O’Donovan lays down marker with superb display

James O’Donovan is the first name on the Willie Whelton Cup after a sensational performance saw him beat All-Ireland champion Thomas Mackle by three bowls of odds at Grange.

O’Donovan lays down marker with superb display

This is an especially important win for O’Donovan as the cup commemorates one of his most ardent supporters. It also extends his impressive form of 2016 into the new season. Such an emphatic win over the All-Ireland champion also puts down a very serious marker for both the Joe McVeigh Cup and senior championship.

He set the pace from the off with three great bowls to sight at the stud farm. He got a great opening shot that Mackle missed by 30m. Mackle rallied with a great second shot, but O’Donovan upped the ante by beating it by 50m. Mackle left himself open when he missed sight at the stud farm. O’Donovan scorched past that to push his lead to almost a bowl.

His next got a fabulous rub off Holland’s wall. Mackle played his too far right and it hit the wall, leaving him a bowl and 60m behind. O’Donovan pushed that to almost two bowls with a great fifth shot to De Barra’s. He was at the top of the school hill after a great sixth. He then lofted perfectly to go through the school cross to Hegarty’s wall. Mackle replied with a purlicue but it failed to make sight and he was now two bowls and 40m behind.

After two more brilliant bowls to the big tree he was three bowls clear and the contest was over.

These two could potentially meet again on Easter Sunday in the Joe McVeigh Cup final, the centrepiece of the Ból-Fada Festival on the Markethill Road at Tassagh. Mackle is already qualified for the overall semi-final as current Ulster champion. His opponent will be the winner of a qualifying competition which will be played next weekend over the Ból-Fada course.

The first semi-final on Saturday involves Martin Toal, Peadar Toal and Paul O’Reilly. This one will be very hard to call, though Martin Toal may have a bit more consistency in his favour. The second is between Cathal Toal, Bryan O’Reilly and Eddie Carr. If Toal hits form in this one then he could have the edge. The two winners meet on Sunday for the right to play Mackle on Easter Saturday.

James O’Donovan is among the six Munster semi-finalists. He faces both David Murphy and Gary Daly on Saturday March 18. On Sunday’s form at Grange, he will give himself every chance of advancing to a the final the following day. The second semi-final is between Martin Coppinger, Aidan Murphy and Edmond Sexton. The overall winner will play Munster champion Killian Kingston in the Joe McVeigh Cup semi-final.

Thomas Boyle will contest the Josie Crean Cup final at Whitechurch following an impressive win over Andrew O’Callaghan. O’Callaghan opened with a great bowl to win the first tip by 70m. From there on, Boyle quickly gained control. He was a bowl clear at the wall and he extended that to two bowls at Boula lane.

O’Callaghan kept the lead at two bowls past the farm. Boyle then played a brilliant bowl past the Devil’s bend to extend his lead and O’Callaghan conceded.

David O’Mahony finished strongly at Jagoes Mills to edge John Shorten in the last shot. Shorten looked in control when he led by a bowl at the power station. O’Mahony’s challenge gathered momentum to Ballinvard cross, where the lead was just 40m. He clipped that back to just a metre with his second last to Griffin’s. He then won the last exchange to secure his win, with his only fore bowl of the score.

At Ballydehob, Tony O’Sullivan beat James Nagle by close to two bowls. He broke the deadlock with brilliant ninth and 10th shots that catapulted him clear.

Tadhg Creedon beat Donal Cullinane in the last shot of the Healy’s Bar Cup final at Kilcorney. Cullinane started impressively to raise an early bowl of odds. He extended his lead to Cooney’s. Creedon got a great bowl to Coleman’s bridge which cut the lead to just 20m.

Cullinane pushed clear again in the shots to McKeering’s. Creedon continued to press and won his first lead with his second last shot, he held the lead with a good last throw.

Conor O’Donovan was the star of the mid-Cork team that won the Munster youth team event at the Phale Road, Ballineen. He got two vital shots that turned the tide against a game West Cork side. The first was a super shot to sight on the narrow road and he sealed victory with a brilliant last shot to get past the 1,522m target set by West Cork.

His brother Eoin and Daniel Wilmot bowled well too to secure the win over West Cork team of Michael Cronin, Danny O’Donovan and Eoin Hurley.

Hannah Sexton brought her 2016 double championship winning form to the girls final to secure victory for South West. Her sister Margaret and Ciara Ahern were key to that win too over the West Cork team of Susan McCarthy, Kate Murray, and Rachael Kingston.

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