TED Hegarty is vintage champion after a barnstorming display at Templemartin yielded a two-bowl victory over Michael O’Callaghan and Teddy O’Neill.
In achieving county honours for the second time in the current season, the Lyre man, who won the veteran (over-50s) grade at Jagoe’s Mills in June, delivered a performance that has rarely been bettered at the Mid-Cork venue. It was indeed one that he has hardly equalled himself even in his heyday in a career spanning five decades, one that stretches back to an U18 county final appearance in 1973 when he was runner-up to ‘Blondie’ Jim O’Driscoll.
Although Hegarty was the punters’ favourite, the lower-graded sectional winners fancied their chances too and pluckily balanced their side of the €4,450 total stake. The tough rising start militated against C winner O’Neill and the two-time veteran winner (1997 and 1998) was also giving away more than a couple of summers.
When both Hegarty and O’Callaghan lined impeccable opening shots, they opened an immediate 70m advantage on the Carraig na bhFear man. It was a trend that would continue. O’Callaghan hit an excellent second but Hegarty beat it by 20 and two more big ones from the front men put both over a bowl clear of O’Neill. Hegarty’s brilliant fourth made sight at ‘Slynne’s’, putting him two ahead of O’Neill and half a bowl up on O’Callaghan.
The contest developed into a two-man race as O’Callaghan defiantly knocked odds after six, only to see his challenge derailed by two explosive efforts from Hegarty as they played on the rise to O’Riordan’s. The second of these, escaping from a tight right-hand play, was effectively a score-winner. O’Callaghan was now a bowl down but still held hopes of getting a glimmer.
Hegarty was relentless, firing two more of the highest order, which brought him full sight around the ‘school-house cross’ and doubling his lead in the process on Gaeltacht rival. Soon after, Ból Chumann’s James O’Driscoll presented the new vintage champion with the Donal Moynahin Shield, which was presented to the Association by the late PJ Lehane.
The ladies’ junior final on the inward route at Templemartin brought the curtain down on the current championship season. This time, there was triumph for the Gaeltacht O’Callaghan clan as Laura, niece of vintage contender Michael and daughter of regional secretary Brendan, claimed the laurels with a bowl-of-odds victory over Carbery’s talented champion, Rachel Whelton.
Laura won the opening exchange but was hind to Rachel’s excellent third. The lead swung back the Gaeltacht lady’s way with a terrific fourth down the right incline and she went on to rise a bowl lead when Rachel’s fifth went right too soon. Trying hard, the Carbery champion saw two in succession break left but just the bowl of odds separated them as they played past ‘Slynne’s house’.
Laura had the better of it around that last bend, although Rachel Whelton threatened when bringing the margin under the shot with three to go. O’Callaghan recovered instantly with a big throw along the right track and it was enough to take the county crown for 2018.
In the women’s intermediate league last Sunday week at The Pike, Reenascreena’s Helen Whyte overcame Drinagh’s Julianne Hayes in a tight contest. Level to ‘White’s cross’ in mixed bowling, the Reenascreena lady hit an excellent cast from here to rise substantial odds but Julianne hit back to level at ‘Draper’s’.
Shot for shot it went to line with Helen Whyte just edging the final exchanges.