By Brian Keogh
Connacht survived some self-inflicted wounds before grabbing a shock 8-5 victory over defending champions Ulster on the opening day of the Golfsure sponsored Interprovincial Championship at County Louth.
Pat Killeen's youthful squad took the foursomes series 3-1 but it could easily have ended up all square as Athlone's Kelan McDonagh discovered he had 15 clubs in his bag as he partnered fellow club man Ciaran O'Connor.
The Connacht pair were all square after two against Ciaran McAleavey and Stephen Crowe but were subsequently penalised with the loss of both holes before McDonagh jettisoned an "extra" two-iron in his bag on the third.
But the youngsters refused to be rattled by that setback and regained their composure to rack up an impressive 4 and 3 victory in the final match of the morning.
Co Sligo's Gary McDermott and The K Club's Michael Lavelle also produced a brilliant comeback from three down after 10 holes to beat North of Ireland champion Gareth Shaw and Porstewart's Paul Cutler.
The Connacht pair took then next six holes on the bounce, winning four of them with birdies for an amazing 3 and 2 victory.
In the afternoon singles, West of Ireland champion Joe Lyons lost balls at the 16th and 17th as he fell by 3 and 1 to Shaw but Connacht still won four and halved two of the nine singles matches.
Munster beat Leinster 7 ½ - 5 ½ in the second match with veterans Pat Murray and Karl Bornemann taking full points from their encounters
In the morning foursomes, Munster won all four foursomes matches as Murray teamed up with Peter O'Keeffe to beat Irish Close champion Shane Lowry and Castle's Dara Lernihan 3 and 2.
Bornemann and South of Ireland semi-finalist Stephen Moloney then beat Cian Curley and Neil O Briain by one hole to leave Munster in an almost unassailable position going into the singles.
Lowry gave Leinster hope with a 2 and 1 win over Cian McNamara in the top match but Murray beat Simon Ward 4 and 3 and Bornemann edged out Dara Lernihan by one hole to send Munster on their way.
With Gary O'Flaherty's 2 and 1 win over Andrew Hogan, Munster won three and halved one of the singles matches and will face a wounded Ulster today.
Interprovincial Championship, sponsored by Golfsure, Co Louth Golf Club.
Connacht 8 Ulster 5 (Connacht names first)
Foursomes: J Lyons & C O’Malley lost to R Kilpatrick & C Doran 2 holes; M Lavelle & G McDermott bt G Shaw & P Cutler 3/2; D Scully & D Coyne bt M Sinclair & F Rafferty 3/2; K McDonagh & C O’Connor bt S Crowe & C McAleavey 4/3.
Singles: J Lyons lost to G Shaw 3/1; C O’Malley bt R Kilpatrick 2/1; M Lavelle bt C Doran 1 hole; G McDermott lost to N Grant 3/2; D Scully lost to P Cutler 5/3; D Coyne bt F Rafferty 3/2; C O’Connor halved with R Leonard; K McDonagh bt M Sinclair 3/1; S Kelly halved with S Crowe.
Munster 7 ½ Leinster 5 ½
(Munster names first)
Foursomes: P Murray & P O’Keeffe bt S Lowry & D Lernihan 3/2; S Power & J Morris bt N Kearney & S Grant 4/2; C McNamara & C Bowe bt S Ward & P O’Hanlon 3/1; K Bornemann & S Moloney bt C Curley & N O Briain 1 hole.
Singles: C McNamara lost to S Lowry 2/1; P Murray bt S Ward 4/3; S Power lost to N Kearney 2/1; P O’Keeffe lost to P O’Hanlon 2/1; C Bowe lost to C Curley 6/5; J Morris halved with N O Briain; S Moloney lost to N Gorey 3/2; G O’Flaherty bt A Hogan 2/1; K Bornemann bt D Lernihan 1 hole.
Today: Munster v Ulster; Connacht v Leinster.