Wilmot led by 50m after five to Mac’s Cross. O’Neill cut that to 20m with his next and that lead still separated them at Allen’s lane. O’Neill’s next broke unkindly to the right and Wilmot pushed his lead to 60m with his reply up the hill. He continued to build his odds and was a bowl in front before Desmond’s lane.
There was still almost a bowl between them at Collins’ lane. They both made O’Brien’s cross in another three, where the lead was still just under a bowl. Wilmot made sight with a good bowl from there, but O’Neill replied with a massive shot to beat it by 60m. Wilmot missed the last bend with his next and O’Neill closed the gap further by making sight. Wilmot beat that tip by just 40m with his next shot.
O’Neill then played a searing last bowl past the line. It took a rub after the line and still had plenty of running in it when it struck a car. That reduced the challenge for Wilmot and although his bowl brushed a wall it still had enough to beat the tip.
Paul Buckley beat Jerry Gibbons by almost a bowl in the John-Joe Murphy Cup at Bauravilla. It was a score of contrasts for Gibbons who bowled impressively in the first half, but his form faded in the run-in. He won all the early shots and raised a bowl with a great bowl to Dekker’s. He was still almost a bowl in front at the rock.
He took four more to just short of light at the bridge, where Buckley had the lead down to just 20m. Buckley clipped that to a metre with his next shot. He then got a good bowl to the bottom of the hill. Gibbons lost the lead when his reply just made the top of the hill.
Buckley increased his odds to 100m with his next to the hollow. He easily won the next three shots to push his lead to almost a bowl before the line.
Billy McAuliffe got a sensational last shot to beat Darren Oliver at Grenagh. Oliver took a big lead with a great third to the playing field, but McAuliffe fought back and went a bowl in front at the Ash tree. Oliver closed the gap with a great bowl to Boula lane and regained the lead by 30m with his second last. McAuliffe then beat the line by 60m with a huge bowl. Oliver did well to come within 40m of that tip.
James Oliver had better luck than his brother when he won the Northern Builders final at Knappagh. In the three-way handicap final he gave a shot of odds to Darren Donnelly and two shots to Oliver O’Neill.
Donnelly got a very poor opening shot and never featured. By contrast O’Neill got a great opener and took the contest to Oliver, so much so that he was still almost a bowl in front at the Minister’s. A mistake there gave Oliver the opening to level at the Condy corner. He had too much power for O’Neill in the last shot.
Conor McGuigan beat Paul Rafferty by a bowl in the opening round of the Madden tournament. He led from the off and was a bowl clear after six. Rafferty rallied and levelled with a great bowl into the pipe corner. He lost all his gains with a poor shot from the bend and McGuigan restored his bowl of odds and won comfortably.
Michael Toal has been preparing quietly for his meeting with Martin Coppinger through a handicap tournament at Port Mór/Blackwatertown where he beat Adrian Daly by a bowl in the final.
Wayne Callanan beat PJ Cooney in the last shot in the Flor Crowley Cup at Jagoes Mills. He led all the way. He was 30m fore after six to O’Brien’s bend. He made Nyhan’s in three more where he was a bowl in front and he held that to the power station.
Cooney got a massive bowl from there towards Ballinvard cross, which Callanan only beat by 30m in two. Callanan was 40m fore after the shots to the cross. Cooney followed with another good bowl to Griffin’s, which cut the lead to a metre for the last shot. His last bowl went seriously awry though and just beat the line, leaving Callanan with a very simple tip to beat.
Dave Fitzgerald beat Vincent Cahalane by almost a bowl in the Marsh road semi-final. He was a bowl clear at the quarry gate and held that into the last quarter. Cahalane closed the gap dramatically in the last three, but Fitzgerald had too big a cushion.
The St Patrick’s weekend will be dedicated to a series of events in all nine Munster regions to raise funds for the Bowling Arena project.