THE Queen of the Roads qualifying competition has thrown up several well-contested duels and last Sunday’s decider at Derrinasafa was no exception as Rosscarbery’s Emma Fitzpatrick took the coveted semi-final spot.
She enjoyed a stirring victory over Claire O’Sullivan from Kealkil, but had to dig deep to do so after a very short opener handed the initiative to the European sliver medallist.
Claire certainly hit the ground running with three fine efforts to the ‘end of the wall’ giving her a 100m lead. Emma’s first veered right quickly but she rebounded well to stay in touch as they played to the ‘rock’. Narrowing the gap with each shot, the Rosscarbery girl finally took the lead with a splendid seventh along the centre track and it enabled her reach ‘Nattie’s’ in two more, at which point she held a valuable 30m around the bend. Claire fought well in the next exchanges as her Carbery rival threatened to rise a bowl of odds. After O’Sullivan knocked it back to 20m, Fitzpatrick lined a score winning shot to sight at ‘darkwood’ to put a big margin between them again. It was still competitive but Fitzpatrick’s last three from ‘Walsh’s lane’ sealed a one-bowl victory. The stake amounted to €1,200.
In the semi-final at Ballincurrig, Emma will face German champion Anke Klopper and Cork’s Carmel Ryan.
The 33rd hosting of the event gets underway on Friday week, with the other side of the draw featuring the competition favourites, Kelly Mallon and Dutch champion Silke Tulk – the pair have amassed seven Queen titles between them over the past ten years. A yet-to-be-revealed ten-shot qualifier winner to join the pair.
Saturday will have a morning clash that many have been waiting for. In the first of the Hurley’s of Midleton King of the Roads semi-finals, All-Ireland champion Martin Coppinger takes on defending champion Thomas Mackle, undefeated on the road in King competition. Dutchman, Jos Bert Aalbers has the unenviable task of trying to overcome both in this three-way set-to.
Gary Daly should fancy his chances in the second semi. Going in on a high after a superb qualifying campaign, he must negotiate past German Champion Ralf Look and Ulster champion Bryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly can be dangerous and is a previous Jim O’Driscoll Cup intermediate winner on the road. The full preview and score schedule will be outlined in next week’s issue.
In keeping with the lead-in to the big event, another high-profile Ballincurrig contest elicited plenty of interest last Sunday.
The junior A tournament there, for the Moss Twomey Shield, had north Cork players David Hubbard and Vincent Kiely in opposition for a semi-final joust that ended in a welter of excitement. Going for a total of €2,500, the pair could hardly be separated. Kiely was marginally in front in each of the first four before Hubbard’s excellent fifth put him ahead by five. Kiely regained the lead with a smashing seventh but was behind again after a poor tenth, when he might have pulled further ahead. They stayed locked together in twelve each to sight at the ‘big turn’, Hubbard shading the tips by two metres.
The Bealnamorrive man then missed a chance when Kiely failed to make it to the top of the short straight and was 40 behind when his Mallow rival hit a huge effort past the ‘sycamores’.
Hubbard was back in it with a sensational 17th to sight at the last bend, a mark Kiely did well to pass by a mere metre. With all to play for, Hubbard drilled an accurate last shot up to ‘O’Connell’s green’ and it won the day when Kiely’s reply veered right too soon. In a double back the road here, Paul Butler and Bert Randells defeated Maurice Connolly and Joe Mackey, one bowl, for €1,200.