Back nine defeat for home side in Ulster


Musgrave Club Challenge: Provincial finals: It is the most crushing of disappointments in the game of golf, to have the same score as the winner or winning team but to be beaten on the back nine, back six or last three holes.

The parameters for self-recrimination are boundless over the course of 18 holes. A missed putt here or there usually singled out as the culprit.

The Ulster Final of the Musgrave's Club Challenge in aid of Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin provided just such a denouement with the host club Castle Hume losing out on the back nine to tiny Cloughaneely club from Donegal.

Both triumvirates had 85 points but Cloughaneely won with a superior back nine score of 56 points to 49.

Defending champions Dunfanaghy were three points further back on 82 points in a high-quality competition over the long and demanding Castle Hume layout.

The course is situated amid the woodlands of the lake district of Co Fermanagh, formerly the old Ely Estate and surrounded by Castle Hume Lough and lower Lough Erne. It is a remarkably mature setting for a course that is still in its infancy at 10 years old.

The opening of a magnificent new clubhouse in May - there are plans for a 150-bedroom, five-star hotel on site - and the ongoing work on the course will entice many visitors to Enniskillen to test their golf, and that is what the course most assuredly does.

The Castle Hume team of John Stuart (12), Richard Heap (14) and Pat Duffy (12) certainly took full advantage of the familiarity of their surroundings, beginning auspiciously with a birdie three at the par four first from Duffy.

Ironically it was he who would suffer a cruel twist on the home green, his par putt finishing on the lip overhanging the hole.

Gravity refused to intervene and so the Cloughaneely team of father and son, Francis (12) and Denis Boyle (12) - the latter recently returned from a professional soccer contract with Queen of the South in Scotland - Philip McGeedy (12) that prevailed and will next month head for South Africa as Ulster's representatives in the Musgrave Club Challenge National Final.

Francis Boyle, in speaking on behalf of the winners, articulated his delight at winning the tournament, particularly given the fact that Cloughaneely, situated at the north west tip of Donegal, is a small nine-hole course with just 50 male members.

In deference to the Castle Hume team he ventured: "Sorry boys," before concluding his speech with "I'm really going to enjoy South Africa."

Cloughaneely now join Leinster champions Elm Green, Connacht's Bearna and Fermoy of Munster in departing for South Africa in November for a week long stay at the wonderful Erinvale Estate Hotel.

Situated in the Capetown area known as the Winelands, the 57-bedroom hotel boasts a Gary Player course on site that hosted the 1996 World Cup.

The teams will twice play that course as well as Mowbray and a course in Stellenbosch.

Over 90 clubs took part in the four provincial finals and in excess of €130,000 has been raised for Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Cork's Fermoy came out on top in the Munster final at Nenagh yesterday when their score of 87 points edged out the home club Nenagh by two points.

Fermoy's team of Pat Greehy, John Greehy, and John Kenny played some excellent golf in capturing the top spot and can now look forward to the trip to South Africa.

The Nenagh team of Joe Walsh, Billy Burke and Christy Tuohy, with 85 points, were just two points short of matching the Fermoy total.