SEAMUS O'TUAMA: Impressive Mackle back on the winning trail at Shannonvale

Ulster champion Thomas Mackle beat Christy Mullins on Sunday in the feature score of the benefit festival for the cancer unit at Cork University Hospital in Shannonvale.

It was the perfect rebound after his All-Ireland senior final defeat the previous week. It also brought the curtain down on an 11-score event, over two days, which raised €5,000 for the CUH unit.

He opened with a good shot, which Mullins missed by playing his bowl to the left. Mullins recovered immediately with a good second shot to the top of the hill and he was in front after three more to the quarry. They reached Desmond’s line in eight with Mackle back in front.

Neither player could hit a knockout shot to Sam’s lane. Mackle then produced a massive bowl across the straight that put him a shot clear. He held that lead to the line.

Earlier, Peter Nagle played a brilliant last shot to snatch victory from Jimmy O’Driscoll. On Saturday, Johnny O’Driscoll beat John Cahalane in the last shot of the feature score.

Wayne Callanan will contest the Jim O’Driscoll Cup Cork final after beating PJ Cooney by close to two bowls at Ballincurrig. Callanan had a big lead facing the no-play line, but Cooney levelled with a massive bowl past the line from the creamery.

Cooney’s good work unravelled when he got a short shot from the line and missed O’Riordan’s with his next. That left him a bowl behind, and he never recovered. Callanan plays Michael Bohane and a second qualifier in the opening day of King and Queen of the Roads.

Focus over the coming weeks will be on next month’s All-Ireland series in Drogheda. Michael Barry is just one win away from leading the Munster team after beating Colin O’Donovan in the Junior C semi-final at Donoughmore. He exploited O’Donovan’s three poor openers to go a bowl in front. O’Donovan’s bowl to Ring’s corner was unlucky, which left him well off the pace. Barry grew in confidence into the score. He scorched to the line in 13 shots at which point he was almost two bowls clear.

Earlier, in the quarter-final, O’Donovan had a similar winning margin over Conor O’Sullivan at Reenascreena. He delivered a sensational second shot to lead by almost a bowl. O’Sullivan closed the gap, but O’Donovan’s speed pushed him clear in the second half.

The second semi-final between Sean Twomey and Aidan Desmond will be played at Templemichael on Sunday, with the winner meeting Barry at either Whitechurch or Baile Bhuirne.

In the Munster Novice I race, Connie Connolly’s fairytale continued with a great win over Finbarr Coomey at Reenascreena. He now faces Daniel Murphy in the semi-final at Ballinacurra.

Connolly’s craft paid huge dividends at Reenascreena. He delivered two really sharp bowls into the tight left track to raise a bowl after three. Coomey fought on but his last chance evaporated when he failed to take an opening at O’Sullivan’s.

Daniel Murphy showed a lot of class in his quarter-final win over Adrian Callanan at Ballincurrig. He was a bowl clear after six great shots past the no-play line and controlled the rest of the score.

Ger O’Driscoll and Gareth Bourke meet in the other semi-final at Macroom. Bourke beat one of the major youth talents, Shane Shannon, by two bowls at Togher Cross in the quarter-final.

O’Driscoll beat Oliver Searls in his quarter-final at Béal na Marbh. He got a brilliant start to go a bowl clear and he pushed his lead close two bowls. Searls finished strongly, but he could not bridge the gap.

Searls had already beaten Denis P Bradley by a bowl in the previous round at Donoughmore. He took control of that score at the bounds.

Darren Whooley advanced to the Munster Novice II semi-final when he beat Seán Kiely in the last shot at Togher Cross. He was leading by 20m with three shots to go when light stopped play the previous week. He immediately built on that lead on the resumption.

His semi-final opponent will be either Seán Nyhan or David Crowley who meet at Béal na Marbh. Crowley ended Waterford’s hope of a 2015 All-Ireland title when he beat Aidan Sexton by a bowl at Donoughmore. His great fourth shot catapulted him clear.

Peter Kelly and Michael Twohig contest the other semi-final at Crookstown. Kelly was an impressive winner over Diarmuid Murphy at Reenascreena. His six sensational shots, four to the cross, followed by two to O’Sullivan’s sealed that score. Twohig also performed well in his win over George Stapelton at Ballincurrig.

The North American team took shape too at last weekend’s three-day novice championships at Buckhannon in West Virginia. Both of the novice winners for Drogheda come from the host state. Stephen Wallington from Huntington is Novice I champion and Travis McClintic from Lewisburg is Novice II champion.

In Leinster, Gary Shevlin is the Novice I champion and Peter Clinton is the Novice II representative. The Junior C final is between Alan Long and Graham Sexton.


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