Athlone’s Kelan McDonagh paid tribute to his coach and his teenage caddie as he made amends for his painful defeat in this year’s South of Ireland final with victory in the Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trophy.

The 20-year old midlander was four strokes adrift of Castle’s Dara Lernihan entering yesterday’s 36 hole finale at the classic James Braid design.

But he ran out an impressive winner in the end when he carded a pair of solid, one-under par 71s to edge out his former Ireland team mate Lernihan by two strokes with a four round aggregate of three-under par 285.

“It’s great to get some silverware before the year is out,” said McDonagh, who claimed last year’s Irish Youths title on his home course before losing to Carlow’s John Greene in the final of the ‘South’.

“It is pretty satisfying after what happened in the South. I thought I had a pretty good chance at Lahinch and I was pretty disappointed with the way that panned out.

“Looking back it was a great achievement to make the final but it made me all the more determined to end the year on a high and I did it today.”

A final year student at NUI Maynooth under the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship scheme, McDonagh earned his first senior international cap at last year’s Home Internationals but played poorly for most of the season and failed to retain his place.

“I put too much pressure on myself to keep my place on the Irish team this year and I didn’t play my best golf until that team was picked and it didn’t matter any more,” said McDonagh, who returned to form at Lahinch thanks to hard work with his coach Brendan McDaid, the highly-respected teaching professional at Rathsallagh.

“I can’t thank Brendan enough. He completely restored my confidence in my game and I really feel now that I can continue to improve.

“It’s back to Maynooth now to finish the final year of my Arts degree. Next year the goal is to get back on the Irish team and win a championship.”

Irish Close champion Lernihan led by four strokes from McDonagh on five-under par at halfway but saw his lead reduced to just two strokes over the eventual winner when he carded a third round 73 to a 71 by the Athlone man.

McDonagh erased the deficit early in the final round before a decisive two-shot swing at the short 12th gave him a crucial cushion heading down the stretch.

Putting beautifully all day, he holed a 30 footer for birdie at the tricky par-three as Lernihan failed to get up and down from greenside sand and bogeyed to fall two strokes behind.

The 23-year old Dubliner eventually carded a three-over 75 to finish alone in second place on one-under par 287 with defending champion Connor Doran, seven strokes behind the winner in third place thanks to a final round 71.

McDonagh explained that he learned a lot about himself and the game at Lahinch that stood to him over the final two rounds in Mullingar.

He said: “It all comes down to experience and I got great experience from playing in the final of the South and in the last group of the Irish Youths this year, even though they didn’t work out for me.”

He also thanked his teenage caddie Charlie McMickan, a Connacht Under 15 interprovincial, for keeping him on the straight and narrow.

“He made sure I played sensible golf,” McDonagh said of his Athlone club mate. “He’s only 14 years of age but he talks like a 20-year old. He has an old head on young shoulders and made sure I just played my own game and paid no attention to what Dara or anyone else was doing.”

Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trophy, Mullingar GC (Par 72)

Third round scorecards

 

Fourth round scorecards

 


285 K McDonagh (Athlone) 73 70 71 71

287 D Lernihan (Castle) 70 69 73 75

292 C Doran (Banbridge) 71 76 74 71

294 C Glynn (Carton House) 78 70 71 75

295 D Morgan (Mullingar) 74 75 72 74, R McNamara (Headfort) 74 73 71 77

296 A Dunbar (Rathmore) 78 72 72 74, E Stack (Ballybunion) 76 74 71 75, B Anderson (Co Sligo) 76 74 71 75, J Fanagan (Milltown) 75 74 69 78

297 B Walton (The Island) 76 74 72 75, A Hogan (Newlands) 74 72 75 76

299 R Whitson (Mourne) 78 69 78 74, S Barry (Lee Valley) 72 73 77 77

300 S Grehan (Tullamore) 77 77 74 72, J Greene (Carlow) 75 76 76 73, R Bridges (Stackstown) 75 73 76 76, M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 75 72 76 77

301 R Walsh (Kilkenny) 79 71 74 77

302 C Curley (Newlands) 72 79 76 75, N Grant (Knock) 71 80 74 77

303 G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 75 76 77 75, I Brennan (Greenore) 72 75 78 78

304 M Shanahan (West Waterford) 77 74 75 78, S McGlynn (South County) 75 80 71 78

305 C Martin (Kilkenny) 77 72 78 78, D Coughlan (The Royal Dublin) 75 76 77 77, P O’Leary (Lucan) 75 76 74 80

306 A Grant (Killinbeg) 78 76 77 75, J Monaghan (The Island) 77 72 78 79, B Casey (Headfort) 75 72 82 77

307 A Kearney (Castlerock) 77 73 73 84, B McSweeney (Woodbrook) 74 76 76 81

308 J Lyons (Galway) 76 75 76 81

309 A Lowry (Esker Hills) 79 75 76 79, S Ryan (The Royal Dublin) 77 75 79 78, M Durcan (Co Sligo) 74 75 81 79

310 T McGowan (Strandhill) 81 75 77 77

312 E Smith (Ardee) 81 74 79 78, M Collins (Mahon) 77 79 78 78, J O’Rourke (Mullingar) 77 75 81 79, D Beattie (Castlerock) 74 76 80 82

313 W Hanna (Kilkeel) 79 75 76 83

314 G Shaw (Mullingar) 80 75 82 77

315 P Burke (Mullingar) 74 82 73 86

316 S Bryan (Delgany) 81 75 75 85

321 M Reck (Lucan) 78 76 87 80

WTD T O’Connor (Athlone) 73 73 83 WTD, R Leonard (Banbridge) 78 76 80 WTD

NS G McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 77 78 NS

NR S O’Connor (Skerries) 76 78 NR

 

Mullingar Scratch Cup - Past winners

2010 Kelan McDonagh

2009 Connor Doran

2008 Shane Lowry

2007 Paul O’Hanlon

2006 Rory McIllroy

2005 Gareth Shaw

2004 Greg Bowden

2003 Colm Moriarty

2002 Eoin O’Sullivan

2001 Colm Moriarty

2000 Johnny Foster

1999 Tim Rice

1998 Pat Collier

1997 Sean Quinlivan

1996 Peter Lawrie

1994 Padraig Harrington

1993 Eddie Power

1992 Raymond Burns

1991 Paul McGinley

1990 Leslie Walker

1989 Darren Clarke

1988 Adrian Morrow

1987 F. Gannon

1986 John McHenry

1985 Garth McGimpsey

1984 P. Murphy

1983 Ian Elliot

1982 Philip Walton

1981 Mark Gannon

1980 Val Smyth

1979 Frank Gannon

1978 B. Wilson

1977 Eddie Dunne

1976 M.D. O’Brien

1975 Hugh Smyth

1974 B. P. Malone

1973 Mark Gannon

1972 Des Smyth

1971 Martin D. O’Brien

1970 Peter Benka

1969 N. Mason

1968 Martin D. O’Brien

1967 B. P. Malone

1966 Peter Townsend

1965 Peter Townsend

1964 Tom Craddock

1963 J.B. Carr