Shay’s Short Game: Munster fight back to take Interpro title

Geoff Lenehan’s par putt on the 18th secures an improbable victory with Ulster second

The Munster team with GUI President John Moloughney celebrate after their victory in Athenry.

The Munster team with GUI President John Moloughney celebrate after their victory in Athenry.

 

Munster fightback secures Interpro title

Munster completed an amazing comeback to win the Interprovincial Championship at Athenry on a dramatic final day. “No way,” said Geoff Lenehan when told his par putt on 18 had clinched the title. Lenehan’s one-hole win against Alan Fahy ensured Munster had the six points necessary for a match victory over Leinster. That result pushed Munster ahead of Ulster, who had earlier beaten Connacht, and so, for the first time since 2014, Munster were crowned champions.

“That was unbelievable,” said Munster captain Michael Coote. “We knew after being down 3-1 in the foursomes, we had a great team meeting before we went out. I told them, ‘Lads we did 6-1 yesterday in the singles [against Connacht]. I only want 5-2 today.’ And they pulled it off. What a team.”

For much of the afternoon, a Leinster four-in-a-row looked the more likely outcome. After collecting three points from the foursomes, the reigning champions only needed three more to retain their crown. Ulster still had a say in the outcome provided they beat Connacht handsomely but the signs were pointing east.

After losing to Ulster on the first day, Munster would have been out of the running had they gone down to Connacht. Holding a one-point lead from the foursomes, Munster were simply awesome in the singles, winning six of seven matches. Meanwhile, Leinster’s defeat of Ulster meant that all four teams had a chance of taking the title.

For Munster, James Sugrue played a leading role at the top of the order. One down playing the 15th, he looked likely to lose the hole but sank a 20-footer from off the green to pinch it from Caolan Rafferty before closing out a crucial win on 18.

After Sugrue came Eanna Griffin, again sealing it on 18 against Robbie Cannon, while Peter O’Keeffe had by then beaten Jonathan Yates 3 and 2. Now, attention turned to the back order. John Hickey was rock solid in the anchor leg, defeating Eugene Smith on 16, just before Lenehan struck.

Ulster roars greeted Alan Fahy’s neat approach because a win at the last for the Leinster man would have resulted in a halved match with Lenehan, leaving Ulster to take the spoils. When Fahy failed to convert for birdie from 15 feet, Ulster hopes abated. Lenehan holed from four feet and rapturous cheers rose from the Munster squad assembled beside the green

Final Standings: 1 Munster, 2 Ulster, 3 Leinster, 4 Connacht.

Purcell second in Scottish Open

Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell finished second and Tramore’s Robin Dawson eighth in the Carrick Neill Scottish Men’s Open Amateur Championship on the King’s course at Gleneagles.

Purcell carded rounds of 73, 66, 67 and 68 to finish runner-up to France’s Victor Veyret, six behind on six-under-par 274. Runaway winner Veyret shot 69, 65, 67 and 67 for a 12-under-par total of 268.

It was also a good week for Irish Amateur Open champion Dawson, who opened with rounds of 72 and 70 and then made eight birdies in a seven-under 63 in the third round before closing with a rollercoaster 75 to finish tied for eighth on level par 280.

Dun Laoghaire’s Colin Woodroofe was joint-13th on two over after rounds of 70, 71, 73 and 68 for 282. Euan Walker from Kilmarnock shot 67, 68, 70 and 70 to finish third on five under-par 275.

Dunne to captain junior Vagliano Trophy team

Maria Dunne has been confirmed as the new GB&I captain for the Junior Vagliano Trophy match against the Continent of Europe at Royal St George’s in 2019.

As a player, Dunne featured as a member of the Britain and Ireland team which beat the United States to win the Curtis Cup in 2016 at Dun Laoghaire and also played in the Vagliano Trophy against the Continent of Europe at Circolo Golf Bogogno last year.

She represented Ireland in the Ladies Home Internationals and European Amateur Team Championships and won the 2017 Irish Open Stroke Play Championship.

In 2018, Dunne was appointed Women and Girls Development Co-ordinator in Ireland following funding provided to the Golf Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union by The R&A.

“It’s a great honour to be asked to be Captain of the Britain and Ireland side.” said Dunne. “I am really looking forward to the challenge, and I wouldn’t have accepted the role if I didn’t think I could add some value. We will be ready to take on the Continent of Europe side at Royal St. George’s next year!”

Meanwhile, Elaine Ratcliffe has been appointed as the new captain of the Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team for the 2020 match and will also lead the teams in the Vagliano Trophy and the Astor Trophy in 2019.

Ratcliffe, who hails from Sandbach in Cheshire, enjoyed a distinguished amateur career as a player and won the Finnish Amateur Championship in 1997 and the English Amateur Championship the following year.

Leinster Senior Cup goes to Portmarnock

Having narrowly missed out on winning the Metropolitan Trophy, Portmarnock were delighted to bring home the AIG Senior Cup Pennant. The only real surprise in the quarter-finals was that Old Conna gave Portmarnock a great match and the north Dublin club were relieved to scrape through.

In the semis the finalists from the Barton Shield a few weeks ago, Dundalk and Enniscorthy, were both beaten by Dun Laoghaire and Portmarnock respectively and in Dundalk’s case this was a surprise. Keith Murphy was the hero for Dun Laoghaire with a great win over Caolan Rafferty by 2 and 1.

The final proved to be a very tight affair, Stephen Walsh’s inspired putting saved him having to play the last two holes against Marc Nolan. The best golf of the day was played in the decisive match between Darragh Coughlan and Colin Woodroofe and Coughlan’s birdie on 17 brought a very good match to an end, Portmarnock defeating Dun Laoghaire 3.5/1.5.

Irish Times Shield at Powerscourt

The Irish Times Shield, now in its 92nd year in association with The Leinster Alliance, will take place at Powerscourt GC on Sunday September 16th. The Times Shield is the last inter-club competition of the year and has taken place every year since 1927, without fail. The first winners were Hermitage Golf Club and most of the Dublin city clubs have won it at some stage. This competition is for single handicap golfers from Dublin and greater Leinster area.

The competition is a four-man team event with the best three nett scores to count. There is also singles prizes for both nett and gross scores.

The cost of entry per team is €160. Cheques made payable to: Leinster Golfers Alliance aa second team of Juniors may be entered into the competition.

To enter a team contact Brian Williams 086 252 4089 or Michael Ruane 086 8394378 at: itshield@irishtimes.com

McGeady claims Derry title

Michael McGeady posted a brilliant second round 63 to retain the Bishop’s Gate Hotel Walled City Pro-Am title at City of Derry GC. McGeady began the second round of the 36-hole tournament trailing overnight leader Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) by a shot following an opening round of 66 at Foyle Golf Centre.

Thornton carded a bogey-free 65 (-6) to edge ahead of McGeady and Colm Moriarty (Glasson Hotel & GC) after 18 holes.

McGeady came out firing on the final day, putting his local knowledge to good use, signing for a seven-birdie, no bogey of 63 to win by five shots on 129.

“In the back of my mind I was trying to beat the number I won the event with last year which was 12 under but it was a difficult day. When I stood up on the first tee I was just expecting it to be a real battle,” said Michael.

“I had discovered something the day before in my swing that was helping me move through the ball better. I have to say I hit the ball fantastically well for two days. I hit 34 of 36 greens in regulation which was pretty decent in those conditions.”

Thornton finished alone in second on seven under while Mark O’Mahony (Titleist National Fitting Centre) came through the field with a second round 67 to finish in third on five under par.

Professional Brendan McCarroll and amateur partners Jimmy Foley, Kevin Hennessy and Ronan Curran won the team prize with a two-round total of 176.

Australian Spoons for Strandhill pair

The pairing of Kathleen Kelpie and Christine Tighe from Strandhill Golf Club claimed the top spot in the Australian Spoons National Final in Athlone with a great score of 42 points, winning on the back nine from the Wexford pair of Carmel Murphy and Sheila Richardson who claimed the gross prize with 34 points.

Jane Joyce and Patricia Reddy from Gort were second on 41 points, with the Wicklow pairing of Rosemary Kavanagh and Clair Higgins taking the third place on countback from Woodbrook’s Lee Murphy O’Connor and Cliodhne Hamilton after both pairs finished on 40 points.

Greystones take Metropolitan Trophy

In the second leg of the Metropolitan Trophy final Portmarnock, having lost 8 of their 9 matches to Greystones two weeks previously, got off to a quick start by winning the first five matches - causing much excitement among the many supporters from both clubs. News got around quickly that Portmarnock had won the 8th and 9th matches.

The overall state of play was now Greystones 8 Portmarnock 8. Two matches were still in contention. Excitement grew and Greystones showed their strength when John Egan who was ahead and dormie on the 18th tee beat Brian Thornes by 2 holes.

The outcome was now resting with the final match alive on the 18th tee. Shay O’Keeffe brought Greystones to victory on the final green when Niall O’Dwyer conceded the match.

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