SEAMUS O'TUAMA: Coppinger, Murphy set for a classic

The clash of Martin Coppinger and David Murphy in Sunday’s Munster senior semi-final at Ballygurteen has quickly shifted bowling fans’ attention towards next month’s second All-Ireland series in Port Mór-Blackwatertown.

Coppinger has built momentum as the championship progressed, having recovered from a serious leg injury. He was awesome against Raymond Ryan in the quarter-final at Caheragh and there is little doubt he is primed for what is the biggest score of the year.

The focus on Coppinger and Murphy offers cover to both Brian Wilmot and Gary Daly who meet the previous day at Newcestown in the other semi-final. The winner of that score will be seeking a first senior title, but on their day either could present plenty of challenges to the two bigger names.

Wilmot is very much at home at Newcestown. His confidence should be high too given his impressive win over Christy Mullins in the quarter-final. Daly is still troubled by a calf injury, which is bound to impact on him, though he managed to get past Éamon Bowen Jnr at Fermoy in his quarter-final.

In that score he just shaded the opening tips. Bowen got poor second and third shots, which gave Daly a bowl of odds at the concrete. He made light at Savage’s corner in two more where he had well over a bowl. It took him three more to Spillane’s, where Bowen was unlucky to miss light to level the score. Daly restored his bowl odds with two good shots to Fenton’s and held that lead to the line.

The Ulster senior final between Peadar Toal and former champion Eddie Carr will be played over the All-Ireland course at Port Mór on Sunday.

Toal is gifted with the same high octane bowling that saw his brother Cathal win the All-Ireland intermediate title at Whitechurch on Sunday. Next Sunday’s venue is not as conducive to speed though and he will need to temper his bowling with a lot of finesse to beat Carr.

Carr has been off the radar in recent years, but at one point was seen as the heir apparent to Michael Toal. He had a brilliant semi-final win over Thomas Mackle and Martin Toal, but his earlier form was patchy.

The undercard for the August weekend will take a lot more shape over the next two weeks. In Munster the Junior B men and the veteran championships are reaching their conclusions, with Chris O’Donovan still in both races. He will face rising star Kieran Murphy in the Junior B final.

Murphy beat Cian Boyle by over a bowl at Donoughmore on Monday. Boyle shaded the first two tips and might have been further in front but Murphy’s second got a nice rub. Murphy got a great third towards the Bounds to win his first lead. He then beat a big bowl from Boyle and followed with another good one to hold 40m odds facing Ring’s.

Boyle hit a wall at Ring’s and only made the halfway line with his next to fall a bowl behind. Murphy held the bowl onto the straight. He got a massive bowl on the straight, but Boyle kept the lead in check till he missed light at the nooks. That ended the contest.

On Saturday Chris O’Donovan beat Timmy McDonagh in the other semi-final at Killumney. He just shaded the opening exchange, but McDonagh got great second and third shots to gain a 40m lead. O’Donovan led again with a good fourth shot. McDonagh got another great bowl to Blackbird’s lane to go back in front by a metre.

O’Donovan regained control with two good bowls from there. McDonagh hit back with a great bowl to O’Shea’s corner to cut the lead to a metre. O’Donovan picked up the pace again though and when McDonagh made a mistake at the novice line he went almost a bowl in front. He kept that lead to the line.

On Friday O’Donovan plays Andy O’Callaghan in Munster Veteran I final at Clondrohid. That venue has suffered during this hot spell, so if it’s not playable the final will be moved to The Mons. The Veteran II final is also on Friday at Bweeng between Kevin O’Donovan and Willie Cronin.

In Ulster the Junior B final is between Malachy Lappin and Raymond Grimley. Joe Shortt and Anthony O’Neill contest the veteran final at Blackwatertown.

The Munster under-12 championship is down to the last four. At Glanworth Darragh Kiely plays Jake O’Brien and at Kildee Colm Crowley plays Jason Connolly.

Michael Bohane scorched to the line in 15 incredible bowls at Ballincurrig where he beat John Shorten in the Jim O’Driscoll Cup. Shorten got two massive opening bowls well past Moore’s gate. Bohane hit the front with his third; he was out the big corner in ten and scored the line in five more.


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