Third time lucky for Crowe

By Brian Keogh

Dunmurry's Darren Crowe avoided his third South of Ireland final defeat on the trot with a dramatic 18th hole victory at Lahinch.

The red-haired Ulsterman, 26, looked to be cruising to victory when he led Galway's Joe Lyons by three holes with just five to play.

But West of Ireland winner Lyons clawed his way back to all square playing the 18th before running up a disastrous bogey six.

Crowe was more relieved than elated at the finish after avoiding what could have been a Carnoustie-style collapse.

He said: "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."

A native of Banagher in Co Offaly, 35-year-old Lyons took two to escape from a deep greenside bunker at the par-five finishing hole and looked on as Crowe chipped to three feet in three.

After leaving his 20 footer for par tantalisingly short, leaving Crowe two putts for the title, he conceded the hole and the match in front of a massive local gallery.

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.

Battling Lyons birdied the first to go one up but found himself three down at the turn as he lost the fourth and eighth to birdies and the sixth and seventh to pars.

But the real drama started late on the back nine as Crowe bogeyed the 14th, 15th and 17th to be pegged back to all square before getting out of jail at the death.

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.