AIG Ladies Cups and Shields — Joy at last for Castle; plus round-up
Castle Ladies Senior Foursomes team at back (from left) Carina Staunton, Martha Jones, Sinead Heraty, Margaret McConville (Lady Captain, Castle GC), Avril Haughton (Team Manager), Claire O'Donoghue (Assistant Team Manager) and Joanne Smyth. In front (from left) Aedin Murphy, Amy Jones, Sally Lenehan, Ruth Keating and Siobhan McCarthy after their victory at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook (25/09/2015) . Picture by Pat Cashman

Castle Ladies Senior Foursomes team at back (from left) Carina Staunton, Martha Jones, Sinead Heraty, Margaret McConville (Lady Captain, Castle GC), Avril Haughton (Team Manager), Claire O'Donoghue (Assistant Team Manager) and Joanne Smyth. In front (from left) Aedin Murphy, Amy Jones, Sally Lenehan, Ruth Keating and Siobhan McCarthy after their victory at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook (25/09/2015) . Picture by Pat Cashman

Castle captured their first ever All-Ireland title in the AIG Insurance Senior Foursomes after a superb display against Mallow in the final.

For Sinead Heraty, this victory has been a long time coming. The ILGU Chief Executive has been a member of the Dublin club since 1983 so when Aedin Murphy and Martha Jones secured the winning point, it was an emotional experience.

“We’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve been waiting a long time,” said the Longford native. “This year was the first time we ever won the East Leinster finals. We qualified in last spot in Newlands and we knocked Royal Tara out by a shot. It’s unbelievable, it really is.”

Heraty formed a formidable partnership with Sally-Anne Lenehan as they won all three matches together during their run to the title. Their 6&5 success in the final against Mallow paved the way for Castle’s victory. By the time Heraty and Lenehan were finished, Aedin Murphy and Martha Jones were on the verge of winning the back match.

Sinead Heraty and Martha Jones (Castle) celebrate on the 15th green victory in the Senior Foursomes Final at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook Golf Club(25/09/2015). Picture by Pat Cashman

“I’ll enjoy this one a bit more,” said Murphy, who previously won the Senior Foursomes with Carlow in 2006. “I was a bit younger the last time, it was a new experience.”

Murphy and Jones faced a few anxious moments when they lost the 12th but they immediately hit back with a birdie on the next thanks to a sensational approach by Murphy.

“The 13th was key. I hit a 77 yard wedge to a foot, that was sweet. That was the highlight for me,” said the 26-year-old. Four up with five to play, they eventually closed out their match on the 15th. For Heraty, it was easily her greatest moment on a golf course. Three years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and having survived that ordeal, this felt like a circle closing.

Aedin Murphy and Martha Jones (Castle) celebrate on the 15th green their victory in the Senior Foursomes Final at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals. Picture by Pat Cashman

“To be back to full health and to be back at this level, it is brilliant,” she said. “That’s all behind me and now I have an All-Ireland medal and a title to defend.”

Meanwhile Murphy will contemplate her golfing future over the winter, having rediscovered her passion for the game.

“Personally golf has been disappointing for the last three years but it is what it is,” said the former Irish international. “I’ve one more year left in me and trying to win a championship, that’s going to be a goal next year.”

Ruth Keating (Castle) reacts to a missed putt on the 3rd green in the Senior Foursomes Final. Picture by Pat Cashman

Senior Foursomes Final

Mallow ½ Castle 2½

  1. Ber Clarson (6) & Carmel Kearney (8) lost to Sinead Heraty (7) & Sally Lenehan (7) 6&5
  2. Mary Dowling (3) Marie O’Sullivan (11) halved with Ruth Keating (5) & Amy Jones (10) (called in)  
  3. Susan Curtin (5) & Catherine Roche (9) lost to Aedin Murphy (1) & Martha Jones (14) 5&3

Valerie Hassett (President, ILGU) with the Lee Valley Team winners of the Intermediate Cup at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook. Picture by Pat Cashman

Guest stars as Lee Valley win Intermediate Cup

Wearing spikes rather than studs, former Irish rugby international Laura Guest found success all the same as she guided Lee Valley to All-Ireland glory.

Guest retired from international rugby last year after a 14-year career in the Irish jersey but she was celebrating another famous victory on Friday night. A Grand Slam winner with the Irish ladies in 2013, Guest got her hands on an All-Ireland medal in the AIG Intermediate Cup Final at Knightsbrook when Lee Valley beat Malahide in the final at Knightsbrook.

“It’s a bit different here,” said Guest. “I absolutely love the golf. I’m just lucky that we were here and lucky that we played well. It’s only really this last year that I’ve spent a bit of time playing, I never really had time before.”

Helen Hodson and Catherine O’Sullivan had won their matches comfortably, leaving Lee Valley just one point from overall victory. Unbeknownst, Guest had the title in her hands and when she completed a 3&1 victory on the 17th the cup was going back to Cork.

“I couldn’t look at anybody there the last three holes, I just needed to stay focused,” said Guest, who had played in three World Cups with Ireland during her rugby career. “If I wasn’t playing the golf I’d probably have been very tempted to go back playing rugby last year but I think it gave me a little escape.”

Champions in 2012, this was Lee Valley’s second All-Ireland crown in four seasons and Guest was looking forward to a big night back at home.

“I’d say we’ll be in Lee Valley until the early hours, I can’t wait to get home.”

Intermediate Cup Final

Malahide 1 Lee Valley 4

  1. Trish Ryan (16) halved with Vanessa Fitzgerald (14) (Called-In)
  2. Ann Ryan (17) lost to Laura Guest (16) 3&1
  3. Ann Evans (18) lost to Helen Hodson (16) 4&3
  4. Olive Shannon (18) lost to Catherine O'Sullivan (18) 5&4
  5. Orla McMahon (18) halved with Katherine Doran (18) called in.

Noirin Donovan (KClub) playing her second to the 7th green in the Minor Cup Final at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Special K — Minor Cup for Noirin and Co

Noirin Donovan survived an emotional rollercoaster to claim the winning point on the 19th as The K Club emerged victorious.

Michelle Tighe had just taken the first point on the 18th in the top match for the Kildare ladies and with Grainne Blake proving victorious as well, Donovan had the chance to seal the trophy when she came to the final green one up. However Portumna’s Brid Kelly won the 18th to square the match.

“It was the tightest, scariest thing I’ve ever been involved in,” said team captain Mary Merrins. “Around 10, 11 and 12 we were nicely comfortable and then we started dropping shots. There was something going on that I didn’t like.”

At one stage, Merrins thought that the match was beyond them.

“We’re absolutely thrilled because I had practically given up on the 17th. One of our girls, who had lost yesterday and lost badly, and was never going to play golf again, she won today.”

Previously the K Club won the Challenge Cup in 2007 but this was their first success in the Minor Cup.

“I can’t believe it’s over and that we won, it was so tight,” said Merrins. “It’s been wonderful, it’ll be one hell of a party.”

Minor Cup Final

The K Club 4 Portumna 1

  1. Michelle Tighe (22) beat Veronica Curtin (21) 1hole
  2. Noirin Donovan (23) beat Brid Kelly (23) 19th
  3. Grainne Blake (23) beat Lily Graydon (24) 2&1
  4. Phyllis Kelly (24) halved with Mary McDonagh (25) called in
  5. Edel Decies (28) halved with Bernie Kilmartin (25) called in.

Valerie Hassett (President, ILGU) with the KClub Team winners of the Minor Cup at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals. Picture by Pat Cashman

Limerick Ladies chase Junior Cup

Limerick’s ladies are on course for All-Ireland glory in the AIG Insurance Junior Cup after an impressive semi-final victory.

Teenagers Emma Guinane and Heather Fitzgerald, both 17, led the way for Limerick as they beat Athenry 3-2 to set up a final meeting with Enniscorthy. Guinane had two holes to spare in the top match while Fitzgerald had an emphatic 6&4 victory in the back match. When Maria Kelly won the decisive point on 17, Limerick were through to the decider although it was nothing less than team captain Siobhan Conway expected.

“It’s very hard to get here and we want to stay. We’ve done that, we had the accommodation booked in advance because we knew we’d be here. You have to be confident. You have to have a bit of luck as well and I think that luck is on our side and I think that we’re going to go all the way,” said Conway, whose young stars have been shining brightly all season.

“The preparation was done before we got here so we were very confident. We have a mixture of youth and experience, two young girls out the front and the back, very confident golfers and they are getting better every time we play a match.

"They haven’t been beaten at all so we’ve been really pleased with them and then you have the experience in the middle which keeps them balanced and focused. It was a great victory,” said a delighted Conway.

Limerick have not been to an All-Ireland final since 2006 when they were beaten to the Senior Foursomes title by Carlow. Standing in their way tomorrow are Mid Leinster champions Enniscorthy, who were impressive winners against Lurgan.

“The girls were absolutely extraordinary,” said team captain Jennifer King. “They were down at the outset but they really dug deep and came back, they are an amazing bunch.”

The Wexford club have a proven track record at this stage of the Cups and Shields having won the All-Ireland crown in 2010.

“We would very much like to win this one,” said King. “The panel set themselves a target at the start of the year and sometimes dreams really do come true.”

Satruday’s final starts at 10.40am.

Junior Cup Semi Finals 

Limerick 3 Athenry 2

  1. Emma Guinane (9) beat  Marie Carr (8) 2up
  2. Fiona McGann (9) lost to Maria McNamara (9) 5&4
  3. Maria Kelly (10) beat Ursula Morley (12) 3&1
  4. Ann O'Mahony (11) lost to Nicola Nally (12) 4&3
  5. Heather Fitzgerald (13) beat Teresa Coen (13) 6&4

Enniscorthy 4 Lurgan 1

  1. Connie Doyle (8) beat Fiona McGrady (8) 4&3
  2. Margaret Mooney (9) beat Christine Hagan (9) 3&1
  3. Eimear McGrath (10) lost to Sian Mulholland (10) 2&1 
  4. Caitriona Hogan (10) beat Bronagh McKavanagh (10) 1up
  5. Stellah Sinnott (11) beat Lynne Hanna (10) 3&1

Bearna to face Powerscourt for Junior Foursomes title

Bearna booked their place in the final when Caroline Codyre and Barbara O’Keefe sealed the winning point against Lee Valley.

The Galway club, playing in their first ever Cups and Shields Finals, are now through to an All-Ireland decider against Powerscourt, who beat Malone in the second semi-final.

After winning the first match 4&3 courtesy of Ailis McDermott and Mary Farrell, all eyes were on Codyre and O’Keefe when Lee Valley took the anchor leg. All square through 15, the Bearna duo hit the front at the crucial moment.

“Our second match was the important one,” said team captain Catherine Quinlan. “They went one up on the 16th and then they won the 17th. That was relief because our last match we had lost on the 13th. We had to win the second match. It’s great. They are absolutely over the moon.”

Just 19 years old, Bearna will have their first taste of a final when they play Powerscout tomorrow. The Wicklow ladies had a comfortable victory against Malone, which came as a welcome relief for team captain Stella Carmody.

“Yesterday was nail-biting and it went down to the wire on the 18th hole in all three matches. Today we were just on fire. Maybe playing yesterday was a good thing,” said Carmody, whose team beat Castlecomer in Thursday’s quarter-final. “To get this far is such an achievement. We’re going to give it everything tomorrow. We’re out to win, we don’t like coming second.”

Carmody’s side were assured of their place in the final when Noeleen Whelan and Theresa Howe won the back match 4&3 after Sarah Tierney and Suzanne Sherry had put the first point on the board with a 5&4 success. Whatever happens tomorrow, a new name will appear on the trophy as Bearna and Powerscourt battle it out for the Junior Foursomes title from 10am.

Junior Foursomes Semi Finals

Lee Valley 1 Bearna 2

  1. Teresa Down (15) & Joan Buckley (20)  lost to Ailis McDermott (15) & Mary Farrell (21) 4&3
  2. Ann O'Flynn (15) & Marie Hayes (22) lost to Caroline Codyre (17) & Barbara O'Keefe (19) 2&1
  3. Barbara Butler (17) & Imelda O'Sullivan (23) beat Valerie Kiely (17) & Marian Cunningham (21) 6&5

Powerscourt 2½ Malone ½

  1. Janet Casey (17) & Christine O'Neill (18) halved with Nicola Dolaghan (18) & Louise Shearer (18)
  2. Sarah Tierney (16) & Suzanne Sherry (20) beat Eleanor McKelvey (18) & Robin Howard (19) 6&5
  3. Noeleen Whelan (17) & Theresa Howe (19) beat Linda Dean (18) Anita Goan (21) 4&3

Mount Juliet bid to stop East Cork in Challenge Cup

Mount Juliet and East Cork will compete for the AIG Insurance Challenge Cup title tomorrow.

While the Kilkenny club had no problems against Rossmore in Friday’s semi-final, winning the first three matches in style, the Munster champions had to come from behind against Elm Park.

East Cork were on the verge of defeat when they lost the first two matches but they managed to turn the tie around and Carmel Reardon sealed their place in the final when she won the back match on the penultimate hole.

“The heart was in the mouth at that stage,” said East Cork team manager Frances O’Brien. “It was Carmel’s first match of the year, she had been out injured with a frozen shoulder. I’d say she was exhausted by the end. She was absolutely fabulous. She did the job for us.”

Brenda O’Sullivan did not have the same worries watching her Mount Juliet side as they swept aside Rossmore. Karen Murphy, Pauline McEnery and Alison Hoyne all won their matches on 14 in a one-sided contest.

 “They are a team that have great grit,” said O’Sullivan. “In the mid-Leinster semi-final, one match won on the 21st having been four down with six to play and we won another match on 19 when we were two down with two to play. They are fantastic.”

Tomorrow’s final, which begins at 11.30am, will he hotly contested as East Cork seek to win their second title in three years.

Challenge Cup Semi Finals

Mount Juliet 4 Rossmore 1

  1. Karan Murphy (28) beat Eilish McQuaid (28) 6&4
  2. Pauline McEnery (30) beat Mary Kelly (28) 6&4
  3. Alison Hoyne (31) beat Kathleen Dawson (29) 5&4
  4. Niamh Strudwick (32) halved with Collette Connnolly (29) (called in)
  5. Anne Murphy (32) halved with Mary McCabe (36) (called in)

East Cork 3 Elm Park 2

  1. Rachel Sheehan (28) lost to Rosemary Ryan (27) 2up
  2. Pamela Codd (30) lost to Jean Twohig (28) 2&1
  3. Suzanne Hickey (31) beat Marie Keaveny (28) 5&3
  4. Rachel Rea (31) beat Jessica Bergin (29) 4&3
  5. Carmel Reardon (31) beat Anne Marie Ryan (32) 2&1