East Cork Golf Club’s dream season continued with victory in the AIG Women’s Intermediate Cup at Knightsbrook Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort, to go along with the Men’s Jimmy Bruen Shield title which they took at the Slieve Russell last weekend, while Castlebar went undefeated to claim the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield.
Having defeated Galway Bay by a single point in the previous round, East Cork faced Edmondstown in the final in glorious September sunshine, with the Dublin club coming through their own nail-biting semi-final against Adare Manor.
East Cork team captain Ellen Dorgan made one change from the five-person team that started the semi-final, with Marie O’Brien replacing Claire Coughlan in the lead-off match, after caddying for daughter Claire in the semi-final win.
East Cork’s Kate Daly got the first point on the board in the second match, securing a 5&4 victory over Carmel Burke-Daly, and Claire O’Brien added a second with another 5&4 win over Shirley O’Donoghue in the fourth match, but those were soon cancelled out as Corolanne Roopnarinesingh and Grace O’Neill got Edmondstown back on level terms as they overcame Mary Walsh and Orla Evans respectively, so the tie would be decided by Marie O’Brien and Barbara Maher.
In a match that swung both ways, O’Brien edged back in front on the 15th hole and reached the 17th knowing that a victory would secure the pennant, and with two putts from 35 feet for the win, she only needed one as the ball found the cup at perfect speed, much to the delight of the large East Cork following that had amassed on the bank to the right edge of the green.
Speaking afterwards, team captain Ellen Dorgan spoke of what the achievement meant for the club. “Proud,” she said, “proud is the word. I’m delighted for the girls and delighted for the club. Our Intermediate team have never won a pennant – all the other girls’ teams have, but we haven’t – so I’m delighted that these girls have done it because we’ve been knocking on the door, probably for the last ten years we’ve been knocking on the door in Munster, and finally that door opened for us and we ended up in Knightsbrook.”
For the second week in succession, East Cork’s support have travelled en masse and Dorgan paid tribute to the efforts made to be there to cheer them on. “We are so proud of them, and that’s the support around every match. Every match we played in Munster, and people have taken time off work but they knew we had it in us to reach the final and as soon as we won yesterday the texts were flying.
“It was very emotional for a lot of members. We’ve had a tough six weeks and we’ve had a lot of losses in our team so it’s been very emotional, but this is a crowning glory and we had a few extra players walking the fairways and supporting us up in the clouds.”
Among the members to suffer tragedy were Marie and Claire O’Brien, with Marie’s husband Eddie passing away a month ago after a long battle with alzheimer’s disease. Speaking afterwards alongside their son and brother Stephen who holed the winning putt in the Jimmy Bruen shield success, they paid tribute to their late husband and father.
“We did it for him,” Marie said, “he was so involved with the club. He was captain, he was president, and he loved caddying for me and we all did it for him.” Stephen, who was wearing his father’s ‘president’ embroidered club vest both today and last week, said “it brought us luck last week and it brought the guys luck today. We definitely did it for him and we’re bringing back two green pennants to East Cork for him.”
In the day’s other big final, a dominant performance from Castlebar saw them defeat Abbeyleix to capture the Pierce Purcell Shield.
Having advanced through quarter and semi-final stages without losing a match, the ten-man Castlebar side were hot favourites going into the final and didn’t disappoint as they extended their unbeaten streak to take top honours.
Castlebar team captain Shane Rice made one change from the side that defeated Lismore a day previous with Stephen Munnelly being brought in to replace Seamus Granahan, meaning that Johan Collins would play with his third different partner in as many days.
Despite retaining four of five pairings, Rice changed the order from the semi-final, sending Billy Evans and Ray Prendergast out first where they met Simon Walkin and Neil Condon. Then Sean Haugh alongside Senator Paddy Burke took on Martin Lawlor and Gavin Bonham, Tom Moylett and Declan Prendergast squared off against Mark Ring and Kevin Joyce, Tommy Lawless and Colin Dawson faced Anthony Collins and Pat O’Rourke, and Johan Collins and Stephen Munnelly versus Declan Clooney and Matt Thornton would be the final match.
In a similar vein to the previous rounds, Castlebar came racing from the blocks and took control in four of the five matches on the opening nine.
Burke and Haugh were first to register a point, securing a 4&3 win in the second match, with Lawless and Dawson soon to follow on a 5&4 scoreline. Despite a healthy lead in the third match, Moylett and Declan Prendergast found Joyce and Ring impossible to put away and it ended up being Evans and Ray Prendergast who would clinch the Shield victory on the final hole, with Prendergast holing a 15-footer when it looked as though Walkin and Condon would take the match to additional holes.
Afterwards, Rice spoke of the relief he was experiencing in the immediate aftermath. “I’m struggling to put it into words,” he said, “but I’m relieved. We’ve left a couple of All-Irelands behind us, especially 2019, and we’ve a lot of the same guys that played there on the team again this year.
“Myself and my vice-captain John Kelly started this process last October, believe it or not, looking at guys behind the scenes but not letting them know we were looking at them and we started setting up practice matches in March, went through a lot of practice matches, and we picked a squad where everybody knew their role in it, everybody was ready to win, and everybody was ready to step back and let someone else take their place if need be.”
It was no coincidence that the opening match proved the closest, as Prendergast and Evans pointed out after holing the winning putt. “I got no putt all day,” said Prendergast, “and I missed a few tiddlers out there, but we knew they’d go out strong number one so the captains decided to put us up there and hope we got their best pairing and we knew if we took them out then we’d be champions and that’s the way it fell. Luckily enough we were one-up playing 18 and to sink the winning putt….. We’re a few years waiting for this.”
When asked if they were aware of the importance of their tie as it transpired, Evans admitted that they hadn’t. “We had no clue,” he said, “I didn’t anyway. I didn’t even see the crowd that were coming with us.”
Prendergast, whose brother Declan and cousin Paddy Burke were also on the team, had the last word. “We knew we were in a dogfight today and those guys were two good golfers who hadn’t been past 14 all week, so we wanted to get them. And we did.”
Meanwhile, Royal Portrush will take on Tralee in the AIG Women’s Junior Cup Final tomorrow after comfortable wins over Castlebar and Newlands respectively. That match will begin at 10:00, and it will be preceded by the AIG Men’s Junior Cup Semi-Finals between Cork versus Co. Sligo and Castletroy versus Castle, after they posted wins against Carrickfergus, Dundalk, Co. Cavan and Mountrath respectively.
Those semi-finals begin at 08:00 with the final to follow at 13:30.
Women’s Intermediate Cup Final
East Cork 3 – 2 Edmondstown (East Cork names first): Marie O’Brien beat Barbara Maher 2&1, Kate Daly beat Carmel Burke-Daly 5&4, Mary Walsh lost to Corolanne Roopnarinesingh 4&2, Claire O’Brien beat Shirley O’Donoghue 5&4, Orla Evans lost to Grace O,Neill 6&5
Men’s Pierce Purcell Final
Castlebar 4 – 1 Abbeyleix (Castlebar names first): Billy Evans and Ray Prendergast beat Simon Walkin and Neil Condon 1UP, Paddy Burke and Sean Haugh beat Martin Lawlor and Gavin Bonham 4&3, Tom Moylett and Declan Prendergast halved with Kevin Joyce and Mark Ring 5&4, Tommy Lawless and Colin Dawson beat Anthony Collins and Pat O’Rourke 5&4, Johan Collins and Stephen Munnelly halved with Declan Cooney and Matt Thornton
AIG Women’s Junior Cup All-Ireland Semi-Finals
Royal Portrush 4.5 – 0.5 Castlebar (Royal Portrush names first): Poppy Hastings beat Sarah Prendergast 3&1, Ella Proctor halved with Loran Irwin, Julia Currie beat Breege Finnerty 4&2, Deirdre Bones beat Sheila Baynes 6&4, Siobhan McHugh beat Carmel Moran 6&5
Tralee 4.5 – 0.5 Newlands (Tralee names first): Emma Leahy beat Ann Hughes 1UP, Lucy Grattan beat Leonie Colgan 2&1, Emma Morrissey beat Fiona Ryan 4&3, Ella Moynihan beat Louise Halpin 7&5, Catherine McCarthy halved with Louise Murphy
Men’s Junior Cup Quarter-Finals
Cork 3.5 – 1.5 Carrickfergus (Cork names first): Leon foley lost to Josh Millar 2&1, Frankie Walsh beat Adam McAteer 1UP, Jack O’Flynn beat Hugh McClinton 2&1, David Hickey halved with Stephen Rea, Thomas Healy beat Bill McAtamney Jr 6&5
Castletroy 3 – 2 Co. Cavan (Castletroy names first): Brendan Reidy beat Jonathan Cawley 3&2, Patrick Bermingham beat John Sweeney 1UP, Ronan O’Connor beat Conor O’Reilly 2UP, Olly Hodges lost to Killian McKiernan 3&2, Vincent Clifford lost to Sean Johnston 6&5
Dundalk 2 – 3 Co. Sligo (Dundalk names first): Christopher Clarke beat David McDermott 1UP, Aidan Thornton lost to Daniel Flanagan 3&2, Brian Og Renaghan lost to Tom Flanagan 1UP, Richard Newell beat Christopher Longworth 5&4, Ben Cahill lost to John Paul Flanagan 5&3
Castle 4 – 1 Mountrath (Castle names first): Stephen Finlan beat Paraic Hearns 1UP, David Lawley beat Evan Maher 4&3, Jake Kinsella lost to Gareth Keogh 3&1, Rory O’Brien halved with Martin Gaughan, Kenneth Sweeney halved with Patrick Carroll
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