Forkhill win Shield Final
Tuesday, 4 April 2017
IT is always good to finish on a high note and the south Armagh bowls season certainly ended on a high last week.
The league and the shield finals were played in Kilcurry on Wednesday evening and both games were a feast of magic, precision, bowling played in a friendly but competitive atmosphere.
All participants played to the peak of their ability and concentration, making the two finals compulsive watching for the big crowd of spectators who came along to see and enjoy.
Forkhill played Mullaghbawn in the shield. These two teams finished sixth and last in the league run but watching them on Wednesday, one could only wonder why they, as they both put on a show that could beat any opposition.
Forkhill won the match but the result was still in the pot until the last bowls were thrown.
As I watched the game progress a thought came to me, 'a chance of glory brings out the best in everyone!', and a shot at the shield title for 2017 was the spur for both the Mullaghbawn and Forkhill players.
People who threw ordinary bowls through out the league run, upped their game and were making very few mistakes as they realised, 'We can do this!'
There is a lesson there for those in south Armagh who have losing in their heads before they go out to play some clubs and who don't enter competitions because they might not win.
I watched one Forkhill man playing top stuff in Kilcurry and the same man played wonderful bowls in the Pat Nugent finals where he distinguished himself against top opposition.
I also thought many of the new Mullaghbawn players put in sterling performances.
Whitecross crowned League champions
Whitecross are again League champions after getting past neighbours Cullyhanna in the final.
This was a professional class game apart and worthy of two of the top clubs in the country.
On mat one, there was 11 points scored between both sides after 11 ends played an average of one point per end.
The Whitecross four won that by a couple of shots. On Mat two, It was close until the Whitecross side got a break, picked up four and kept that lead until the end.
Again on Mat three, the Whitecross set needed all their skill and some luck to keep the Cullyhanna set at bay as they threatened to push them aside, Tony McParland played a wonderful bowl in the last end taking the jack to the ditch and staying with it, securing victory on all three mats for the champions.
This is the fifth time in a row that Whitecross have won the league and this is probably the sweetest as the opposition was the strongest, Cullyhanna was the club, that Whitecross set as the benchmark for their ambition, when they started their bowls club over 20 years ago.
Back then, Cullyhanna were all conquerors inside and outside south Armagh and Oriel Zone.
The winners for this season in the south Armagh League:
Winners - Whitecross
Runner up - Cullyhanna
Shield winners - Forkhill
Runner up - Mullaghbawn
Trips - Aaron O'Keefe, Paul O'Keefe and Caroline McSherry, Whitecross.
Rinks - PJ Reel, Aiden Murphy, Noel Reel and Martin Murphy, Silverbridge.
Pairs - Aaron and Paul O'Keefe, Whitecross
Singles - Oliver Donaldson, Cullyhanna
Ladies singles - Vera Mohan, Whitecross
Pat Nugent singles - Paul O'Keefe, Whitecross.
Oriel Zone pairs
It has been a great year for Paul O'Keefe, as well as winning so much locally, he has also won the Oriel zone pairs with Micheal Hand and, along with his son Aaron, he has won the West Down zone.
Caroline McSherry, another Whitecross star is also riding the wave. She won the Oriel zone ladies singles and reached the quarter finals of the All-Ireland Singles Championships.
Conor Mackin, Cullyhanna won the Oriel zone trips and he along with his father Noel, John Murnaghan, Seamus McParland, Vera Mohan and Caroline McSherry as members of the St Anthony's Club, Craigavon won the Armagh Zone League.
Congratulations to them all and to the All-Ireland winners Seamus McParlend, Anthony Reel Noel Mackin and Conor Mackin.
They go to England in November to represent Ireland in the Home Championships.
We have the dinner dance on Saturday, April 8, in the Rangers Hall in Crossmaglen starting at 8pm.
They hope to have everyone sitting down before 8.30pm so everyone is asked to be there on time and the committee ask all cubs to bring something as a prize in the very popular raffle that is always an earner for the yearly expenses.
This year, Tony has awards for some of those who didn't win any of the competitions.
We ask all south Armagh bowls people to come and celebrate their sport.
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