SEAMUS O'TUAMA: Toal comes out of retirement to play Mullins in CoAction feature

Next Sunday at Skibbereen, Michael Toal returns from retirement to play Christy Mullins in the feature score of a benefit weekend for CoAction.

Given this is likely Toal’s last official outing in Cork, it will draw massive interest. He leads the national roll of honour as the only man to win 10 All-Ireland senior championships. Persistent injury forced him to retire before the 2010 championship. He has only played a single official fixture since, a benefit at Knappagh against Martin Coppinger in May. He won his first All-Ireland senior final in 1988, just a year after winning the U18 title. He quickly established himself as one of the greatest bowlers and unquestionably the greatest Ulster bowler.

Sidney Shannon rolled back the years at Derrinasafa where he easily beat Trevor Deane in the last shot of the Teddy Kelly Cup final. He won the first two tips, but Deane shaded the third by a metre. They both got brilliant fourth shots to the bridge, with Deane still just fore. Deane followed up with two good bowls to make peeping sight at Ross to increase his lead. Shannon rallied with two super bowls past Cotter’s cross where he led again by 25m.

He increased his lead in the following shots towards the Darkwood turn. Deane missed sight with his next and Shannon opened the bend well with his reply. He pushed his lead to 120m with two more good throws up the rise past Dwyer’s. Deane got back into contention with a huge 14th bowl, which Shannon narrowly missed.

Shannon bounced back with a great bowl towards the line. Deane played his reply to the right and missed that tip by 70m. Deane’s last bowl was not sufficient to trouble Shannon.

Richie Harnedy’s is the first name on the John O’Driscoll Cup after his win over Pat Daly and Finbarr Coughlan in the inaugural final at Durrus. The cup honours the late John O’Driscoll, a principal of the Durrus club for 40 years.

Harnedy came out best of the three good opening bowls, but was not to lead again until the last throw. Daly played his second bowl slightly right, but it settled perfectly and traced the wind all the way to Blair’s Cove. That put him 70m clear of both his opponents. He lost most of his lead with a poor third, but compensated with a brilliant fourth to the cottage to go 70m clear again. He defended his lead by beating a big fifth from Coughlan.

Daly continued to set the pace up the rise to the wire, where he was a bowl clear of both Coughlan and Harnedy. He failed to build on this when both of his next two shots veered right. Harnedy launched a rally, which gained traction when he got a brilliant bowl to Ward’s Cross. He followed with an equally good one to sight at the last bend. Coughlan fell out of contention by missing sight there, but Daly beat the tip by 20 to hold the lead. Harnedy completed a brilliant comeback with a great last shot in the left track that went well past the line. Daly’s reply drifted right and fell well short of the mark.

Thomas Boyle and Billy Cahill won the Finbarr Walsh doubles final at Carraig na bhFear where they beat Éamon Bowen and Stephen Cahill by three bowls. The winners dominated from the off and were already a bowl clear after five to Daunt’s. They held that lead to the creamery cross. Poor form from Bowen and Cahill from there put them out of contention.

In the B section final, Michael Barry and Thomas Connolly had a comfortable two bowls of odds win over Michael Sheehan and Tom Downey.

At Grenagh, David Hubbard beat Michael Murphy by a bowl. He was leading by two bowls, till Murphy came with a late surge. Liam Scannell reversed his William Wolfe Memorial semi-final defeat when he beat John Donnellan by a bowl at the Bog Road. At Béal na mBláth, Florence O’Sullivan and PJ McCarthy won the first of two doubles, with Ger O’Donovan and Shane Desmond reversing the result in the second.

Maurizo della Constanta made history by becoming the first Italian to be elected President of the International Bowlplaying Association — the world governing body. He will preside over the 15th European Championships in the Netherlands in 2016. He takes over from Irishman James O’Driscoll, who concluded his four-year term by unveiling a statue to the doyen of Dutch bowling, Cornelis Smal.

Pat Mallon became a member of the Ulster Hall of Fame last weekend. He won an emotional All-Ireland senior final at Blackwatertown in 1979 against Johnny Creedon in the first final in Armagh since the start of the Troubles in 1969. He also won Intermediate, Junior B and C and three Veteran finals.


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