Tremendous Toal wins thrilling Joe McVeigh Cup final

Cathal Toal beat Martin Coppinger in the last shot of a thrilling Joe McVeigh Cup final at Keady, county Armagh yesterday.

He produced a massive last shot to ensure victory. Having the bottle to deliver under such extreme pressure against someone of Coppinger’s stature could be a career-defining moment. In Saturday’s semi-final he ended Thomas Mackle’s bid for four-in-a-row.

There was little between them in the three opening shots. Toal’s fourth looked destined for light, but hit a parked car. Coppinger missed that and there was nothing between them in five more to the creamery lane. Toal played two great bowls to McCann’s to gain close to a bowl. He followed with a great 12th to the hollow to push his lead to a clear bowl.

He hit a wobble with his next two and Coppinger cut the odds to just 20m with a great bowl to McKee’s wall. They both had sight at the bridge with their next, where Toal got a vital cannon to lead by 35m. Coppinger then played a sensational bowl up the rise and missed the line by less than a metre. Toal withstood the pressure and beat the line by 30m with a super last bowl.

On Saturday Thomas Mackle led from the first shot, but Toal opened Twynam’s with a big bowl to level it. It was level past the creamery lane. Toal missed a chance to push clear at McCann’s. He compensated with a great bowl past the garage to go almost a bowl in front. He held that to the bridge, but missed the line well from there. Mackle beat the line with a massive reply, but Toal beat it well.

Coppinger had a win over Aidan Murphy in the other semi-final. His first shot was not great, but Murphy missed it. Murphy’s poor form continued with his second and he was already a bowl behind at Twynam’s. Coppinger was two clear at McCann’s and extended his lead to the bridge.

Overall Ulster dominated the Ból-Fada festival. Paul O’Reilly easily beat Éamon Bowen. Bowen had a big lead after four and led to the creamery lane. He took five more to McCann’s, but was still in front. He increased his odds to 100m to the garage. O’Reilly then got a great bowl. Bowen took two to beat it and his challenge evaporated.

Patrick Mackle and Paul Carr beat Ted and David Hegarty. The Cork pair were almost two bowls clear at McKee’s wall and were still a bowl up at McCann’s. Armagh got two lucky shots to the creamery lane to raise a bowl. The Hegartys regained the lead at Twynam’s and had 15m odds for the last shot. Carr got a big last shot, which David Hegarty missed.

Malachy Lappin denied Jim Coffey with a big last shot. Christy Mullins bucked the trend with an impressive win over Martin Toal. Three shots from the bridge to McCann’s gave him control and Toal conceded at Twynam’s.

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