Arthur McDonagh launched his 2022 season with a two bowls of odds win over Martin Coppinger on the Corrin Road near Fermoy on Saturday.
While it was a good win for the All-Ireland champion, the atmosphere was light years away from the All-Ireland final cauldron in which he defeated Thomas Mackle, in what was his last competitive outing. It failed to ignite in the early stages and lost its spark when Coppinger lofted a dead bowl. This was a more prosaic challenge than his famous loft over the Dripsey river a weak earlier, but the consequences were even more score defining.
Coppinger missed light with his opening shot, McDonagh didn’t take advantage though and missed the tip. He did better with his second one to win his first lead. There was little in it in the following throws. Coppinger played a poor shot to the cross. Again McDonagh had a chance to gain an advantage, but just beat the tip. Coppinger opened a good lead up the straight.
McDonagh rallied with a big bowl to bare light. Making full light would have given Coppinger a big advantage. He opted to loft, but it never looked convincing and his bowl landed inside the fence. In an instant from being in a good lead he was over a bowl behind. He then played a fine purlicue around the bend, but the damage was done. McDonagh built on his lead and had two clear bowls before the line.
Séamus Sexton’s last shot win over Éamon Bowen at Carraig na bhFear was far more dramatic. This too was a volte-face for Bowen. He was the standout player at Peake the previous week and looked to have it wrapped up approaching the line.
They missed light with their first throws, Sexton took the second one to the black gate. Bowen played two great bowls to the doctor’s. He followed with a sensational fifth to Daunt’s to go a bowl clear. He was at Fitzgerald’s in six. Sexton got back into it with two good bowls to the creamery cross. Bowen pushed clear with a great bowl from the cross, but he made a mistake with his next one and lost the lead. He bounced back with two great bowls to light past the novice line. When Sexton made a mistake there, Bowen was a bowl clear again.
Sexton kept in touch with a big bowl towards Crowley’s cross. Bowen looked to have deflected that challenge with a huge bowl down past the farm, but Sexton reduced the odds by beating it well. Bowen lofted poorly from there and suddenly they were level facing the line. Sexton closed with another good one past the line, while Bowen’s reply hit the bridge and missed the line.
David Hubbard beat Alex O’Donovan by a bowl at Béal na Marbh. O’Donovan opened with a brilliant bowl to take the first one by two metres and followed with another good one to full sight to increase his lead. Hubbard turned the tide with a big fourth shot to the white house to win his first lead. He then beat O’Donovan’s good bowl up the hill and pushed his lead to 100m after a great bowl to the end of the railing past the rock.
Hubbard gained almost a bowl with another big one to sight at the start of the straight. He raised a bowl at the palms. O’Donovan knocked the bowl with his next, but Hubbard restored it at the end of the straight. He held it in the next three past the novice line. O’Donovan knocked the bowl with his second last, but conceded it again in the last shots.
Wayne Callanan advanced at the expense of Andrew O’Callaghan in the Tim Foley Cup at Templemartin.