Bandon's James O'Donovan dethrones senior champion Aidan Murphy in road-bowling epic

August 18th, 2021 4:50 PM

By Southern Star Team

James O'Donovan, left, with referee Sean Kenneally and Aidan Murphy prior to their recent championship semi-final at Templemartin.

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A NEW name will appear on Ból Chumann’s senior roll of honour when the 2020 championship is decided at Ballyvourney on the first Sunday in September.

Should he go all the way, James O’Donovan will have earned his prize after emerging victorious from a three-and-a-half-hour battle with defending champion Aidan Murphy at Templemartin recently.

In overcoming the formidable challenges presented by the honours laden Murphy brothers on successive Sundays, O’Donovan has shown focus and intent and an innate ability to recover from any setbacks with a powerful finishing surge.

He will need all that resolve again when he meets Arthur McDonagh in a few weeks’ time, but for now he can take satisfaction from another hard-won success.

His opening shot was far from his best, but a swift recovery saw him line two outstanding efforts which put him eighty metres up on the All-Ireland champion who did not put significant odds on the Bandon man’s first.

O’Donovan’s fourth for sight at ‘Slynne’s’ was too tight before big fifth and sixth shots saw him regain his earlier advantage. Murphy rallied with a brilliant tenth to the ‘school-house cross’.

It was a shot that gave him an unexpected lead when O’Donovan miscalculated with his response. O’Donovan’s recovery was again instant as he lined a ferocious effort down around the stonefield-bend only for Murphy to follow to within thirty metres.

In the exchanges to the ‘pub cross’, Murphy edged back in front by a valuable twenty metres as they faced west for the final segment. O’Donovan’s finishing prowess came to the fore as he regained the lead with a splendid cast from the cross and then followed up with a sizzling 17th which put him in control at a vital juncture.

Significantly too, a groin injury at this point limited Murphy’s run in and delivery and he was visibly struggling as he sportingly conceded with two shots left. They played for a total of €13,000.

Seamus Sexton did not need to concede a bowl of odds start to Arthur McDonagh when the pair clashed in the first of the weekend’s semi-finals at Castletownkenneigh recently.

Yet, that is what transpired when the North Cork contender’s opening throw caught the right far too soon and then watched as the overwhelming favourite fired an explosive cast on to the straight. Sexton’s second and third efforts did not pass McDonagh’s opening mark by a significant amount and at that point a runaway win for the Fermoy man was on the cards.

That did not materialise as Sexton found a sprig of form from the fourth shot onwards gradually reducing odds to the point where an opportunity presented itself to level the contest as they played around the double bends beyond the half-way mark.

After his outstanding opener, McDonagh crossed a few to the right and the lead was back to the bare bowl when Sexton unleashed two brilliant shots to the ‘old pub’.

Sexton’s tenth was another fine effort bringing the margin under the shot and the score was in the melting pot with plenty road left to reduce the margin further.

Still under the bowl throwing his eleventh, McDonagh crossed his attempt for sight but Sexton’s reply, with a chance to level matters, was not well executed and the bowl of odds was between them again.

The Fermoy-man carried that advantage to ‘forsions cross’ and banished any hopes of a Sexton comeback with a ferocious seventeenth that pushed him almost two bowls up. They played for a total of €2,900.

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