Byrne advances to semi-finals after dramatic playoff win

Ronan MacNamara

Sara Byrne (Douglas) on the 20th tee during the Quarterfinals of the AIG Irish Women's Amateur Close Championship, Connemara Golf Links, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway. 24/06/2023. Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Sara Byrne had to come through a four-hole playoff to book her place in the AIG Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship semi-finals at Connemara Golf Links.

The Douglas golfer forced the playoff by winning the eighteenth in her match with Kanturk’s Mairead Martin, before producing a superb approach on the 22nd hole to claim victory with a sensational birdie.

“Matches today were great, especially the one with Mairead there, going down 22 and finally getting the win. That was a really, really great match, so a lot of birdies put in” said Byrne, who won her Last-16 match earlier in the day 3&2 against Kilkenny’s Jan Browne.


Looking ahead to tomorrow’s semi-final clash with Libby Fleming of El Camino Country Club, the 2018 Close Champion’s focus remains the same as earlier in the week.

“Feeling pretty good, but it’s match play so anything can happen. So just again try to just keep it solid – fairways, greens, and try hole a few putts”.

Byrne’s next opponent, Libby Fleming, was in good spirits after coming through 2UP against Canice Screene of Croham Hurst.

Speaking on the challenge of links golf, Fleming said “I love it, and it was windy today, so it really was links. But yeah, it’s good practice”.

Completing the semi-final lineup is a mouthwatering tie between close friends Beth Coulter and Aine Donegan.

Defending champion Coulter sealed her place by beating Elm Park’s Emma Fleming 3&2, having made the quarter-finals during the morning’s play thanks to a closely contested 2&1 win over Killarney’s Valerie Clancy.

“Yeah two really good matches today, I played Valerie this morning, we had a really great match, it was really tight the whole way. We had like 12 or 13 halves in par, so yeah that was great for this morning. Then this afternoon it was kind of the same with Emma. She hit some great shots, we were halving holes in birdies. Onto tomorrow and playing Aine now” reflected Coulter.

The Kirkistown Castle star will take on Lahinch’s Donegan for a place in the final, with whom she is sharing accommodation this week.

“Yeah we are really really close and we always share at this, we’re actually sharing a room tonight. We’ll have to stop the talking now (joking), but yeah it’ll be really fun. We’re great friends and hopefully it’ll be a great match.”

Donegan, who played a stunning round of golf to fend off Roscommon’s Olivia Costello 2&1 in their quarter-final match, demonstrated that close friendship with Coulter when she joked, “yeah we are actually staying in the same house together and we’re in the same room, so I’ll probably tell her to sleep with one eye open tonight (laughs).”

Sunday will also see a winner of the Plate, as four players remain. Tullamore’s Sinead Ní Cheilleachair will play Gemma McMeekin of Royal Portrush, whilst in the other semi-final, Ballykisteen’s Caitlin Shippam goes up against Royal Tara’s Hannah Guerin.

Winners of both the Championship and the Plate will be crowned on Sunday, after the completion of the respective semi-finals and finals.

For more information and Sunday’s tee times, click here

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