Sunday’s Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads at Ballincurrig will be the old firm clash of All-Ireland champion Thomas Mackle and the reigning king David Murphy. These two are vying for the top spot in this classic.
Murphy turned up for his semi-final with Michael Bohane and German champion Ralf Look like a cat on a hot tin roof. He was assertive, focused and with the fire that burned a few years ago. Likewise Mackle was the player of the four-in-a-row, there was never took a step back even when he looked in trouble in his semi-final with James O’Donovan and Dutch champion Bas Senger.
Murphy edged the first two shots to Moore’s gate. He then made the green in three, went way past the creamery in four. Both Bohane and Look went close to the no-play line in five. Murphy then played what looked an impossible bowl through the lines and out to Heaphy’s. There was a hush on the normally noisy road as spectators murmured about what they had just seen. This was vintage Murphy.
Things returned to planet earth though when he missed light with his next and from there it became more like the anticipated battle. Still Murphy fended off his opponents to the big corner. Look levelled with a great bowl to the top of the short straight, but Bohane missed up to fall a shot behind. Look closed in on Murphy to Din Tough’s and matched him out the last bend. His last bowl came to grief on the right hand side though and Murphy was through to the final.
Mackle rescued what looked a lost cause with a sensational finish to his semi-final. He was neck-and-neck with James O’Donovan facing Din Tough’s with four to go. He played what looked a perfect bowl, but it caught the lip of a tarmac patch and hopped into the air and missed light. O’Donovan made light and was perfectly positioned to beat the line in three. That looked virtually impossible for Mackle.
He defied logic by pulling his next bowl around the long lefthand wind to the end of the sycamores. That gave him a sliver of hope. He followed with a sensational bowl past the serpent and out light at the last bend. O’Donovan held the lead against that rally. Mackle’s last bowl didn’t cross the white line as he hoped, but it still left O’Donovan with a shot to beat. O’Donovan’s bowl stayed right too and missed the tip.
Denis O’Sullivan reversed the result of the All-Ireland Junior B final when he beat Aaron Hughes in a sensational Charlie McCarthy Cup final. Every shot of that contest was five star, they were locked together to the death. O’Sullivan played a huge last shot to take it by five metres.
Patrick Mackle and Frank Oliver beat JP Clinton and Paul O’Brien in equally dramatic fashion in the Dairypower Double. This one was on a knife edge too all the way. Clinton showed massive composure to play a huge last shot, but Mackle kept his nerve and beat it.