David Murphy secured his place in the Munster senior championship semi-final, after a gripping contest with Martin Coppinger, at Baile Mhuirne, on Sunday.
Murphy now plays James O’Donovan, in next Sunday’s semi-final at Béal na mBláth. Arthur McDonagh and Michael Harrington meet in the other semi-final, on Friday, at Ballinagree.
Coppinger battled hard to stay on track to retain his Munster and All-Ireland titles, but only intermittently produced his best. Both struggled to find a winning rhythm in the first half of the score, but, in the last quarter, Murphy had the sharpness to get through.
Coppinger won the opening shot well and would have kept a solid lead, but for his second bowl being accidently blocked.
Murphy pushed clear with a big shot past Roche’s, but Coppinger regained the lead with his next. The lead changed hands at both of the next two tips to Scannell’s, where Coppinger had 40m odds.
Coppinger got a big eighth shot to go 100m fore at Herlihy’s cross. Murphy misplayed his next bowl, left into the boreen, and was now almost a bowl behind. Coppinger was more consistent to the council yard, with Murphy making some uncharacteristic mistakes.
Coppinger had a chance to consolidate his lead there, but lofted to the left and his bowl fell left, a metre hind of Murphy’s tip. Coppinger regained the lead with his next and beat a big 14th from Murphy to lead by 40m at Moynihan’s.
Murphy played a brilliant 15th to the piggeries to regain the lead by 50m. He showed real finesse, with a beautiful 17th around the wind at Ó Riada’s. Coppinger just beat that with his 18th. Murphy kept his lead close to a bowl with his next to McSweeney’s and played what looked a score winner past Dónall Bán’s.
Coppinger delayed any coronation with a good reply. Murphy then made sight with another great bowl, but it was called.
He was only at the start of the bend, after his second attempt. He could not be denied, though. He played another perfectly balanced bowl that spun to full sight of the line and took his lead to almost a bowl.
Ulster champion, Bryan O’Reilly, is also out of the 2018 race. He was beaten by Cathal Toal in the opening score of the senior championship, at Knappagh.
O’Reilly gained a good lead after four. He scorned a chance to go a bowl clear at the planting corner, but he kept the lead to Farley’s. Toal won the lead with a big tenth shot, but needed a rub to stay level in the shots to the Condy corner. O’Reilly’s form dipped dramatically from there to Stewart’s bridge, where he was almost two bowls behind. Toal wasn’t at his best, either, and struggled to hold a bowl of odds to the line at Brannigan’s.
Toal plays Paul O’Reilly in the Ulster semi-final. Hot favourite, Thomas Mackle, plays his first cousin, Colm Rafferty, in another quarter-final, next Sunday, with the winner meeting their uncle, Martin Toal, in the semi-final.
The Munster senior women’s championship is also taking shape. The two semi-finalists from Group A are Aileen Murphy and Meghan Collins. Collins secured her place by beating Murphy in her last group score at Shannonvale. Murphy led by a bowl after six to the quarry and held it to Desmond’s. Collins cut the odds to 20m, with three big bowls to Kingston’s and she led with her next. It was a mighty battle from there, with Collins taking it with a big last shot.
In Group B, defending champion, Carmel Ryan, Emma Fitzpatrick, and Clare O’Sullivan are all in the mix for the two semi-final spots. Fitzpatrick has three wins and both Ryan and O’Sullivan are on two. They meet next Sunday. If Ryan wins both, she and Fitzpatrick advance. If O’Sullivan wins, she will be on three, but Ryan could still force a three-way play-off by beating Fitzpatrick in her last score.
Denis Cooney is East Cork-Waterford junior A champion, holding the title won by his brother, James, in 2017. He beat Terry Sexton by two bowls, at Ballincurrig. He got one of the longest opening shots on record. He was a bowl clear after six to the no-play line and he had two bowls at the big corner.
Other brothers on the march are Michael and Andrew O’Leary. Andrew is through to the veteran (junior) semi-final, after beating Brendan O’Callaghan at Berrings. Michael caused a major upset, when he beat hot favourite, Scott Callanan, in the junior B championship, at Carraig na bhFear. Daniel Murphy also advanced in the junior B, beating Humphrey O’Leary, at Crookstown.
Ian Callanan beat John Cahalane by almost a bowl in the South-West Junior A semi-final, at Lyre. He was in front after three, past the forestry entrance. He was still leading after another three to the tunnel. He reached Crowley’s bend in another three to go a shot clear. Cahalane cut the odds to the crossover, but Callanan pushed clear again to McCarthy’s bend and finished strongly.
Craig Moynihan beat Anthony Gould in the Cork City junior A semi-final, at Templemichael. At Berrings, Dean Sexton beat Denis O’Regan in the North Cork junior B final.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved