JACK Murnane defied a quality rival and a match lasting more than two hours to claim the Western District Bowls Division (WDBD) champion of champions title.
The Dennington bowler defeated City Memorial’s Ray Hoy 25-21 in a thrilling first-to-25 final at the Cramer Street green on Sunday.
The win was his fourth in champion of champions finals during a career which started in 1970 and is still going strong.
His first came playing for Corio in 1986.
He earned the second in Belmont colours while the last two have been representing Dennington.
Murnane will represent the WDBD at West Coast Region level on February 16, taking on his Corangamite and Far Western counterparts.
Should he succeed there, his next assignment would be at Bowls Victoria’s state championships week at Bendigo from April 10 to 16.
“Ray and I are both ex-Koroit players. When we started there we played against the grandfathers of the people playing now,” Murnane said.
“The Quinlans and the Dalys. They missed a generation and now all the grandkids are coming through.
“Ray is the toughest bloke I’ve played, for sure, he’s a class bowler. I’ve played a lot who are good bowlers but Ray is the best.”
Murnane said he was grateful he could still match it with the best bowlers in the WDBD at age 61.
“My time is coming to an end, there is a new era of bowlers coming through. You take what you can,” he said.
Murnane had Hoy “on toast” early but had to hold firm as Hoy stormed back, snatching a 20-19 advantage at one stage.
Murnane again surged to lead 22-21 and wrapped up the win by putting the kitty in the ditch while Hoy held two shots.
In the semi-finals, Murnane was a convincing winner against Timboon’s Max Saunders 25-12. Hoy edged out Warrnambool’s Ken Bell 25-24 in a match which had one of the most thrilling finishes in years.
Hoy was holding two shots and the kitty was in the ditch when Bell took his last bowl, needing to draw shot to win the match.
His bowl hung on the edge of the green for a second before dropping into the ditch, rendering it illegal and handing Hoy victory.
n Warrnambool bowler Neil Crisp is the West Coast Region men’s singles champion after a remarkable day at Heywood on Sunday.
Crisp defeated Portland’s Lindsay Gruar and Simpson’s Peter Inglis to book his spot at Bowls Victoria’s state championships week.
His semi-final display against Gruar was one for the ages. He was 14 shots down after 16 ends but stormed home to win 25-24.
The grand final was similarly tight, with Crisp getting over Inglis 25-19 despite his rival regularly scoring multiples.
Portland bowler Joy McGrath is the women’s champion courtesy of wins against Warrnambool’s Kellie Bowles and City Colac’s Val Hutchison.
McGrath defeated Bowles 25-22 in the semi-final and repeated the performance against Hutchison, running out a 25-20 victor.