David Murphy delivers statement of intent at Firmount

David Murphy put down a serious marker for all with aspirations of winning the 2018 Munster senior championship when he dismissed James Buckley in a one-sided first round tie at Firmount on Saturday.

David Murphy delivers statement of intent at Firmount

His opening shot was not his best but Buckley missed it by 20m. Buckley’s second was not great and Murphy beat it well with a big shot into the straight. Buckley beat that to keep the lead under a bowl. Murphy’s next drifted left and Buckley beat it again to stave off the bowl of odds. His relief was temporary. Murphy played a huge fourth, which Buckley missed by 80m and didn’t beat by a big margin with his sixth.

Murphy’s fifth was another great bowl, but Buckley still managed to keep the lead under two bowls. Murphy had the lead over two bowls after his sixth. He drove on to raise a third bowl and Buckley conceded with five shots to go.

After just one major score last weekend, the Munster senior and intermediate championships move into a virtual blitz over the next week.

Tonight James O’Donovan and Michael Bohane meet in the first of the quarter-finals at Grange. O’Donovan’s first round win over Aidan Murphy will have sharpened him for this encounter. He also has strong family connections with the venue which is an added bonus.

Bohane is well capable of matching O’Donovan and will relish being underdog. At his best he can out-bowl almost any opponent. With just three steps to a Munster title he has plenty of motivation, so it would not be a shock if it’s his name that goes into the hat for tonight’s semi-final draw.

On Saturday, Arthur McDonagh and Séamus Sexton meet at Templemartin. McDonagh contested last year’s final and had Martin Coppinger under pressure entering the final quarter. He brought that form into the new season with a polished win over Gavin Twohig at Newcestown.

Sexton didn’t hit the same high notes at Grenagh, but still beat 2016 champion Killian Kingston. That was his first serious outing of 2018, so we should see a sharper performance from him this time. He will need to stay focused though as McDonagh will exploit any half chance.

On Monday, Edmond Sexton and Michael Harrington meet in the third quarter-final at Grenagh. This will be Harrington’s senior championship debut. He showed enough flair when winning last year’s All-Ireland intermediate final, over this road, to suggest he will not be out of place.

Sexton reached the 2016 final, losing dramatically in the last shot at Lyre to Killian Kingston. That season he was really impressive, but he has struggled to find the same level of performance since. If he brings his A game to Grenagh he will certainly advance, but he hasn’t shown much evidence of finding his best form so far this year.

The fourth quarter-final is the meeting of Martin Coppinger and David Murphy at Baile Mhuirne the following weekend. Murphy’s showing in Firmount makes him the player to beat, but Coppinger will be in no mood to relinquish his Munster and All-Ireland titles. Murphy got the win at Ból-Fada when they last met, but Coppinger has a habit of defying form when he faces Murphy.

Three Munster intermediate second round scores fill the blanks between now and Monday. Tomorrow there’s a derby meeting between Wayne Callanan and Trevor O’Meara at Pouladuff. Seán Murphy plays John Creedon at Béal na Marbh on Friday and Paddy O’Donoghue and Pa Butler meet at Ballincurrig on Saturday.

Patrick Mackle is the first provincial winner of 2018. He beat Brian Kinchin in the Ulster Junior C final on the Cathedral Road. An impressive opening sequence of five super shots to Campbell’s had him almost a bowl clear.

Kinchin hit two great bowls to McGrath’s height against three poor efforts from Mackle to win the lead.

Kinchin lost momentum with a poor shot into Starr’s hill and Mackle was back in front. He raised a bowl at the coal sheds and pulled away to the line.

Thomas Boyle beat Maurice Connolly by a bowl in the Cork City Junior veteran final at Whitechurch on Sunday having beaten Anthony Gould and Timmy McDonagh in the Moss Twomey Shield at Ballincurrig on Thursday.

Vincent Kiely was brilliant in his win over David O’Mahony at Ballinacurra. At Whitechurch, Éamon Bowen had mixed luck against Michael Harrington and Edmond Sexton who meet on Monday in the senior championship. Harrington easily beat him, but he hit better form when beating Sexton.

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