Lahinch continued their golden period as they claimed their third AIG Women’s Senior Cup title in four years after overcoming Douglas Golf Club 4-1 in an all-Munster clash.
After Saturday brought a deluge of rain and high winds, the finalists were treated to a sun-drenched Tramore Golf Club. Lahinch of Co. Clare – who were beaten finalists last year – held off the Cork club’s challenge to reclaim their crown as the cream of the crop in women’s golf.
Winning captain Aideen McCarthy, whose brother Larry is the current president of the GAA, was overcome with relief.
“Relief. I suppose huge relief is the biggest emotion right now,” she said. “After three very busy days and three tough matches. We had Royal County Down on Friday, Dún Laoghaire on Saturday and then Douglas today, and Douglas have been great rivals of ours over the years, always giving us a very tight match.”
Lahinch roared out of the traps and took commanding leads in the early stages of the first and final matches, but Douglas’ Aoife Ni Thuama took a three-hole lead on Niamh O’Dwyer in the third match with the remaining matches very much in the balance.
However, O’Dwyer battled back to level the match with a birdie on the 17th before completing a superb comeback with a match clinching win on 18 which also sealed the title.
O’Dwyer was proud of how her battling qualities shone through.
“I just had to battle and battle and I managed to drag myself back and tie it up,’ a beaming O’Dwyer admitted, ‘then, you know, anything can happen on the 18th.”
In the men’s final, Carton House proved too strong for Cushendall and put an end to the Antrim side’s fairy-tale run and claim their sixth All-Ireland title since 2013.
The 2020 champions (delayed until 2021) were comfortable 4-1 semi-final winners over Tandragee and kept their feet firmly on the throttle as they established their dominance in the decider with a rip roaring start and they were never caught. The Kildare club led at the turn in all five matches with Keith Egan turning five up over David Burns on his way to a whopping 8&6 win.
Nine hole club, Cushendall’s semi-final with Athenry went down to the wire, with playing captain David Burns securing the winning point in extra holes with the match tied two-apiece.
The Antrim club had perhaps spent all their energy in overcoming the Galway side. They were unable to make changes to their team lineup and as a result didn’t reach the same levels they had in the morning and were collectively flat in the final and it was something that Carton House captain Brian Cunningham was acutely aware of knowing how energy sapping an unlikely run to the final can be.
“I feel for Cushendall,” said Cunningham who had the luxury of drafting out Irish International Marc Boucher for Colin Cunningham for the final. “They had a huge run in winning Ulster, getting here and getting through the two matches to make the final.
“It takes it out of you, and we freshened up our team for the evening, the second-half, because we know that. This is our sixth All-Ireland since 2013 and on the back of that you learn stuff, and you become comfortable in these surroundings but when it’s your first one you don’t.”
Carton’s latest triumph is testament to their youth policy with members of the 2012, 2014 and 2022 winning Fred Daly teams lining out.
In Colin and John Cunningham, the generational baton is also being handed over with John – a leading player in Carton House’s Fred Daly Cup success earlier this year – a team substitute and caddying for father Colin who, at 50, was the senior member of the panel, though the team captain suggested that it may be Colin who’s carrying the bag for John in 12 months’ time.
Carton’s Aidan Dooley sank the winning putt and he feels his team’s strength in depth was a crucial factor in the afternoon,
“It’s huge,” he said. “that’s where the extended panel really comes into it. Going back the last couple of years, it’s been very much an extended season and there’s so many games that everybody is likely to miss a couple through holidays and whatnot, but it’s great to be able to replace a player of quality with a player of equal quality.”
Carton may be walking away with the medals and the pennant but captain Burns and Cushendall will be travelling back up the M1 with an immense sense of pride and a winning feeling.
“We couldn’t be prouder, coming from Cushendall in North Antrim, it’s traditionally hurling country and if you’re not playing hurling you’re looked at funny. But hopefully now it’s hurling and golf country. We come from a nine-hole course, it’s 4,600 yards, so the achievement is ridiculous really. We’re like family, but the golf today by Carton was absolutely incredible. It was a joy to watch at times and I hope they really enjoy the celebrations tonight because they deserve it, but we’re both coming off the course feeling like winners.”
AIG Women’s Senior Cup Final
Douglas 1 – 4 Lahinch (Douglas names first): Clodagh Coughlan lost to Aideen Walsh 3&1, Karen O’Neill lost to Sarah Cunningham 2&1, Aoife Ni Thuama lost to Niamh O’Dwyer 1UP, Jemma Barry halved with Olivia Lucas, Jessica Kavanagh halved with Jenny Hennessy
AIG Men’s Senior Cup Semi-Finals
Cushendall 3 – 2 Athenry (Cushendall names first): Ronan McCambridge lost to David Kitt 6&5, Christopher McLaughlin beat Aaron Gilligan 19th, Cathal MacCanna lost to David Mooney 1UP, David Burns beat Sean O’Connell 19th, Alistair McGregor beat Joe Bernie Jr. 3&2
Tandragee 1 – 4 Carton House (Tandragee names first): James Hewitt halved with Darragh Flynn, Jamie Stothers lost to Marc Boucher 1UP, William Small halved with Keith Egan, Ross Dutton lost to Aidan Dooley 7&5, Stefan Greenberg lost to Paul O’Hanlon 3&1
AIG Men’s Senior Cup Final
Cushendall 1 – 4 Carton House (Cushendall names first): Cathal MacCanna lost to Aidan Dooley 4&3, Ronan McCambridge lost to Darragh Flynn 6&4, Christopher McLaughlin halved with Colin Cunningham, David Burns lost to Keith Egan 8&6, Alistair McGregor halved with Paul O’Hanlon