Shocks and sensational bowling marked the busiest week of championship 2022. Hannah Sexton, Séamus Sexton and Michael Bohane were the big winners in Munster, while dual-superstar Kelly Mallon remains queen of Ulster bowling.
Hannah Sexton equalled the road record at Ballincurrig with a swashbuckling exhibition in her Munster senior final win over Veronica O’Mahony. In Ulster Kelly Mallon who helped steer Armagh to an All-Ireland senior football quarter-final, retained her Ulster senior crown at the expense of Siobhán Mackle Murphy.
European champion, Séamus Sexton, is ever inch and exceptional champion. He ended the reign of All-Ireland champion Arthur McDonagh at Baile Bhuirne, where McDonagh stunned a bowling nation last year in the Munster and All-Ireland finals. Equally impressively, Michael Bohane eliminated former champion Martin Coppinger at Templemartin. Two results few would have predicted.
Veronica O’Mahony opened the first bend with a great bowl in the women’s senior final. Hannah Sexton missed light, but played a beautiful second one to the serpent. O’Mahony beat that well to hold her last lead of the score. Sexton followed with a volley of bowls of exceptional quality.
In succession she made the muddy gap, the top of the short straight, the big corner, the top of the long straight, O’Riordan’s and Heaphy’s—six bowls of such sublime quality that virtually no player, man or woman, could hope to match. They catapulted her three shots clear. Her next two had her just shy of the pony’s gate. She was back in the stratosphere with her next three. First to the creamery, then the end of the green and she was just short of the line in another.
In next Sunday’s All-Ireland final, she will need to be equally inspired against Kelly Mallon. In the Ulster final at Madden Mallon led Siobhán Mackle-Murphy by 40m after three. She was a bowl clear at the pipe corner and went on to win by two. In less than 24-hours she will be hoping to down Kerry in Croke Park and win an unprecedented tenth All-Ireland senior crown the next day in Ballincurrig.
Séamus Sexton looks is a man on a mission. Already this year he emulated his father and namesake by winning a European gold medal. Now he joins both his father and brother Edmund in reaching the Munster senior final, both of whom were winners. In the Munster final he faces, Michael Bohane, a player who has both James O’Donovan and Martin Coppinger as notches on his belt this session.
Last year Arthur McDonagh, won plaudits for two sensational performances in Baile Bhuirne in the Munster and All-Ireland finals. This time he could not stay with an exceptional second half from Sexton. A big second shot gave Sexton a 120m lead, but McDonagh led by 60m after a super third shot. Sexton led by five metres after nine, but McDonagh gained a 70m lead with a great next one past the council yard. Sexton won an 80m lead with a brilliant twelfth. He had close to a bowl after his next and raised it with a great 15th to Ó Riada’s. He drove on to increase this to two bowls.
Bohane put down a marker with his opening bowl at Templemartin. Coppinger played a poor first one, which left him almost a bowl down. Bohane went out Slyne’s corner in four to lead by an even bowl. They battled over that lead to the schoolhouse cross, where it was 40m under a bowl after nine and ten. Bohane was unlucky to miss the stone-field bend, but still had almost a bowl facing Buttimer’s. He lost ground when his 13th was accidently blocked and Coppinger got a huge reply past the monument. Bohane regained all his odds with a brilliant bowl to the cross. Coppinger ate into that lead towards the finish.
Paddy O’Donnell beat Cillian Kelleher by almost a bowl in a really top quality under-18 Munster final at Ballincurrig. At the same venue a polished Daniel O’Sullivan beat Jonathon O’Callaghan in the under-14 final, in Saturday’s All-Ireland final he plays Ethan Hughes who beat Ryan Connolly in the Ulster final.