Niall MacSweeney delighted with Irish team after clinching Euro Nations

Ronan MacNamara

Matt McClean, Jack Hearn, Michael Collins (coach), Niall Mac Sweeney (captain), Hugh Foley and Sean Keeling pictured with the silverware.

Ronan MacNamara

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Ireland won the European Nations Team Championship for the first time since 2016 and only the second time in their history yesterday in Sotogrande.

Tramore golfer Jack Hearn led the charge all week and although his own chances fell just short in the individual event, his T3 finish on -2 helped Ireland secure the silverware.

It was a phenomenal effort from the team of Hearn, Sean Keeling (Roganstown), Matt McClean (Malone) and Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin) and team captain, Niall Mac Sweeney was thrilled with their success.

“It was a fantastic performance by the lads and coach Michael Collins this week. It was a great team effort, everybody contributed to a fantastic team win,” said Mac Sweeney.

“In the end it was a one-shot win but it was fantastic to do it, go out with the lead, under pressure. Not knowing if we were going to finish because the organisers said if we didn’t finish we would be back tomorrow.

“I’m very proud of them, it’s a great start to the year following the runner-up finish at the Octagonal. Thanks to Michael Collins for all of his hard work with the lads this week and the Golf Ireland team for their assistance in the lead up to the event.”

The last Ireland team to win this event was Alex Gleeson, Stuart Grehan, Jack Hume and Dermot McElroy, who were victorious at La Reserva.

Rory McIlroy (2006), Shane Lowry (2007) and Hume (2016) had also won the individual event, but Hearn looked to follow suit when he held a one-shot lead on Saturday morning.

Despite two bogeys on the front nine he bounced back with a pair of birdies on six and nine, another bogey followed on 13 but once again Hearn showed composure to hit back with a birdie straight away. James Ashfield (Wales) eventually drew level with him at the top and it wasn’t to be for the Maynooth University star.

Meanwhile, Ireland still held a narrow one-shot lead in the overall team event just ahead of a resurgent Switzerland team. Keeling finished up on +6, with McClean one shot further in arrears and Foley back on +12. And while Hearn held on for a -2 finish Ireland ended their eight-year wait.

“Hugh was struggling early on but dug in and ground out a great +1 73, it was a -2 back nine for him this afternoon. Matt was +1 through the turn and turned his round around with a fantastic second into the Par 5 14th, to three feet, holed the eagle putt,” said Mac Sweeney.

“Sean had a bit of difficult stretch around the turn. Then he was very unlucky, his approach shot hit the bottom of the flag on 11 and spun back out to the front of the green. But finished strong and never gave up and obviously made a significant contribution in rounds one and two.

“Jack was our star man this week, probably personally disappointed not to have closed out the individual win. But nonetheless a highly respectable tied third. Fantastic play this week from Jack.

“His 71 yesterday was as good a 71 as you will ever see in unbelievably testing conditions. When we were struggling a bit he hung in there and then finished it off brilliantly by a great up and down on 18. Again today, finished with four really solid pars to give us the win by the shot.”


View the final scoring here


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