Bowen and McGuigan set for intriguing battle

Conor McGuigan and Éamon Bowen clash in a fascinating All-Ireland intermediate bowling final on Sunday, in the feature score of the second All-Ireland series at Tullysaran in Armagh.

Bowen and McGuigan set for intriguing battle

By Séamus Ó Tuama

Conor McGuigan and Éamon Bowen clash in a fascinating All-Ireland intermediate bowling final on Sunday, in the feature score of the second All-Ireland series at Tullysaran in Armagh.

McGuigan was a comprehensive winner of the Ulster final, totally dismissing James Oliver. He brings with him a history of success, causing one of the greatest upsets in bowling history in 2011 when he beat David Murphy by almost three bowls of odds in the All-Ireland senior final on the Markethill Road.

That was on a day when Murphy got a dream start, but McGuigan was unfazed, storming back to take control.

McGuigan not only retained the senior title in 2012, but pushed Martin Coppinger to the last shot of an epic All-Ireland final at Derrinasafa, as the lead changed eight times.

While Éamon Bowen is flying high after a splendid run through Munster, McGuigan is an incredible competitor and will raise the psychological stakes when the chips are down.

Bowen is a gifted athlete, but he will need to be totally focused to win this one.

In the Junior A final, by coincidence, both John O’Rourke and Seán Donnelly will be bidding for a second All-Ireland title, both having had previous success at U12.

O’Rourke won the inaugural title in Armagh in 1998 and Donnelly won the 2002 final. Both have had good days since, but a second All-Ireland has eluded them.

O’Rourke was an impressive winner of the Munster title and the big challenge for him will be to adapt his style of play to the pristine, smooth surface at Tassagh.

This is made for low, fast bowls with plenty of reward for accuracy. O’Rourke is gifted with class and should be able to adjust but Donnelly has a massive advantage in knowledge of the road.

He won the Ulster final here and has all the requisites to go one step further. This may boil down to a test of temperament.

Kelly Mallon will contest a record ninth consecutive All-Ireland senior final when she faces Munster champion Carmel Ryan.

It is her tenth senior final, having won seven, only losing in 2013 to Ryan and the previous year to Catriona O’Farrell-Kidney.

Ryan will be bidding for her fourth All-Ireland, having recently won her eighth Munster crown.

In the girls U18 final Hannah Sexton and Geraldine Kiernan meet in a repeat of last year’s U16 final at Madden.

Sexton won that by almost two bowls. She was caught on the line in this year’s U16 final at Grenagh by Shannon Maguire, so she will not suffer from complacency.

In the boys U18 final Ronan Toal is the latest of the greatest bowling dynasty to contest an All-Ireland final.

He is lightning fast, but not always as accurate.

He faces an impressive Munster champion in Colm McLoughlin, who defeated last year’s u16 champion Jordan O’Sullivan.

In the Ulster U14 final Niall Stevenson proved a worthy winner over Cathal Maguire.

Jamie Kelleher had to come from behind against Darragh Dempsey, to win the Munster U14 final in Templemartin.

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