SEAMUS O'TUAMA: Toal champion of Ulster after edging never-say-die Mackle

Cathal Toal is Ulster senior champion after beating Thomas Mackle in the last shot of a close, if slightly low-key final at Knappagh on Sunday.

Mackle opened with a great bowl to win the first tip well but his form dipped in his next three. Toal gained a foothold and drove almost two bowls clear after three good shots to the bridge. Mackle cut the odds with a big bowl through the cross and got an exceptional shot to Farley’s to cut the odds to 60m. Toal pushed his lead out to almost a bowl after a fine shot to the plum trees. Mackle didn’t respond strongly and looked to be falling out of contention as they approached the Condy corner. Toal was lucky to get peeping sight there to hold the upper hand. Mackle could only make sight with his next, but Toal beat that tip by just 30m for the last throw.

Mackle put down a big last shot that wheeled perfectly with the road and presented Toal with a formidable tip. He responded courageously with a perfectly played bowl that beat the mark by two metres. He’s now in the All-Ireland final where he’ll play the winner of next Sunday’s Munster final between Christy Mullins and Aidan Murphy at Whitechurch.

Elsewhere, Thomas Boyle is Munster Junior B champion after leading from start to finish in a two bowls of odds win against Jimmy Cowhig at Baile Mhúirne.

Boyle just edged the first two shots to Twomey’s cross. He increased his lead with his third, but missed a chance to go further clear past O’Donovan’s. Cowhig levelled with a great bowl to sight. Boyle made Cnoc an Úir cross with his next to take 30m odds to 30m and doubled his odds to Desmond’s.

He then beat a great shot from Cowhig to stay 40m fore at Healy’s cross. Cowhig followed with another good bowl to leave just five metres between them facing the slippery rock. All changed when Cowhig missed sight at the rock and Boyle went out to go almost a bowl clear. Boyle raised the bowl with his next past Moore’s.

He extended his lead well over a bowl with his shot past Murphy’s. He had almost two bowls at O’Donoghue’s. He had two bowls in full after his shot over the bridge and Cowhig conceded.

Willie O’Donovan beat Gavin Twohig by almost two bowls at Killumney in the Munster intermediate championship. The winner opened with a big bowl, which gave him a 50m start as Twohig misplayed his first. The latter cut the odds with his second, but O’Donovan was 70m fore after a great bowl past the wind. Twohig levelled to the bend before the cul-de-sac.

O’Donovan got a big shot to the cul-de-sac to go almost a bowl clear. He followed with a massive bowl to sight at the next bend, but Twohig beat it to keep the lead under a bowl. A nice rub to the forestry raised the bowl for O’Donovan.

Twohig hit back with a brilliant bowl to Connie’s corner to bring the lead under a bowl again. O’Donovan regained momentum with a razor tight bowl through the bend to edge towards a bowl again. He regained the bowl with his next and pushed close to two with his following shot.

PJ Cooney advanced in the intermediate too by beating Wayne Callanan by almost a bowl at Bweeng. He made sight with his first and Callanan just beat it by 20m in two. He held most of his lead without excelling to the Tinny House. He raised the bowl with a big shot past the high lawn and held that lead to the novice line and increased his odds with his next.

Callanan got a tremendous shot past the junior line to knock the bowl, but Cooney raised it again with his next. It looked over when Cooney led by 150m over a bowl facing the line. Callanan then got an exceptional bowl that went well past the line. Cooney kept focus by beating the line, though he was well shy of Callanan’s tip.

Patrick Butler beat Mick Hurley by two bowls in the East Cork West Waterford Junior A final at Ballincurrig.

Hurley had a good lead after two, but he was too tight with his shot past Moore’s gate. Butler led at the green and they beat the no-play line level on seven each. Hurley led the shots onto the long straight, but he was too tight with his next and Butler pounced to go a bowl clear to the big corner. Hurley didn’t make the top of the short straight with his next and Butler extended his lead to two bowls in the run-in.

Peter Nagle beat Billy McAuliffe in a dramatic last shot in the Munster Junior A at the same venue. McAuliffe played a brilliant last bowl that went well into the green and though Nagle’s bowl looked a bit right, it came off the tarmac and beat the tip by 10 metres.

Jarlath Devil narrowly beat Pat Mallon in the Ulster veteran final while his son David knocked Mark Toal out of the Ulster u18 championship. The shock of the season, however, was Shea Gamble’s win over Colm Rafferty in the other semi-final.

Trevor O’Meara eliminated Brian Wilmot from the King of the Roads when he beat him by almost two bowls at Ballincurrig.


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