The day bowling took over in Tipperary's hurling heartland
THE trip to Tipp on Saturday last for the Michael Cusack Cup was a new and worthwhile venture for the sport of bowling.
Included, for the first time, in the Thurles Sarsfield International Hurling Festival programme of events, the specially organised inter-provincial doubles tournament on the Cormackstown Road, a few shots away from Semple Stadium, was a resounding success.
Surprise but deserving winners were Mayo men, David Hughes and Peter Gibbons, who showed fine mastery of the new venue particularly over the closing stretch with Gibbons, in particular, displaying power and accuracy in getting his partnership out of a few sticky situations.
The strong Cork duo of Sean Twomey and Aidan Sexton looked to have the Connacht men’s measure in the event’s opening score, holding close on a bowl lead at the three-quarter point. Hughes/Gibbons reversed that to score a thrilling last shot win.
In the second Cusack Cup semi, it was the Ulster men Seamus Conlon and John Grimley who came out on top against the Louth, Leinster pairing of Donal Lucey and Alan Long. A two bowl margin separated them at the end in favour of the Armagh men.
The Connaught/Ulster final was a cracking encounter in which Conlon and Grimley dominated for long stretches. A full bowl down after nine shots, Hughes and Gibbons combined brilliantly to stage a two shot turnaround before winning the day by a bowl of odds.
Cork had worthy winners on the Cormackstown Road when John Bowen and Elaine Collins won a wonderfully exciting tussle with Ulster under-age stars Ryan Kinchen and Orlaith Valley.
Bowen and Collins started in style rising a lead of almost two bowls but were pegged back before losing the lead with one to go. John Bowen’s big last shot rescued a narrow win.
At the presentation ceremony afterwards in Thurles Sarsfields function room, Liam O’Neill, Uachtarain Chumann Luthchleas Gael, presented the Michael Cusack Cup to David Hughes and Peter Gibbons.
Bol Chumann chairperson, Susan Greene spoke of the wonderful legacy left by Michael Cusack and the pride her organisation takes in being part of the Thurles festival.
John Enright, chairman of the organising committee, spoke glowingly, both on the road before the competitions started and at the presentation ceremony, of the support he received for the inclusion of bowling in the festival. Having instigated the idea, his committee of 60 as well as Bol Chumann’s Susan Greene, James O’Driscoll and Brendan Hayes fully endorsed the proposal, and its launch in Croke Park in May had given the event a suitable profile.
The start of play on Saturday morning was given an added lustre by the attendance of all-time great, Jimmy Doyle, who threw the 28 for the first time when setting proceedings underway. Jimmy received a warm welcome from all on the road.
The thrilling action later in the day at Semple Stadium was enjoyed by all who came for the bowling competitions. It was a day to remember in the hurling heartland.
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