Thomas Mackle signals his King of the Roads intent with big win in Castletownbere

September 18th, 2023 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

Pictured after the Joe O'Sullivan Acorn Life Cup final at Castletownbere, from left, Ted Hegarty, Christy Mullins, Thomas Mackle, competition winner, Arthur McDonagh, runner-up, Mick Minihane, Neil Minihane and Ger Hegarty.(Photo: Gretta Cormican)

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ON the road the main event was the playing of the Joe O’Sullivan Acorn Life tournament over two days at Castletownbere.

In a week when many scores were cancelled as a mark of respect to Teddy O’Driscoll, this competition, which involved negotiation and organisation with Ból Chumann Uladh, went ahead at the expressed wish of the O’Driscoll family.

For the second year running, Thomas Mackle reigned supreme on the Beara peninsula. The Armagh native won two big money shoot-outs from Martin Coppinger and Arthur McDonagh in sweltering heat on successive days. In doing so, he served notice that his form is close to his very best ahead of the 38th hosting of the King and Queen of the Roads festival in two weeks’ time.

Sunday’s final between Mackle and McDonagh carried €66,500 total, typical of a weekend that was a punter’s paradise with stakes in the stratosphere for all scores.

McDonagh was playing a catch-up game after a very short opener but catch up he nearly did in a fiercely fought encounter that was only decided by the sheer will and determination of the northerner to stay in front through the final fraught exchanges.

Mackle took advantage of that early lapse and took a big lead that transferred to a bowl of odds advantage when another blunder by McDonagh with his sixth again proved costly. Mackle’s ninth and tenth were not of his best and McDonagh closed the gap.

With the odds well under the bowl now McDonagh chased the lead with a magnificent 11th throw, but Mackle put the travails of his previous two behind him and followed in like manner. After the next exchange, the lead was back to five metres as Mackle defiantly beat another big one to stay ahead. McDonagh’s 15th was too tight on the left and Mackle increased his lead again for the last shots. The Fermoy man’s last did not trouble the All-Ireland champion and the Joe O’Sullivan Cup went northwards for the second year running.

Mackle won a testy semi-final from Martin Coppinger on Saturday. For a €23,380 total, Coppinger had early momentum winning all the opening five before a bad blunder with his sixth cost him the lead. The Bantry native would not lead again as Mackle, with a high degree of consistency, maintained a handy lead of close on 100 metres through the second half of the score.

The first of Saturday’s semi-finals was a humdinger. Arthur McDonagh and Aidan Murphy fought it to a standstill before the Fermoy man, from a long way back, snatched it in the final throw. Murphy made a great start and led at all points up to the eighth shot. McDonagh led only briefly then, and Murphy was back in front after ten.

The eventual winner enjoyed the luck of the day when his 12th recovered off a left side misplay and it kept him in contention when Murphy looked like sealing it. McDonagh’s 15th was an incredible effort around the last bend, but Murphy still held valuable odds facing the line. The Fermoy man’s persistence paid with a last shot that Murphy missed when his reply veered right. They played for a total of €52,000. They go again this coming Sunday in a Mick Barry Cup King of the Roads qualifier at Ballincurrig.

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