SEAMUS O'TUAMA: A week to remember for rising star Darragh Kiely

Darragh Kiely is the standout player of the past week, having won three critical scores in quick succession, culminating in the All-Ireland U18 final.

It was an exceptional achievement to reach the pitch of a competitive All-Ireland just three days after winning the Munster final and a Munster semi-final two days before that.

 For a seasoned player this would have been an incredibly demanding schedule, but for an underage bowler it’s nothing short of phenomenal.

He was slow out of the blocks in the All-Ireland final at Madden against hot favourite Eoin Hughes. The Ulster champion got a brilliant first past McMullen’s to raise almost a bowl. 

He lost odds with his second, but bounced back to raise a bowl after three great shots to the bus shelter. 

Kiely narrowly missed sight with a good bowl to the pipe corner, which left Hughes still almost a bowl in front.

Hughes got a perfect cush to the chapel. 

Kiely’s bowl hopped the kerb and he was now well over a bowl behind. 

He showed character by playing two serious bowls to the dip to snatch the lead. 

Hughes then played a huge 15th to cut the odds to five metres. 

He regained the lead with his next, when Kiely’s bowl cannoned off a pothole.

Kiely had to find reserves to intensify his challenge in the closing stages. 

The first act was a sensational bowl to the last bend. Hughes missed the bend. 

He found himself a bowl adrift when Kiely closed with two more super throws.

On the previous Wednesday, Kiely beat David Horgan by a bowl in the Munster final at Templemartin.

He took a while to find his rhythm. 

He shaded the early shots, but Horgan led with his third to Desmond’s lane. The tide changed though when Kiely got a super fifth from the cottage to sight at Slyne’s corner. 

That put him a shot clear and he comfortably held that to the line. On Monday night he beat 2014 All-Ireland u14 champion Conor Creedon in the Munster semi-final at Crookstown.

Sunday’s dramatic All-Ireland senior women’s final, demonstrates the perilous vicissitudes of sport and how things change in a flash. 

Geraldine Daly had done everything right to win her first senior final against Kelly Mallon, arguably Europe’s best bowler. 

At the last bend she led by just over a bowl. She probably went for safe play with her next and Mallon hit with an Exocet.

A player of Mallon’s calibre is always dangerous. Her last bowl raced down the hollow, past the line and up the rise. The rest is history. 

In Mallon’s case she became the first woman to win three successive senior All-Irelands, she notched up her sixth title and is now just one behind Gretta Cormican in the all-time roll of honour.

Maria Nagle completed an All-Ireland three-in-a-row too when she won the Girls u18 final. 

It adds up to an exceptional year as she won the European gold medal in May.

Peter Nagle’s Junior A win turned the clock back to his glory underage days. In 1992 he won both the u14 and u16 All-Irelands, no one thought he would not win his third for almost a quarter of a century. 

Gavin Twohig bridged a twelve year gap when he won the Intermediate final and joined an exclusive club of six two time winners.

Eoin O’Donovan had a mixed week. 

On Tuesday he won the Munster u14 final against Anthony Lynch at Templemartin. He opened with a brilliant bowl to the school-house cross and was a bowl clear before Collins’ wall. 

He was two clear at the cornfield gap and raised a third before the line.

On Sunday morning he suffered defeat to Patrick Carr in the All-Ireland final. O’Donovan led after a great eighth to Barrett’s. Carr hit back with a brilliant shot to the pipe corner to edge a shot clear. 

O’Donovan played a great bowl from there, but it was blocked. That left him two behind and Carr out of reach.

Séamus Sexton has carried his championship form through to the Mick Barry Cup as he moved a step closer to King of the Roads with a good win over Michael Bohane at Ballincurrig.

Sexton missed the no-play line with his fifth, but Bohane didn’t take advantage.

Bohane challenged strongly to O’Riordan’s. Sexton moved up a few gears by opening the big corner in three from there. 

Bohane narrowly missed the big corner in 11 to leave him almost two bowls behind. 

He closed the gap to the sycamores, but Sexton pushed his lead out to two bowls to the last bend.

Paddy O’Donoghue finished the stronger to edge Seán Murphy in the Jim O’Driscoll Cup also at Ballincurrig.

Denis Wilmot and David Hubbard gave five star performances at Tassagh. Wilmot beat Ruairí O’Reilly by three bowls and Hubbard was three clear of Eugene Kiernan at the plum trees.

Jim Coffey survived a call on his last to beat Seán Donnelly by centimetres.


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