl win from Helen Whyte. Lyre bowling club hosted an international fund score on Sunday when Navan Road’s rising star Aaron Hughes visited for a meeting with Tommy O’Sullivan. It carried a €17,000 total and it was Hughes who made the better start and held a bowl lead after a brilliant sequence from the ‘forest entrance’. O’Sullivan stormed back and survived a last shot ‘called bowl’ to claim a dramatic victory. Back the road here, Anthony Broderick defeated newly crowned Mid Cork novice A champion, John A Murphy, last shot, for €4,000. In the Nancy Hubbard Cup at Beal na marbh, Thomas Boyle defeated Liam Walsh, last shot for €3,000. Walsh rebounded with a win over Boyle in the return for the same stake.
For a generation, Eamonn Bowen of Carrignavar was one of the biggest names in senior bowling. His passing on Dec 14 was mourned most of all by his nearest and dearest but also by the bowling community at large. Eamonn had a chequered career. A supremely talented bowl-player who didn’t always fulfil his true potential, he could spin a bowl like no other and was almost equally as good with his left hand as his right. The top prizes didn’t always come his way, but he won a lot and came very close. His talents shone early when he won the All-Ireland U16 championship of 1969, and it was a straight promotion to senior ranks on entering adult competition. He remained there throughout his bowling career until entering vintage category in his later years. At his prime, he battled with the best defeating Denis Scully in a memorable contest at Clogheen, jousting with Bill Daly when the Leap man was at the height of his powers, and had great scores with Donie Coveney, Michael Buckley, Seamus Sexton and Mickie O’Driscoll. Eamonn was runner-up to Bill in the county senior championships of ’84 and’85 and lost out to him again in the King of the Roads final of 2000. On the European stage, Eamonn was a big success. A key member of the 1977 senior men’s team at the home international of 1977, Eamonn took the silver medal on in the Road discipline behind Seamus Sexton who won gold and ahead of Jerry O’Driscoll, bronze, as the team swept the boards against the Germans and Dutch. Eamonn was one of those selected to Loft the Viaduct in 1985 and succeeded in putting a 16oz bowl over the famed Chetwynd structure. He leaves many memories. Eamonn’s funeral Mass was celebrated at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Carrignavar on Saturday last. His coffin bore the Bol Chumann emblem and his many friends from the bowling game formed a guard of honour on his final journey. Sympathies are extended to the Bowen family.
The untimely passing of Michael O’Mahony, Drinagh, stirred memories of a talented bowl-player who shone in West Cork under-age championships in the mid-seventies. Michael defeated his class-mate, and fellow Drinagh man, Connie Connolly, in the 1975 U16 final played at Bauravilla, then under the auspices of John Walsh and Dinny O’Donoghue. It was a score oft recalled at Michael’s funeral services at Drinagh on Thursday last as was indeed his subsequent county campaign where he eventually lost out to the late Gerry O’Leary who went on to win the All-Ireland in the grade that year. Sympathies are extended to the O’Mahony family.