The line-up and draw for Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads 2018 were resolved on Saturday when Killian Kingston beat Colm Rafferty in the last of the Mick Barry Cup semi-final at Ballincurrig.
Neither player reached the heights of the previous rounds. In the end, one poor shot, combined with bizarre bad luck almost certainly denied Rafferty. He looked to have the simplest of second-last shots to make light. He completely misplayed his bowl to the left, it hit a walking stick and stopped dead.
It was the most unlikely turn of events at King of the Roads since Martin Coppinger’s last bowl hit the ball-hitch of a parked vehicle in the 2013 semi-final against Aidan Murphy.
Kingston had 60 metres after a great second past Moore’s. Rafferty closed the gap with a good third into the green. He won the lead with a great fifth shot past the no-play line.
Kingston ran on the right and lofted his towards the line, but it fell left 15 shy of the target. He limited the damage with a good sixth bowl to Heaphy’s.
They both then got two poor shots in succession onto the long straight with Rafferty holding the upper hand. Kingston cut the odds to two metres with a great bowl to Leahy’s.
They both just missed the big corner with good 10th shots. Rafferty was still five metres fore after 11 to sight. There was less than a metre between them after 12 to the top of the short straight.
Kingston played his next across to the left and missed Din Tough’s.
Rafferty went out to take a decisive lead. Kingston did well with his next to the end of the sycamores, but it all looked futile when Rafferty went to just short of the elbow. Kingston missed sight with his 15th. Rafferty was in total control, till he played his ill-fated bowl across to the left and he was suddenly hind bowl.
Kingston won the next exchange by 30m, but Rafferty still had a chance. His last bowl was always too far right. Kingston played a wide bowl into the green to secure his place in the King of the Roads.
The subsequent semi-final sees All-Ireland champion David Murphy paired with Dutch champion Mark Muntel and Martin Coppinger, who broke the road record in the qualifiers.
Thomas Mackle, who is bidding to win the first four-in-a-row, faces German champion Harm Weinstock and Killian Kingston in the second semi-final.
John O’Rourke beat Paul Buckley in the last shot of the Jim O’Driscoll Cup to also claim his place in the festival weekend.
He won the first two shots, but missed a chance to go clear with his third. He regained odds in the next two and had a big lead after Buckley missed the no-play line in six. He lost ground again when he failed to make O’Riordan’s in two more.
Buckley kept pressing and was just fore at Leahy’s. They were out the big corner in 12. O’Rourke looked to have gained control in the shots up the short straight, but he only made the muddy gap with his next. He kept a decent lead to the sycamores and was still well fore for the last shot. Buckley missed the line with his last throw.
Mick Hurley advanced at the expense of Denis Wilmot in the John-Joe Murphy Cup at Bauravilla.
Wilmot made a great start in this one, reaching the netting in four to raise a bowl of odds. Hurley cut that lead to just 20m with a brilliant bowl past Dekkers. Little changed in the next two to the rock. Wilmot raised big odds with his next and looked set to raise a bowl by opening the bridge in two more.
Hurley rallied with a big shot to the railing, which Wilmot beat by just 10 metres. He held that slender lead past the bridge. Hurley then played a sensational bowl over the brow to win a big lead. He drove on strongly to the line.
Jerry Gibbons beat Andrew O’Callaghan in the last shot at Lyre.
They were level after eleven to Crowley’s. O’Callaghan missed a chance to make there in 10, but took a good lead by reaching McCarthy’s bend in two more. He led to the second last where he had 40m odds. Gibbons closed with a big shot, which O’Callaghan missed by 10 metres.
Jimmy O’Driscoll beat Craig Moynihan in the feature score of the Irish Heart Foundation benefit series at Pouladuff.
At Grange, David O’Mahony beat Tim Young in last shot of the Champy Deasy Cup semi-final.
At The Clubhouse, Ted Hegarty reached his second Munster final of 2018 when he beat Jimmy Collins by two bowls in the Munster Vintage (over-60) A semi-final while Claire O’Sullivan beat Veronica O’Mahony in the last shot of the Gretta Cormican Cup final at Killumney.