Murphy and Mackle set for final thriller

David Murphy and Thomas Mackle meet in what promises to be a thrilling All-Ireland senior bowling final at Port Mór- Blackwatertown in County Armagh on Sunday.

The senior final will bring the curtain down on the second of the premier All-Ireland series, with seven titles on offer.

It is Murphy’s third senior final, he beat Michael Toal in 2008, but lost in 2011 to Conor McGuigan. That defeat was considered one of the biggest in the history of the sport.

Murphy was not only totally dominant at the time, but none of his challengers looked likely to overtake him. This time round he has been rebuilding his career following injury and a few years where his form dipped.

He looked rusty in the opening half against Gary Daly in the Munster finalat Macroom and had shown only flashes of top form to that point in 2015. In the second half he was a different prospect.

He started to pull off shots few others possess. If he can continue in that vein on Sunday, he will be hard to stop.

Mackle is a bowler of exceptional quality too. He contested three successive U18 finals between 2007 and 2009 — winning two — and was All-Ireland intermediate champion in 2012. He has long been seen as the heir apparent to his uncle, Michael Toal. Sunday would be a good day to step out from that long shadow.

Sunday morning opens with what should be a great Veteran (over 50)final between Paul Grimley and Dan O’Halloran.

O’Halloran is a powerful player who has spent his career in the top three grades in Munster. His won the European championship in Norden in 1988and was All-Ireland U18 champion in 1980. Grimley will be a big test forhim.

Grimley is one of only two players to win the Junior A title twice, 1991and 2006. He also won the 1981 All-Ireland U18 final and contested in 1992 senior final against Pat Butler. He is a highly motivated player andwill thrive in front of a partisan home crowd.

Darren Donnelly is bidding to make it seven-in-a-row for Ulster in the All-Ireland Junior B final against Cian Boyle tomorrow. Munster’s last winner in the grade was Mick Hurley in 2008. Among those who have suffered defeat is Boyle’s father, Thomas, who lost at Whitechurch last year. Donnelly will have home venue and an impressive Ulster campaign to buoy his confidence.

Boyle is a young player with a lot of potential. However, the big question tomorrow is whether he has the consistency to deliver from line to line. If he drops his guard on this road, he may not have the opportunities to bounce back as he did in the Munster semi-final and final.

The boy’s U16 final between Odhran Rafferty and Tom O’Donovan could be the score of the weekend. Rafferty, a nephew of the great Michael Toal, was defeated in both the 2011 U12 and the 2013 U14 finals by Dylan O’Driscoll. That said, he has been consistently at the top of his age group in Ulster and his previous All-Ireland experience has to be a bonus.

O’Donovan gave a very polished performance against Timmy McDonagh in the Munster final at Templemichael.

Aileen Murphy, who won the 2009 U16 final, is aiming for her second All-Ireland title against Aoife Traynor in the women’s intermediate final in tomorrow s opening score.

Maria Nagle defends her All-Ireland U16 title, though she was given a walkover last year. Afer defending her Munster crown against Katie Sexton, the 2013 champion, she now faces a strong challenge from Leah Grimley.

Ulster’s Jake Cullen and promising Munster champion Darragh Dempsey meet in the boys’ U12 final.

All-Ireland Bowling finals (Series Two) – Port Mór – Blackwatertown, Co. Ulster Saturday August 1 10.30 am Ladies Intermediate: Aoife Traynor (Ulster) v Aileen Murphy (Munster). Boys u12 final: Jake Cullen (Ulster) v Darragh Dempsey (Munster).

2.30 pm Junior B men: Darren Donnelly (Ulster) v Cian Boyle (Munster). Girls u16 final: Leah Grimley (Ulster) v Maria Nagle (Munster).

Sunday August 2 10.30 am Veteran Men (over-50): Paul Grimley (Ulster) v Dan O’Halloran (Munster). Boys u16: Odhran Rafferty (Ulster) v Tom O’Donovan (Munster).

Senior Men: Thomas Mackle (Ulster) V David Murphy (Munster).

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