BY MARTIN WALSH
GIVEN that Bol Chumann na hÉireann celebrated its 60th birthday during 2014 it was both timely and fitting that one of the true greats of the sport, Bantry’s Christy Mullins, became the latest inductee to the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame.
As an individual or a team member, he remains a superb ambassador for the sport. Whether the terrain was in his native West Cork or other parts of the country or locations in Germany, Holland, Italy and England, his sporting prowess has drawn great acclaim.
Since his international debut in 1977 he’s been an integral part of every Irish team in the intervening 37 years.
Displaying his unique skill and talent, Christy Mullins conquered the art of Moors bowling and has won individual and team medals.
‘Keeping fit, participation and meeting people, that’s what keeps me going,’ Mullins told The Southern Star at the West Cork Sports Awards on Saturday night.
‘I love bowling. It’s a simple as that. If I haven’t a score at the weekend I have to go to one, as I’m so interested in the game. That’s the way it’s always been.’
Much has changed since he began bowling, Mullins explained.
‘The roads are easier to play now, they are a lot smoother,’ the Bantry man said.
‘When I started bowling 40 years ago the roads were a way more trying, you had away more corners, bends, rough roads to go around, you had away more competition. It was harder to play the game, there was more skill involved.
‘The middle of the roads are high now to keep the water off, the sides are low and people are not developing the skills like they should be – like lofting bowls, they are dropping them at their toes which is not a good thing for bowling.’
Every sport has its icons, mention road bowling and it’s the name of Mick Barry, who passed away recently, that is the first person that springs to mind.
‘I feel I am one of the luckiest people in the bowling scene because in 1971, I was beaten in a county U16 final in Ballyshoneen when I was 13. That same day Mick Barry played a Munster final against Christy Keating and I was in awe of the man, the size of the man and the speed of the bowl,’ Mullins explained. ‘I was mesmerised the same day, I think it was the most interesting single sporting event that I was ever at in my life. He was the man we all looked up to.’
Mullins was accompanied by family, friends and long time supporters, among them Neil Minihane who produced a fascinating catalogue of the many scores Christy has played at senior level throughout the country and abroad.
Compiled by Kieran Harrington, the number comes close to the 600 mark, which is a remarkable achievement.