Ból-Fada festival to set scene for season

The first barometer of the 2015 bowling season will be played out at the three-day Ból-Fada festival at Keady-Tassagh in Armagh over the weekend.

In the feature Joe McVeigh Cup, champion Aidan Murphy faces James O’Donovan in his semi-final on Saturday. Despite his loss to Martin Coppinger in the Kealkill Cup last weekend, his experience on the road should make him favourite.

In the opening semi-final, Ulster champion Cathal Toal will be the fancy too against Conor McGuigan. The result is far from certain though. Toal has the speed to burn off most players, but McGuigan has the capacity to produce his best on the big occasion.

Sunday’s programme should attract a record crowd to the Markethill Road.

The meeting of Kelly Mallon and Silke Tulk in the Charlemont Cup is a really attractive score.

Mallon should benefit from knowledge of the road and a huge home following, but she will have to be at her best from line-to-line to defeat the Dutch champion.

Thomas Mackle will be hoping to give the home supporters the perfect start when he takes on Christy Mullins in the Pete Grimley Cup. Mullins had a dip in form at Kealkill, but could bounce back here to spoil the Ulster party.

The festival opens on Friday on the Viaduct Road in Tassagh with an exciting North-South double.

Here Mairéad O’Driscoll, fresh from a good intermediate win over Elaine Collins at Caheragh, teams up with Claire O’Sullivan. The Armagh combination of Sinéad Kiernan and Jane O’Neill is strong, but the Cork pair should have their measure.

The Joe McVeigh Cup semi-finals are the principal business on Saturday, but there are two very attractive support scores.

Last Sunday, Donal Riordan produced a massive last shot at Kealkill to beat Michael Bohane in the Connie Killarney Cup final, with Denis O’Driscoll off the pace in third place.

Riordan’s first bowl hopped the kerb to leave him 50m hind. Bohane led well in the next shots, but Riordan cut the odds and led with a big bowl past the post office.

He led past O’Sullivan’s and kept good odds past Kingston’s. Bohane got a brilliant bowl to the railing at the car park. Riordan missed it as his reply was too tight and hopped the brow.

Riordan was back in front after a big shot past the second graveyard. Bohane then got a super second last shot that was just 60m short of the line.

Riordan caught the left with his reply and missed the tip by 20m. He compensated immediately with a monster of a bowl past the line to the far bend. Bohane missed that well.

Martin Coppinger put a damper on Cork ambitions for Ból-Fada through his defeat of Aidan Murphy and Christy Mullins in the Kealkill Cup final on Saturday.

He was dominant from a great first shot on, with Murphy his main rival and Mullins never getting to his normal tilt. He was just past the post office in four where he had a bowl on Murphy and two on Mullins. He held that lead despite Murphy’s great shot past the council houses.

Murphy knocked the bowl at O’Sullivan’s, but Coppinger raised it again with his next. He held that lead to the graveyard and finished in 13 shots to win by well over a bowl.

Andrew O’Leary beat Davey Fitzgerald in the last shot of their Munster intermediate championship tie at Grenagh.

He was 100m clear after two, but Fitzgerald levelled to the white wall. O’Leary had almost a bowl after three more and held that to Boula lane. He raised a bowl with a great bowl to the cross. Fitzgerald then got a brilliant bowl to the farm and cut the lead to 60m. His last was poor though and O’Leary didn’t have to throw again.

Jimmy Cowhig beat Brendan O’Neill by close to two bowls in the Mid-Cork Junior A championship at Béal na mBláth. He got a very short opening shot and didn’t lead till his third past the water. They were level to Shorten’s cross. Cowhig raised a bowl with his next as O’Neill got two short shots. O’Neill then got a big bowl to Long’s lane which Cowhig missed in two to lose the lead.

Cowhig regained the lead with a big shot to Twohig’s and led to the big corner. After two more he was a bowl in front and pushed his lead towards a second bowl in the following throws.

Donncha O’Brien beat Chris O’Donovan by a bowl in the West Cork Junior A at Drinagh. O’Donovan opened with a record shot to Coakley’s wicket and led to the novice line. O’Brien led with a brilliant fourth to sight at the waterfall. O’Donovan regained the lead at Shandrum cross.

A great break off the church wall with his 10th put O’Brien back in front. He followed with two great bowls towards the ‘barking dog’ to raise a bowl. They were just short of the line in two more. Humphrey O’Leary beat Peter Murray at Togher Cross, to put him virtually out of contention.

David Hubbard beat John O’Rourke by well over a bowl too in the North Cork Junior A at Bweeng. Jimmy O’Driscoll had a one-sided win over Kieran O’Driscoll at the Pike in the South West Junior A.

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