Martin Coppinger’s big finish too much for Thomas Mackle

Martin Coppinger beat Thomas Mackle by a bowl in the semi-final of the Kealkill Cup.

Martin Coppinger’s big finish too much for Thomas Mackle

He got a tonic start when Mackle played his opener to the right, but didn’t build on it. Mackle got a big bowl from the post office and when Coppinger’s reply hit a wall at the creamery he was 50m hind.

Coppinger’s next was not his best, but Mackle blew his reply to the right and lost the initiative.

Coppinger wrested back control in the shots to O’Mahony’s. He completed the coup with three brilliant shots from there. The first very luckily came off the hedge and ran to sight. He made the graveyard with his next. He followed with a massive bowl to within 60m of the line.

At Clondrohid Edmond Sexton beat James Buckley, who was bowling competitively for the first time since winning King of the Roads in October.

Sexton won the first tip well. Buckley’s second cracked off and just beat that tip. Sexton got an extraordinary second, which Buckley beat by just 15m in two to leave almost two bowls between them. Buckley rallied to the Bell Inn to bring the lead back to a bowl. Sexton opened the next bend in three to safeguard his lead to the finish.

Twelve players will contest the 2015 Munster senior championship following last week’s annual grading. The initial rounds will be played in four pools of three with two players from each qualifying for the quarter-finals.

All-Ireland champion Aidan Murphy looks likely to emerge from Pool B, with Killian Kingston and James O’Donovan battling to join him. David Murphy will be favourite to qualify from Pool A, though he has a mixed record against Gary Daly and will also have to contend with in-form Edmond Sexton.

If James Buckley recaptures his King of the Roads form he should have enough to come out of Pool C, leaving Brian Wilmot and John Creedon fighting for the other place. Newcomer Seamus Sexton got a very difficult assignment in Pool D where he has to contend with Martin Coppinger, winner of three All-Irelands since 2010 and Christy Mullins who consistently makes the latter stages.

There are 18 starters in the intermediate championship, which will have a format similar to the senior grade for the first time. It has four new players including Seán Murphy who is automatically promoted as 2014 Junior A winner and his cousin Kieran Murphy who won Junior B the previous season. Two of last year’s seniors, Raymond Ryan and Trevor O’Meara, were relegated to intermediate.

Four of last year’s intermediates were relegated to Junior A including former World Champion Bill Daly. The others to drop are Éamon Bowen, Liam O’Sullivan and Jimmy O’Donoghue.

At Donoughmore Dean Sexton beat Paudie Murphy in the last shot. He took a decisive lead when Murphy missed the bounds and his bowl rubbed to light. He raised a bowl with his sixth to Ring’s and held it to the start of the straight. Murphy got two brilliant bowls on the straight to beat the line. Sexton did well to beat that last shot.

Brendan O’Neill beat David O’Mahony by a bowl in the Sean Leahy Cup at the Pike. O’Mahony won the first shot, but O’Neill made White’s cross in four more to go a bowl clear. O’Mahony was sharper to the bridge where he led again. They were level to the novice line. O’Neill got a great bowl onto the finish straight and won comfortably.

Donie O’Donovan won the Kenneth Murphy Shield final at Jagoes Mills, where he beat Brendan Hurley by two bowls. Hurley led by a bowl at O’Brien’s bend. O’Donovan then turned the score with three brilliant bowls to Lawton’s.

Donal Riordan beat Gavin Twohig by a bowl in the Kealkill intermediate tournament. He raised 80m odds in the early throws, but Twohig levelled with a good bowl past the creamery. Riordan re-established his dominance to go a bowl clear in the shots to O’Sullivan’s. Twohig took advantage a poor sequence from Riordan to get back into contention at the graveyard bend.

Twohig hit a post with his next and Riordan beat it by 40m. Twohig followed with a good shot to the second car park. Riordan was too tight on the left with his reply and it hit a wall 50m hind. He instantly regained control with a sensational bowl that missed the line by just 10m. Twohig missed that in two.

Denis Murphy had four outings at Ballinacurra winning two and losing two with Thomas Boyle and Anthony Gould. Boyle raised a bowl after good second and third shots to Brinny cross. His form dipped to the muddy gap, but he raced two bowls clear to Innishannon cross. Murphy cut it to a bowl in the closing stages and led all the way in the second score.

There will be a special commemoration for Mick Barry at UCC on March 4. The event will include tributes on his bowling achievements, his 50-year UCC career where he was Head Gardener, and other tributes.

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