McKinstry claims Irish Youths Championship with aplomb
Winner Neil McKinstry (Ulster) shows his delight after holing his putt for par on the 17th green during the final round of the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open & Irish Colleges Invitational Championship at Galway Golf Club (26/08/2016). Picture by Pat Cashman

Winner Neil McKinstry (Ulster) shows his delight after holing his putt for par on the 17th green during the final round of the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open & Irish Colleges Invitational Championship at Galway Golf Club (26/08/2016). Picture by Pat Cashman

Cairndhu’s Neil McKinstry made a miraculous par at the penultimate hole and then birdied the last to clinch a three-shot victory in the Irish Youths Championship at Galway Golf Club.

Home favourite Ronan Mullarney was second ahead of Maynooth University teammate Jordan Hood while Maynooth’s A team of Mullarney, Robin Dawson and Sean Flanagan won the Irish Colleges Invitational by three shots from McKinstry’s Ulster side.

McKinstry won the Ulster Youths at Belvoir Park in 2015 but the 20-year-old has struggled this season and was low on confidence after a series of missed cuts.

Albert Lee (Hon Secretary, GUI) presenting Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu & Ulster) with the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open trophy after his victory at Galway Golf Club today (26/08/2016). Also in the picture is Marcus Conroy (Captain, Galway Golf Club). Picture by Pat Cashman

Albert Lee (Hon Secretary, GUI) presenting Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu & Ulster) with the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open trophy after his victory at Galway Golf Club today (26/08/2016). Also in the picture is Marcus Conroy (Captain, Galway Golf Club). Picture by Pat Cashman

“I had absolutely zero expectations coming into the week,” said McKinstry. “Golf is a strange, strange game.”

An opening round 66 on Wednesday suggested all was not lost. Leading by two on four under, he added a 72 to maintain his advantage going into the final round but the title was slipping from his grasp as he dropped four shots in three holes.

Bogeys at 9 and 11 came either side of a costly double at the 10th. McKinstry rallied with birdies at 12 and 13 but he was far from comfortable.

“I hit it really poorly the last five or six holes but I just managed to get it around,” he said. “It wasn’t pretty.”

After a pulled tee shot on 17, he found himself in an ugly situation.

“I’ll never know how I made four to be honest,” he admitted. “I hit it left into the munchies. I was going to take a drop out but at best I was going to struggle to make five so I just thought I’d whack it out as best I could.”

Hunched over, he managed to escape the trees and leave himself a clear shot to the green. From 131 yards, he left a putt of 15 feet and promptly rolled it in for par to give himself a two-shot cushion playing the last.

Albert Lee (Hon Secretary, GUI) pictured with the winning Maynooth University teams (from left) Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Robin Dawson (Tramore), Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo), Ronan Mullarney (Galway), John Murphy (Kinsale) and Liam Grehan (Maynooth) at the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open & Irish Colleges Invitational Championship at Galway Golf Club (26/08/2016). Picture by Pat Cashman

Albert Lee (Hon Secretary, GUI) pictured with the winning Maynooth University teams (from left) Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Robin Dawson (Tramore), Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo), Ronan Mullarney (Galway), John Murphy (Kinsale) and Liam Grehan (Maynooth) at the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open & Irish Colleges Invitational Championship at Galway Golf Club (26/08/2016). Picture by Pat Cashman

After the drama of 17 came a moment of pure bliss as he birdied from six feet to seal victory in style.

“It means a lot to win. I struggled most of the year. It’s good to get rewarded for sticking at it,” he reflected. “I won the Ulster Youths last year, I think that helped me big time playing today.”

While McKinstry clinched the biggest win of his career at Galway, the celebrations were short-lived. He has a 7am start on Saturday morning to cover the shop at Cairndhu.

In three weeks he begins a physiotherapy course at the University of Ulster and having got a taste for success, he is hungry for more.

“I’d love to try and push on and win at a higher level but that’ll be next year,” he said.

For the moment, he can savour that sweetest of feelings – an unexpected triumph.

Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu & Ulster) with the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open trophy after his victory at Galway Golf Club.  Picture by Pat Cashman

Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu & Ulster) with the 2016 Irish Youths Amateur Open trophy after his victory at Galway Golf Club.  Picture by Pat Cashman

Irish Youths Amateur Open Championship,  Galway Golf Club (Par 70)

Final

Detailed scores

210 Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu) 66 72 72

213 Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 71 71 71, Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 71 70 72

214 Robin Dawson (Tramore) 72 69 73

215 Andrew Magee (Powerscourt) 72 70 73

216 Paul Murphy (Rosslare) 75 70 71, Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 68 74 74, Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 70 74 72

217 Cathal Nolan (Galway) 68 72 77, Luke O'Neill (Connemara) 71 71 75, John Murphy (Kinsale) 71 69 77, James Sugrue (Mallow) 68 73 76

218 Laird Shepherd (England) 73 71 74, Rob Brazill (Naas) 72 73 73, Alan Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 71 72 75, Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) 76 70 72

219 Eugene Smith (Ardee) 75 71 73, Colm Hughes (Galway) 74 70 75

220 William Small (Tandragee) 76 73 71, James Wilson (Scotland) 76 73 71, Jack Mc Donnell (Forrest Little.) 77 70 73, Allan Hill (Athenry) 70 76 74, Jake Whelan (Newlands) 69 77 74, Gemma Batty (Scotland) 72 71 77

221 Chloe Goadby (Scotland) 74 70 77, Rory Williamson (Holywood) 74 71 76, Darragh O'Connor (Fota Island) 72 72 77

222 TJ Ford (Co. Sligo) 74 73 75, Shane Kearney (Esker Hills) 73 76 73, Liam Grehan (Mullingar) 73 75 74, Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 77 69 76, Zach Glynn (Bray) 76 70 76, Marc McCormack (Ashbourne) 70 72 80

223 Ross Dutton (Tandragee) 78 71 74, Timmy Broderick (Kinsale) 74 78 71, Brian Doran (Baltinglass) 72 75 76, Robert Moran (Castle) 74 71 78, Jack Blake (The Island) 72 73 78

224 Andrew Davidson (Scotland) 79 74 71, Paddy Culhane (Galway) 80 71 73, Owen Crooks (Bushfoot) 75 77 72, Nathan McCann (Lurgan) 75 75 74, Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 75 73 76, Robert Shaw (England) 72 73 79

225 Jack Tuohy (Galway Bay) 79 71 75, Liam Nolan (Galway) 72 77 76, Sean Burke (Galway) 74 77 74

226 Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee) 78 77 71, Andrew Hickey (Ballyhaunis) 80 72 74, Reece Black (Hilton Templepatrick) 79 73 74, Harry Gillivan (Westport) 75 73 78, Ryan Corry (Clandeboye) 71 76 79

227 Luke Donnelly (Kilkenny) 77 77 73, Jason Conway (Donegal) 75 76 76, Jake Rowe (Tandragee) 76 76 75, Brendan Rossiter (Rosslare) 76 75 76, Shane O'Connor (Castlebar) 76 74 77

228 Dale Jackson (Massereene) 82 73 73, David Brady (Co. Sligo) 73 80 75, David Kitt (Athenry) 76 76 76, Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush) 79 74 75, Ross Steedman (Courtown) 72 79 77, John McCarthy (Stackstown) 78 75 75, Eoghan Collins (Laytown & Bettystown) 76 75 77, Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo) 77 72 79, Jason Murphy (Greenore) 76 72 80

229 John Cleary (Elm Park) 75 74 80, Michael O'Farrell (Galway) 79 73 77, Christopher MacLean (Scotland) 77 72 80, Niall Hearns (Mountrath) 73 73 83

230 Harry Duggan (Kilkenny) 77 79 74, Jack Howard (Fota Island) 79 72 79, Hugh O'Hare (Fortwilliam) 78 71 81, Darragh Conlon (Athenry) 76 73 81

231 Jack Hearn (Tramore) 75 78 78, Joseph O'Neill (Tralee) 80 74 77, Paul Tobin (Cork) 74 81 76, Alasdair McDougall (Scotland) 76 72 83, Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint) 80 67 84

232 Craig Foley (Cork) 78 74 80

233 Peter Hasson (City of Derry) 78 78 77

234 Cameron Franssen (University of St Andrews Mens) 80 77 77, Mark Healy (Kinsale) 76 82 76, Matthew Grehan (Tullamore) 76 78 80, Patrick Jordan (Silverwood) 78 75 81

235 James Temple (Portmarnock) 81 76 78, Oisin Fleming (Dun Laoghaire) 74 82 79, Mark McKenna (Dun Laoghaire) 75 76 84

236 Jonathan Quinn (The Island) 76 73 87

237 Jordan Logue (Hilton Templepatrick) 85 72 80

238 Marcel Horvath (Scotland) 82 78 78, Mikey Burke (Galway) 82 80 76, James McVicker (Knock) 81 77 80

239 Adam McSweeney (Douglas) 78 81 80, Gary Ward (Kinsale) 77 84 78

243 Ryan McCullough (Massereene) 80 82 81

244 Joseph O'Farrell (Galway) 82 78 84

245 Alastair McQuillan (Cushendall) 83 83 79, Darragh Smith (Castle) 80 79 86

250 Gareth Mann (Tullamore) 87 76 87

263 Patrick Le Gros (Newlands) 88 86 89

NR/WD/DQ Cillian Tully (Hermitage) 80 83 NR, Liam Power (Galway) 74 73 DQ, Alec Myles (Newlands) 70 76 WD, Dylan Brophy (Castleknock) 75 73 WD, Andrew Mulhall (Waterford Castle) 74 79 WD, Peter McKeever (Castle) 84 79 WD, Ian Smith (The Island) 85 83 WD, Conor O'Mara (Elm Park) 86 85 WD, Craig Bolger (Carlow) 79 NR WD, Michael Kennelly (Athenry) 79 WD, David Cunningham (Tandragee) 80 WD, Conor Rice (Athlone) 83 WD, Jack Alton (Slievenamon) 84 WD, Jake Vickers (Balbriggan) 85 WD, Robert Browne (Castle) NR WD, Dylan Lambe (Roganstown) WD, Colin Woodroofe (Blainroe) 74 76 WD, Jonathan Doherty (Ballina) 86 77 WD, David Hill (Roscommon) 81 83 WD
 

Irish Colleges Invitational Tournament

Detailed scores

  1. 427 Maynooth (a)
  2. 430 Ulster (a), Maynooth (a)
  3. 432 Maynooth (b)
  4. 433 NUI Galway
  5. 435 Stirling (b)
  6. 438 UCD (a), Stirling (a)
  7. 443 UCD (b)
  8. 462 St Andrews
  9. 479 Ulster (b)