SEAMUS O'TUAMA: Munster semi-finals taking centre stage

The Munster senior championship will dominate bowling for the next few weeks, starting with both semi-finals at the weekend.

Gary Daly and James O’Donovan clash at Kilcorney on Saturday in the first semi-final. This could be the most important score of the 2015 campaign. It will give the winner a live prospect of winning his first title. Although the two big names, Martin Coppinger and David Murphy, are in the other side of the draw, neither has really sparked to date.

Victory would give Saturday’s winner a lot of momentum. O’Donovan has already accounted for last year’s champion Aidan Murphy. Another big win would certainly bolster his hopes of a first senior title, but he will have to be at his best. Daly is probably the slightly bigger hitter, if he strings a few big ones together he would be very hard to dislodge.

Sunday’s clash of David Murphy and Martin Coppinger at Ballygurteen looks the bigger semi-final on paper, They contested the 2013 semi-final at the same venue on a day that belonged to Coppinger from start to finish. He hasn’t produced that level of performance yet this term and was slow to take control in his quarter-final win over James Buckley at Baile Bhuirne.

Murphy got a walkover from Éamon Bowen in the quarter-final. He has two injuries. How serious they are will become evident pretty quickly.

Remember James Buckley went into last year’s King of the Roads with similar injury doubts, yet he gave two outstanding performances.

Conscious of his limits Murphy might go for less speed and more accuracy, which could be an alternative route to the final.

Cian Boyle advanced to the Munster Junior B semi-final with a comprehensive win over Paul Butler at Newcestown. He led from the off and was a bowl in front at Mac’s Cross.

He raised a second at Desmond’s lane and added a third in the shots to O’Brien’s Cross. He plays Noel O’Donovan tonight at Ardcahan.

O’Donovan had too much power for Brendan O’Callaghan in his quarter-final at Kilcorney. He opened with a massive bowl to Healy’s, which O’Callaghan missed in two. He increased his lead with his second past the garage and he had almost two bowls after his third to Cooney’s

He had two clear bowls after three more to Coleman’s bridge. He held that lead for the rest of the score and O’Callaghan conceded with two to go.

Pat Callanan and Damien Murphy meet in the other semi-final at Jagoes Mills on Saturday.

Trevor O’Meara bowled impressively to beat Patrick O’Donoghue by a bowl in the Jim O’Driscoll Cup at Ballincurrig. He had a big lead after two good shots towards Moore’s gate. He continued to increase his odds and when O’Donoghue hit the creamery wall he was a bowl clear. They took two each to pass the no-play line.

O’Meara comfortably held his lead to the sycamores. He played his bowl too low on the left there, but O’Donoghue didn’t take the opening. O’Meara then cruised home.

Michael Gould beat Kieran O’Driscoll by a bowl in the Munster Junior veteran semi-final at Templemartin.

They were level for the first two, but O’Driscoll pulled clear in the shots to Slyne’s corner. Gould cut the lead with a great bowl there. O’Driscoll picked up the pace again to the schoolhouse cross where he was almost a bowl in front.

O’Driscoll’s form dipped dramatically from there, while Gould raised his game. Gould was almost a bowl in front at Buttimer’s.

He kept that lead in the closing shots, but when he missed the line with his second last O’Driscoll had a small chance.

He didn’t take that though and just came to Gould’s tip.

In the final Gould plays the winner of tonight’s semi-final between Dan O’Halloran and Eugene O’Sullivan at Clondrohid.

Paddy Kinsella and Kevin O’Donovan meet in the Munster novice veteran final tonight at Curraheen.

Last weekend’s All-Ireland series ended 4-2 in favour of Munster, but there is little doubt that Ulster fans went home very happy with the two biggest wins, intermediate men and senior women.

The margin between victory and defeat can be very tight and both those titles hinged on tiny miscalculations.

In the intermediate final Michael Bohane played both of his first two shots to the left. By contrast Paul O’Reilly got the perfect first shot to go a bowl clear. While a good start is important it is no guarantee of success.

Bohane launched a sustained assault on the lead with his third bowl, but O’Reilly never gave him a real opening to get back in the frame.

The senior women’s final was almost a mirror opposite. Here Catriona O’Farrell-Kidney got a magnificent opening shot, but lost it all with a poor second. Kelly Mallon does not need too many such invitations.

Once she took control she tightened her grip and there was going to be no way back.

Paul Buckley crowned a great season with his Junior A win over Malachy Lappin.

It is a testament to the good work being done at youth level in Munster that the three underage titles stayed south of the border, Alex O’Donovan U18 boys, Veronica O’Mahony U18 girls and James Hickey U14 boys.



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