Leinster’s quest to retain the Interprovincial Championship suffered a major setback as hosts Connacht beat them on the opening day in Athenry.
Level after the morning foursomes, Connacht won the bottom three matches in the singles to clinch a 6.5-4.5 victory. In the day’s other match, Ulster beat Munster 6-5. Ulster edged the foursomes 2.5-1.5 with the singles shared.
Playing on their home course, Allan Hill and David Kitt produced the goods for Connacht with Hill winning both of his matches. Paired together in the foursomes, Hill and Kitt recorded a crucial one-hole win against Naas duo Jonathan Yates and Robert Brazill.
Hill went on to beat Robert Moran 2&1 in the singles while Kitt halved with Yates. Their returns proved crucial for Connacht in a closely contested match. Leinster’s leading pair, Caolan Rafferty and Eugene Smith, got the champions off to the perfect start with a 6&5 win against Alex Gleeson and Sean Flanagan but Ronan Mullarney and Jack McDonnell combined for a 3&2 success in the last of the foursomes to keep the match tied going into the afternoon.
Rafferty, Leinster’s highest ranked player, was convincing again in the singles and dispatched Sean Flanagan 4&3 but that was the sole success for Leinster in the singles. Mullarney overcame Alan Fahy by one hole and Joe Lyons held sway in the back match against Smith to secure Connacht a precious opening day victory.
Ulster will be pleased with their day’s work after overcoming Munster. Matthew McClean (5&4) and Reece (4&3) were victorious in the singles but the tone was set in the foursomes.
Tiarnan McLarnon combined with McClean for a 3&1 success while Black was paired with Ross Dutton for a one hole win in the top match. Garry O’Flaherty and Geoff Lenehan were best for Munster with an impressive 7&6 win.
O’Flaherty, an interpro veteran having first played in 1996, also won his singles match but it was not enough to prevent Ulster taking the spoils.
Day 1 Results
Leinster 4.5 Connacht 6.5 (Leinster names first)
C Rafferty & E Smith beat A Gleeson & S Flanagan 6&5; J Yates & R Brazill lost to A Hill & D Kitt 1H; A Fahy & C Denvir beat J Lyons & TJ Ford 2&1; R Cannon & R Moran lost to R Mullarney & J McDonnell 3&2; C Rafferty beat S Flanagan 4&3; R Cannon halved with J McDonnell; J Yates halved with D Kitt; R Brazill halved with A Gleeson; R Moran lost to A Hill 2&1; A Fahy lost to R Mullarney 1H; E Smith lost to J Lyons 1H
Ulster 6 Munster 5 (Ulster names first)
R Black & R Dutton beat J Sugrue & E Griffin 1H; M Norton & M McKinstry halved with A McCormack & C Butler; T McLarnon & M McClean beat P O’Keeffe & J Hickey 3&1; R Williamson & P Kerr lost to G O’Flaherty & G Lenehan 7&6; T McLarnon halved with J Sugrue; M McClean beat P O’Keeffe 5&4; M McKinstry lost to E Griffin 3&2; R Black beat J Hickey 4&3; R Dutton lost to A McCormack 2&1; R Williamson lost to G O’Flaherty 1H; M Norton beat G Lenehan who retired after 4 holes injured.
Day Two Draw – Thursday 30th August
Connacht v Munster
(Connacht names first)
A Gleeson & S Flanagan v A McCormack & C Butler; A Hill & D Kitt v J Sugrue & E Griffin; R Mullarney & J McDonnell v G O’Flaherty & P O’Keeffe; J Lyons & TJ Ford v J Hickey & G Lenehan
Ulster v Leinster
(Ulster names first)
R Black & R Dutton v C Rafferty & E Smith; M McKinstry & M Norton v J Yates & R Brazill; T McLarnon & M McClean v A Fahey & C Denvir; P Kerr & R Williamson v R Cannon & R Moran