Coppinger is the senior champ but who could dethrone him this year?
LAST weekend’s white-out necessitated a blanket postponement of all bowling activity.
Chief among the casualties were the inter-regional team bowling finals scheduled for the Phale Road, Ballineen, which were deferred for the second time due to weather conditions. A new date will be announced at the March executive meeting.
Championship scores in almost all divisions also went by the wayside, leaving regional secretaries with many first-round fixtures to re-allocate.
Gaeltacht had intended to commence their 2018 season with novice C and D at Macroom (Colm McLoughlin v Shane Burns and Patrick O’Connor v Adam O’Connell) and Clondrohid (Patrick Browne v Tony Healy and Conor Kelleher v Joe Healy).
Among the West Cork championship scores put in abeyance were an interesting novice C set-to at Ballinacarriga involving newcomer Seán Lucey and last year’s D county winner, Sean O’Regan, along with a novice veteran shoot-out at Kealkil between Patrick Lordan and John Calnan. The Ballinacurra three-way junior A final between John O’Rourke, Andrew O’Callaghan and David O’Mahony was also down for decision last weekend.
The March meeting will also unveil the draw for the senior and intermediate men’s championships. With its 64th running about to commence, the senior shoot-out retains its allure and is regarded as the game’s premier competition.
Thirteen players go into the pot for the first-round draw all of whom can harbour hopes of at least a serious challenge. Favourites there will be, but nobody is unbeatable as the constant stream of tournament and benefit jousts between the top men in recent months indicates.
Martin Coppinger, as defending champion, is always a force to be reckoned with. He is now attempting to win his fifth senior crown since 2010 and is the pre-eminent championship performer. There are times when his form can be flaky but he does possess those killer shots that are almost impossible to counter.
David Murphy is always among those considered most likely when the senior championship is considered at this time of year. It is ten years since his inaugural success in 2008 and has added two county titles to his name since then but perhaps has not dominated to the extent expected.
His brother Aidan is a two-time senior champion and has the wherewithal to go the whole way.
James Buckley is another two-time champion and is always considered among the greats but is now definitely in the twilight of his senior career. Yet, as recently as 2014, he captured the King of the Roads title so a late sting cannot be discounted.
Killian Kingston will want to replicate his success of 2016 and has the focus to do so while Edmund Sexton, championship winner in 2003, retains the explosive ability to make big impact. Among those seeking a first championship success at this level, James O’Donovan is the stand-out challenger possessing that awesome power that could enable him go all the way. Since blazing a trail tot the final in 2010, he has been there or thereabouts each year, only bowing out to some exceptional displays by opponents in the peak of form.
Séamus Sexton has eliminated several leading lights in his three years competing in the senior championship and could well do so again. The progress of the grade’s newest incumbent Michael Harrington will be interesting. Last year’s surprise intermediate champion has proved himself a hard-beaten performer who could cause surprises too at the higher level.
Gary Daly, like James O’Donovan, is due a serious tilt at the title. Runner-up in 2015, the Fermoy man has the bowing to beat anybody when on form. Last year’s runner-up, Arthur McDonagh, showed he will be around for a while and is a very viable contender.
Gavin Twohig is in the form of his life. A two-time intermediate winner, he is currently making waves with a succession of wins some against those in the top echelons. Michael Bohane, as he showed when eliminating James O’Donovan last year, has the potential to rock a few boats and a semi-final placing would be well within his compass. It is a straight knockout format and the match-ups are awaited. The expressed hope is for an enjoyable and competitive competition.