Martin Coppinger is out of the King of the Roads. He suffered a serious foot injury while training, which will require surgery and puts him out of bowling until 2019.
This is a huge personal blow as he had been doing the best bowling of his career in Ballincurrig in the Mick Barry Cup.
He broke and then equalled the road record in successive rounds and he equalled the record to the no-play line.
It was all positives for him and it fed an almost unprecedented level of anticipation among bowling followers ahead of his semi-final clash with David Murphy and Mark Muntel in the opening semi-final.
He rubbished the idea that he could not handle Ballincurrig and in many people’s mind he was the man to beat in 2018.
He won King of the Roads in 2012, but was eliminated in his semi-final with Aidan Murphy the following year when his last bowl hit a ball-hitch. He won two senior All-Ireland finals since that defeat, 2013 and 2017, but a second King of the Roads has eluded him. This year he put a huge level of preparation into the event, which showed in his performances.
2018 had additional significance for Coppinger as his close friend Brian Daly tragically died earlier this year.
Given Daly’s close connection with both King of the Roads and Coppinger, there was a feeling that had Coppinger gone all the way, his win would have been dedicated to his friend.
Coppinger’s place will now be taken by the winner of a play-off next Sunday at Ballincurrig between the two Mick Barry Cup beaten semi-finalists, Arthur McDonagh and Colm Rafferty.