The Cork Dimension

Prior to 1954 (when Bol-Chumann na hEireann, The National Organising Body for Road Bowling came into existence) scores were organised on parish versus parish basis with local organisers arranging the matches and "binding" money pledged to ensure the arranged score would go ahead between the parish champions.

Many scores were arranged on an ad hoc basis, perhaps over a pint of stout in the local pub. These scores, played with hardly any rules of play, were all to often decided by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules and the sport developed a rather unsavoury record for rowdiness.

Some time later the establishment of the All-Ireland Bowlplayers Association brought about a semblance of order and established rules of play under the Chairmanship of Con O'Connell from Blackrock. The association was also made up of Jim Cadden from Gillabbey Street, who held the position of Hon. Sec., James Deane from Gurranabraher, Treasurer and also committee members, John O'Mahony (one time Welter Weight Boxing Champion of Ireland), Tommy Healy of Cloghroe, Jack O'Shea, Fairhill and T. Healy of Independent Newspapers in Patrick Street - allof whom were Corkmen.

It was this body who organised the first ever All-Ireland Championship in 1954. This title was somewhat a misnomer as it was only players from Cork City and County that participated. More fittingly this competition could best be described as the Munster Senior Championship by which it became known in 1963 when the first All-Ireland Senior Final was played in 1963 between Cork and Armagh.

In the 1954 final, played in Cloghroe in County Cork, Bantry based player Liam O'Keeffe became the first senior champion when he defeated Ned Barry of Waterfall. The final was played on Sunday October 17th, 1954. O'Keeffe's winning margin was a bowl of odds. Later in 1954 the All-Ireland Bowlplayers Association found themselves facing litigation through no fault of theirs and the running of the sport was handed to a new group who were to form Bol-Chumann na hEireann.

To that end a meeting was called in Enniskeane in West Cork by Denis McSweeney, a native of Enniskeane, along with Neally Warren also of Enniskeane and P.J. Morgan of Bandon. The outcome of that meeting was that McSweeney, along with Dunmanway school teacher Flor Crowley, along with Eamonn O'Carroll, also a school teacher from Farran, accepted the invitation to organise and run the 1955 Senior Championship.

The following historic draft was pinned by Flor Crowley N.T., a form of invitation to be sent to leading West Cork Bowlplaying enthusiasts:

A Convention of West Cork Bowling will be held in the hall, Enniskeane on Monday night November 20th 1954, for the purpose of organising the game in this portion of the country. It is suggested that the all Ireland championship tournament for 1955 should be run off in West Cork. It will be the main business of the ???? in Enniskeane to decide if this is to be done, and if so to select suitable venues for such a competition. You are requested to be present at the meeting and to bring with you to other followers of the Game.

On the Monday night of November 24th, the following turned up - Donal Moynihan, Diarmuid Buckley and Steve O'Connor, from Macroom.

From Kilcrea, Eamonn O'Carroll, John Sheehan, Pat O'Callaghan and William Hickey. From Bandon, Mickey Walshe, P.J. Morgan and John O'Sullivan. From Enniskeane, Neily Warren, Denis McSweeney, James McCarthy and William Keohane. From Dunmanway, Mick Hurley, Joe Nash, Tim Cosgrave and Flor Crowley.

From Ballineen came Tom Aherne, Neilly O'Donovan, Tadgh Cullinane and Hugh O'Neill

Arising from that meeting on Monday 24th November, 1954, Bol-Chumann na hEireann was formed.

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