Crowe ends South hoodoo

Brian Keogh in Lahinch

Darren Crowe ended his South of Ireland hoodoo with a dramatic 18th hole victory at Lahinch.

The flame-haired Dunmurry man, 26, was desperate to avoid losing in the final for the third year on the trot.

But he had to sweat to pull it off after throwing away a three-up lead against Galway's Joe Lyons with just six to play.

After winning with a birdie at the last, Crowe sighed: "I got lucky in the end to be perfectly honest.

"The win in the South means a lot. I wouldn't have like to have lost this one. As Padraig Harrington said at the Open, I don't know if I would have come back.

"I was pretty nervous about it before I went out. Being the third final, I didn't want to have the label of losing three finals in a row.

"But now that I have won, I have to say that it means even more to me than winning the North last year."

In the morning semi-finals, Crowe was unstoppable as he defeated Royal Dublin's Niall Kearney 3&2 while Lyons beat Castletroy's Stephen Moloney 2&1.

But while the final produced just four birdies, it was a nerve jangler right to the end.

Offaly native Lyons, 35, birdied the first but lost the fourth and eighth to birdies and the sixth and seventh to pars to go three down before the real drama started late on the back nine.

While Crowe lost the short 11th after taking three to reach the green, Lyons three putted the 12th to go three down again.

His chances looked to have gone when he missed a five footer for a winning birdie at the 13th.

But bogeys by Crowe at the 14th, 15th and 17th left them all square playing the par-five 18th.

Both men hit the fairway, but hile Crowe overshot the green by a few yards with his three-iron approach, Lyons bunkered his five-iron, took two to get out and left himself a 20 footer for par.

After Crowe chipped to three and a half feet, Lyons failed to save par and conceded the match.

Lyons said: "I didn't do too much wrong apart from the seventh and the bunker shot at the last. It was a pity, but fair play to Darren."

McNamara&Co South of Ireland Championship, Lahinch

Semifinals; D Crowe (Dunmurry) bt N Kearney (Royal Dublin) 3/2;
J Lyons (Galway) bt S Moloney (Castletroy) 2/1.

Final: D Crowe bt J Lyons 1 hole.