Tandragee toasted a maiden success in the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield while Charleville captured their second AIG Pierce Purcell Shield at Westport.
After two previous final defeats, Ulster champions Tandragee savoured All-Ireland success for the first time with a 19th hole victory against The Island. For the champions, Jeff Forde emerged as the hero, sinking a winning birdie putt at the first extra hole.
“This means absolutely everything to the club,” said Forde. “We have never won a green pennant before.”
Three games went the distance in a thrilling Bruen final. Tandragee pair John Haffey and Andrew Thompson secured a one-hole win at the 18th but the Hurley brothers, Conor and Cillian, eagled 19 for The Island to leave the match poised at two points apiece.
As the rain poured down at Westport, players and supporters flocked to game five. All square after 18 holes, the final game returned to the first. Both pairs found the green in regulation but Tandragee’s Aidan Place fired his approach from 74 yards to within five feet.
“I had to hit it over the bunker,” Place said, describing his second shot. “The 54 [degree wedge] goes that far and that was about it.”
John Gartland putted first for The Island, running his birdie try close from 20 feet. Then the stage cleared for Tandragee’s Jeff Forde.
“It was one of those ones,” said Forde describing his winning putt. “I had a couple on the build-up to the tournament and got a little bit of practice. Then I had a few lessons and it all paid off in the end.”
Tandragee had only known defeat in two previous final appearances: at Castlebar in 2010 and at Royal Tara in 2013. On the cusp of the club’s centenary, they finally had their moment of glory.
“We are 100 years old next year and it was fitting that Jeff holed the winning putt,” explained Tandragee team captain Brian Fyffe. “It was his third All Ireland final and I played with him in Royal Tara in 2013. I had to put the team in quickly last night and in the back of my mind I said: ‘I think I’ll put him out last.’ He’s a good friend and his heart is in Tandragee Golf Club in every way.”
Charleville’s victory in the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield proved every bit as compelling. This time, game three proved decisive with Paddy O’Kelly and Ciaran Herlihy clinching it for the Munster champions on the 19th.
“It’s not good for the heart, I swear to God,” said Charleville team captain Anthony Fitzgerald. “For my own team and supporters, I’m thrilled. We’re just absolutely over the moon. We’re a club that were going very well a few years ago but the recession hit us. We’re coming back bit by bit and days like today make everything a little bit easier.”
Success for Charleville marked their second Purcell triumph having first won at Enniscrone in 2006.