Séamus Sexton stars as King of the Roads quest begins

Michael Bohane and Séamus Sexton had the two first wins in the Mick Barry Cup in the race to the Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads at Ballincurrig.

Séamus Sexton stars as King of the Roads quest begins

Sexton scorched to just short of the line in 15 shots in his two bowls of odds win over Éamon Bowen. They took two to sight and Sexton was just fore after three to the black sign. He quickly put light between them by following with three great shots to the no-play line after Bowen missed in six. He raised a bowl with his next from the play line.

He opened the big corner in 11, where he had well over a bowl. He raised a second bowl by reaching the sycamores in two more. He was just short of the line in another two to push his lead over two bowls.

Bohane beat Arthur McDonagh by just a metre in a much tighter affair.

Neither player got a good opening shot and it took them three each to beat Moore’s gate. Bohane was past Hegarty’s in four more, while McDonagh only reached the no-play line. Bohane kept control on the long straight without pulling clear. McDonagh then got a big bowl to Leahy’s to bring him back into it.

Bohane missed a chance to tighten his grip after McDonagh failed to open the big corner. McDonagh continued to press and led at the sycamores. Bohane then got a super shot past the elbow to lead by 10 metres. McDonagh made poor sight with his next and Bohane went well onto the last straight. McDonagh closed with a sensational bowl to the end of the green, but Bohane held his nerve and beat it by a metre.

James O’Donovan beat Martin Coppinger in a curtain raiser to the All-Ireland series at Lyre.

He opened with two sensational bowls past the forestry entrance to raise almost a bowl. Coppinger got the better of the next two and led at the tunnel. He was still fore after another three to sight at Crowley’s. O’Donovan regained the lead with a good bowl from there and was still in front after the next exchange to just short of light at McCarthy’s.

O’Donovan had 40m after the next to the wall, but Coppinger clipped that to 10m with a good shot to the big tree. O’Donovan won the next shots by 25m. Coppinger’s next was short and O’Donovan punished him with a great bowl towards the line. Coppinger’s last was not enough to pose a challenge.

Darragh Dempsey set the groundwork for his All-Ireland U12 win with an impressive victory against Danny O’Donovan in the Munster final at Lyre. He had a big lead after four to the Mason’s Hill. O’Donovan won the lead with a good bowl down the hill. Dempsey regained the lead with his next and stayed in front to the school cross.

He then got a great shot towards the creamery to raise a bowl. He increased his dominance by beating a good bowl from O’Donovan’s past Harte’s. He was just short of the line with a third great bowl in a row.

Thomas Mackle’s All-Ireland senior final win is an important milestone in his personal ambition to fill the void left by his uncle, Michael Toal, as the dominant figure in Ulster. During Toal’s pomp, the Ulster championship diminished as a competitive entity, offering him a virtual free run to the All-Ireland final. Mackle is unlikely to achieve that in the short-run, but he will be a major force over the next decade.

He led Killian Kingston from start to finish and seemed to be cruising at times, yet he never put the score out of reach. A forensic comparison between Kingston’s Munster and All-Ireland final would show that he was well shy of his best. Taking five to the school cross presented him with a virtually impossible task, yet he breached Mackle’s armour a few times.

Both players might do worse than reflect on the fate of the two young teams that contested the 2013 All-Ireland senior hurling final. Victory for Clare did not, as anticipated at the time, lead to immediate continued success. And look at how Cork have fallen since. These two could potentially face each other in several finals, but they will need both luck and good career planning to do that.

David Shannon gave a hugely impressive performance in the Junior B final. After two modest opening shots, he managed to reach the pub in 10. He showed a level of power, accuracy, and confidence far higher than his current grade. He has the potential to emulate the likes of Patrick Moynihan and move up the grades over the next few years.

Siobhán Mackle’s intermediate women’s win, though overshadowed by that of her brother Thomas, is part of an astonishing family record by members of the extended Toal family.

The Mackles’ mother, Rosheen, is a former senior All-Ireland champion. Her siblings include Michael Toal, winner of a record 10 senior All-Irelands, and Martin and Dervla, who are also on the national roll of honour. Their cousins, the Raffertys, have several underage All-Irelands and their grandfather is the great Aidan Toal.

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