Ben Cooney wafted a wave of optimism into bowling by winning the first Munster final since the Covid-19 lockdown last year.
His win at Carraig na bhFear epitomised everything hopeful in a sport struggling to find its feet. This was the Boys U12 final, normally no more than a ripple but now a tide-turner. Cooney seized the moment with bowling of poise and style in a mesmerising combination of youth and optimism. His opponent, David O’Riordan, rose to the challenge too to make a score to remember.
Cooney’s sensational first shot opened the bend.
He raised a bowl with an equally good second. He followed with three perfect throws to light at Daunt’s to go almost three clear. He raised the third bowl with his next.
Then we saw the best of O’Riordan. He knocked the third bowl with a great shot up the hill and only conceded it again in the closing acts.
At Templemartin, champion Carmel Carey beat Claire O’Sullivan in the 2020 Munster Senior Championship. Neither player reached their best. O’Sullivan won the first. Carey took the second and looked to be gaining control until O’Sullivan levelled with a big fifth to Slyne’s.
They blew hot and cold to Collins’ where Carey led by just 15m. It looked set to go to the wire until O’Sullivan played too tight left at the layby and conceded a bowl of odds. Carey held the bowl to the schoolhouse cross. O’Sullivan almost rescued it with a massive bowl past the line. Carey missed the line and needed a big last one to win.
Veronica O’Mahony was commanding in her win over Maria Nagle in the same championship at Béal na Bláth.
She opened with two big bowls to Kehily’s to go almost a bowl clear. She had a clear bowl after three more past Murphy’s. She powered through Bradfield’s cross in five and increased her lead to three bowls in a relentless show to the last bend.
In Ulster, Mark Toal closed with seven super bowls at Newtownhamilton to beat James Oliver by a bowl in the 2020 Intermediate semi-final.
Oliver raised a bowl after four to Garvey’s and he was closer to two in front at the top of the hill. He had a bowl and 40m odds at the bridge.
Toal played a brilliant shot to the mushroom houses and was already well clear after two more to the quarry. He raised a bowl and held it past the line. He plays Paul O’Reilly over the same course in the Ulster final on July 4.
The 2020 Ulster Senior Championship resumes on Sunday with the meeting of Thomas Mackle and Bryan O’Reilly in the quarter-final at Knappagh. The winner plays Colm Rafferty in the semi-final, brothers Cathal and Peadar Toal meet in the other semi-final.
Declan O’Donovan and David Shannon qualified for Saturday’s 2020 Carbery Junior A final at the Marsh Road. The winner plays either Denis or PJ Cooney who contest the East Cork-Waterford final at Ballincurrig on Thursday.
Shannon beat James Nagle in a tremendous contest at Caheragh. He led by 50m after five and doubled his lead with a super eighth to Reenroe cross. He raised a bowl, but Nagle cut the odds to 70m with a brilliant 10th to Sheily’s. Shannon defended his lead and edged close to a bowl in front with four to go.
Nagle kept pressing and had the lead down to 80m facing the line. He made one final bid with a big last shot, but Shannon held firm and beat the line to win by 50m.
At the Marsh Road, Declan O’Donovan rallied to overtake Tony O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan raised a bowl with his first and increased his lead to two bowls. He had over a bowl at the silvery gate, but O’Donovan closed the gap to 40m at the steps. O’Sullivan stayed in front to the avenue gate. O’Donovan led at the concrete and held on for a last shot win.
Denis Cooney beat Mick Hurley in the East Cork– Waterford semi-final at Ballincurrig. Hurley won the first four towards the creamery. Cooney played a sensational fifth towards the pony’s gate to win a lead. He beat the no-play line in six, he raised a bowl with a brilliant shot up the long straight and had almost two at Leahy’s.
Hurley then played three massive bowls to the sycamores to cut the lead to just 20m. Cooney regained control by opening the last bend in two more, while Hurley missed in two.