Ryan edges Russell in Munster opener

All-Ireland senior women’s champion Carmel Ryan secured a hard-fought victory over Sharon Russell in the first round of the Munster championship at Ballinacurra.

There were no top-flight men’s championship scores in possibly the busiest week of the year, as hundreds of regional and provincial ties were decided. The Munster Junior B championship stepped out of the shadows with wins for Jimmy O’Driscoll, Olan Noonan, Wayne Kingston and Thomas Boyle.

At senior men’s level, James Buckley defeated Edmund Sexton in the opening round of the Mick Barry Cup at Ballincurrig in the race for King of the Roads. At Shannonvale, Christy Mullins finished strongly to beat Thomas Mackle in the last shot of the Focus Ireland benefit.

Jimmy O’Driscoll was the first Junior B winner at provincial level when he beat James Nagle at The Clubhouse. Nagle won the first tip, but O’Driscoll got a brilliant second to the post office, Nagle got two poor shots in response to fall a bowl behind. O’Driscoll continued to press ahead and had almost two bowls at Clonakilty cross. There was no way back now for Nagle as O’Driscoll bowled relentlessly and raised a third bowl after nine.

Thomas Boyle bowled strongly in the second half at Ballincurrig to beat Martin Daly by well over a bowl. He won the opening shot well, but Daly levelled in the next three and led after a big shot to the creamery. They were level at the no-play line, but Daly regained the lead with his next and led onto the long straight.

Boyle got a brilliant bowl to light at the top of the long straight to regain control. He was almost a bowl in front at the big corner and raised it in full at the top of the short straight. He increased his lead towards two to the sycamores.

Olan Noonan beat Peter Murray by a bowl at Castletownkenneigh. He led by just 35m after two. Murray then made two mistakes in succession to fall over a bowl behind. He was too tight on the left with the first and just beat Noonan’s tip with his next. He cut the gap to a bowl at the round tower and knocked the bowl to Pyne’s corner. He then beat a good bowl from Noonan and it looked close to level.

Noonan dismissed that illusion with a spectacular bowl tight inside the yellow line that ran all the way to sight at the last bend. That put him a bowl clear and ended the contest.

Wayne Kingston beat Jerry O’Riordan in the last shot at Templemartin. He was a bowl clear after four to Slyne’s corner. O’Riordan levelled with a brilliant shot from there. It was neck and neck until Kingston got a great shot to Buttimer’s lane. O’Riordan rallied with a big last but it missed the line and Kingston beat it.

Sharon Russell gave Carmel Ryan a searching test at Ballinacurra. She had a big lead after three to Brinny cross. Ryan levelled to Foley’s, but Russell took control to Perrott’s. Ryan’s next bowl rubbed and she was ahead at the GAA field. She lost ground through Innishannon cross. Russell missed the line by 30m with a big last and Ryan beat the line with a great riposte.

Last year’s intermediate champion Megan Collins won her first senior championship score against Nicola O’Sullivan at Grange. She led by a bowl at the school cross. O’Sullivan drew level at de Barra’s and they were locked together for the last shot. O’Sullivan missed the line with her last bowl and Collins beat it when her bowl brushed.

James Oliver closed in on the Ulster intermediate title when he beat Paul O’Reilly and Donal Daly at Port Mór/Blackwatertown. Three big shots to the orchard corner gave him a bowl on O’Reilly and two on Daly. O’Reilly finished strongly, but Oliver held on for a comfortable last-shot win.

Mid Cork (Ger O’Driscoll/Mike O’Callaghan) won the Munster final of the Michael Cusack Cup at Grange where they beat Cork City (Declan O’Leary/Colin O’Callaghan) by two bowls and Carbery (Shane Shannon/Denis O’Sullivan) by three. O’Driscoll’s big opener gave the winners a bowl of odds and they had two after three to Hodnett’s. They dominated the rest of the score.

At Ballincurrig, James Buckley led Edmund Sexton by a bowl at the top of the short straight. His form dipped in the run-in and Sexton was in front for the last shot. Buckley just beat the line from poor sight and Sexton missed the tip by less than a metre.

Mackle led all the early shots at Shannonvale and had a bowl on Christy Mullins at the quarry. Mullins stayed in contention with a big shot to Desmond’s and had the lead under a bowl at Tobin’s. He got a great bowl past Campbell’s lane to take his first lead. Mullins had 70m after his next to sight, but Mackle cut it to 15m with his second last. Mullins easily won the last exchange.

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