Aidan Murphy and Martin Coppinger were the star turn at Castletownbere on Wednesday 28th. Both men hit the high spots in performances of top-class bowling that were almost identical in their execution. The Eyeries road out from the fishing town was the Mecca for hundreds and it was Murphy’s clash with long-time adversary, Gary Daly, that got the RNLI fund-raisers under way amid the post-Christmas showers. Theirs is an enduring rivalry. Murphy was the winner of their RNLI fund-raiser on the Allihies road in 2019 but Daly was the master at the ‘Dowtcha Boy’ festival at Skibbereen in March and again in a mid-summer tournament score at Bantry. Both hit form from the off with Daly taking what proved to be his only lead after three fine shots to the bend past the ‘Cope centre’. Murphy’s fifth and sixth were expertly delivered and, when his lofted seventh, escaped the left, he held significant yardage on his Fermoy rival. Another beauty from Murphy around the right-hand bend put him a bowl of odds up. Daly could not make inroads as Murphy relentlessly powered on increasing his advantage with every shot. He had close to two bowls with three shots to go. It was a punter’s paradise in Castletownbere with massive stakes in almost all of the eight scores contested, and the opening set-to was no exception with a €60,000 total involved. Ger Connolly overcame a few blips to deny Shane Shannon in the return for a €56,200 total and the stage was set for the second senior contest of the day in which the Murphy clan were hoping for a double. That did not transpire as Martin Coppinger brought his best game to the west and, not for the first time, came out on top of his highly charged encounter with David Murphy. The early stages belonged to the Brinny man as fast accurate opening shots gave him a forty-metre lead after three. It might have been more had his third enjoyed a better run. Coppinger’s fourth was a rocket on the right. It gave him his first lead and was the precursor to a brilliant sequence that displayed the full range of his capabilities. The pick was surely his spectacularly lofted seventh pitched with precision seventy metres across ‘the double bend’ ensuring a substantial lead. His eighth was outstanding as well and pushed him a bowl in front. Murphy lined two big shots to the ‘graveyard entrance’ that might have knocked odds on a lesser opponent, but Coppinger matched both and indeed matched Aidan Murphy’s outstanding morning display as well as he took the spoils with a bowl of odds to spare. They played for a total of €57,600. Brian Wilmot, very much the underdog, scored a two-bowl victory over Tommy O’Sullivan in the last of Wednesday’s scores. There was an €11,400 total in this one. Four more on Thursday saw O’Sullivan rebound with a win over Eamonn Bowen; Jim Coffey defeat John Cahalane; Paul Buckley get the better of Tim Young and Brian O’Driscoll come from arrears to deny Anthony Crowley. Organisers in Castletownbere, Neil Minihane and his hard-working team, express thanks to players and punters for the support they have given to their fund-raising venture.
Also, on over the Christmas period was the Ballinacurra, Upton, junior tournament with three qualifying scores unveiling a final that will have last year’s junior B county winner, Denis O’Sullivan, City’s Trevor O’Meara and David O’Mahony, Fivemilebridge, fighting it out for the winner’s prize. On Christmas Eve O’Sullivan finished strongly to deny Sean Murphy in a score of mixed bowling that carried a €6,000 total. On St. Stephen’s Day, O’Mahony and Denis Wilmot took issue for a €4,600 stake. Having exchanged the lead on numerous occasions for three-quarters of the way, O’Mahony made the vital break with a huge cast at ‘Cronin’s’ and it was enough for victory. The third qualifier was a three-way on Tuesday and here Edmund Sexton strong early challenge faded after a few misplays leaving O’Meara and Rossmore’s Gavin Twohig to fight it out at the front. The City contender prevailed in a score of many lead changes for a combined €7,800.
North Cork choose to complete their novice E competition over the Christmas period and Bweeng staged the semi-finals and final. In the penultimate rounds on Tuesday 27, Mark Sexton overcame Daniel O’Brien and Barry Twomey won from Willie Murphy. The final on Friday proved a cracker with Twomey outlasting Sexton by a bowl of odds for a €2,440 stake. Willie Murphy was in the winner’s enclosure in the return defeating Aidan O’Brien for a €1,100 total. At the City venue, Curraheen on Tuesday 27, Paul Butler defeated Joe Madden in the last shot for €1,500.
The Carrignavar-Bottlehill Christmas tournament proved hugely popular in the North-East division. The finals on Sunday at Bottlehill attracted a large gathering and the doubles decider for the John O’Donovan Cup was won by Billy Cahill with former county U16 runner-up, Billy Connolly, a capable partner. They had a two-bowl margin to spare on Eamonn Connolly and Declan O’Leary. The three-man team final for the John O’Mahony Cup went the way of Brian Quinlan/Niall Maloney/Bernard O’Donovan after a good battle with Mick Cahill, Ryan Buckley and vintage C finalist, Pat Scanlon. The outward doubles carried a €4,100 stake while the team event was played for a €4,300 total. In the Gaeltacht, at Ballyvourney on New Year’s Day, a doubles contest saw victory for the Lynch combination, Anthony and Darragh who saw off the challenge of E winner, Joe Warren and Micheal O’Callaghan. Gaeltacht’s new club, Inchigeelagh had a fine turnout for their New Year start on Bank Holiday Monday Jan 2nd. A good day’s bowling began with a win for local clubman, Joe Creedon who got the better of Anthony Lynch for a €2,800 stake. Ballyvourney’s Liam Murphy won a cracking return score from Uibh Laoire’s Cathal Vaughan before Eoin O’Riordan combined with Darren Kelly to deny Darren Oliver and Killian Kelleher by almost a bowl for a €4,700 total.