By Brian Keogh
The “old guard” came up trumps as Munster snatched the Golfsure sponsored Interprovincial Matches on a countback at Co Louth yesterday - winning the title for the first time in a decade.
Led by veterans John “Junior” Morris, Karl Bornemann and Pat Murray and buoyed by some magnificent performances by Douglas’s Peter O’Keeffe, John Carroll’s charges beat Connacht 8 1/2 matches to 4 1/2 on a nail-biting final day.
The margin of victory proved to be the crucial factor in the proceedings as Leinster’s 7-6 victory over Ulster left the sides with two victories apiece.
But in the end the title headed south-west for the first time since 1997 as Munster won 22 matches to Leinster’s 21 over the course of the three-day contest.
Paying tribute to side, Carroll said: "It was a great team performance. We expected to do well coming in and there was a great team spirit in the camp. A few people on the periphery said there were a lot of old stagers in the camp, but the result speaks volumes for those lads.
"Junior Morris was outstanding all week, remaining unbeaten. And Peter O'Keeffe won two big singles and then took three points with Pat Murray in the foursomes. The experience of guys like Junior, Pat and Karl Bornemann definitely helped the team and it was great to have Clancy Bowe back in the side after three years out concentrating on his studies."
Ireland will host the Home International Matches at Baltray from September 19-21 and there were four new caps in the side announced yesterday evening with Galway’s Joe Lyons, the 35-year-old Offaly native, getting the call up alongside young guns Paul O’Hanlon, Paul Cutler and Cian Curley.
Rory McIlroy and Richard Kilpatrick, who played a vital role in the six-man team that won the European Amateur Team Championship for the first time in 20 years last month, are unavailable for selection as they take their first steps into the world of professional golf.
But Irish team captain Michael Burns feels confident that he has the strength in depth to build on the momentum gained at Western Gailes.
“We have lost Rory and Richard but we have players who can take up the baton and carry on,” Burns said. “Rory has been a great ambassador for Irish golf and raised the game of the rest of the players. There is no loss, we have actually benefited from having Rory and I think the players are up for it.”
Golfsure Interprovincial Matches, Co Louth.
Final standings: 1, Munster 2 pts (22 matches); 2, Leinster 2 pts (21); 3,Ulster 1 pt (18); 4, Connacht 1 pt (17).
Munster 8 1/2 Connacht 4 1/2 (Munster names first)
Foursomes: P Murray & P O’Keeffe bt J Lyons & C O’Malley 6/5; S Power & J Morris bt M Lavelle & G McDermott 5/4; K Bornemann & S Moloney bt D Coyne & D Scully 6/4; C McNamara & C Bowe halved with K McDonagh & C O’Connor.
Singles: P O’Keeffe bt J Lyons 6/5; P Murray lost to C O’Malley 1 hole; C Bowe bt D Coyne 2/1; C McNamara lost to M Lavelle 3/2; S Power halved with G McDermott; J Morris halved with C O’Connor; G O’Flaherty bt K McDonagh 3/2; K Bornemann bt D Scully 4/3; T O’Flynn lost to S Kelly 3/2.
Leinster 7 Ulster 6 (Leinster names first)
Foursomes: S Lowry & P O’Hanlon bt R Kilpatrick & C Doran 2 holes; S Ward & S Grant lost to G Shaw & S Crowe 2/1; C Curley & N O Briain bt M Sinclair & N Grant 3/2; N Kearney & N Gorey bt F Rafferty & P Cutler 4/3.
Singles: S Lowry lost to R Kilpatrick 2/1; S Ward lost to G Shaw 2/1; P O’Hanlon bt C Doran 5/4; C Curley lost to P Cutler 2/1; N Kearney lost to N Grant 1 hole; D Lernihan bt C McAleavey 3/2; S Grant bt F Rafferty 2/1; N Gorey bt R Leonard 2/1; N O Briain lost to M Sinclair 5/4.
The team to represent Ireland in the Home Internationals at Co Louth Golf Club on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 19th, 20th and 21st September is:
Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye), Darren Crowe (Dunmurry), Cian Curley (Newlands), Paul Cutler (Portstewart), Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin ), Shane Lowry ( Esker Hills), Joe Lyons (Galway), Pat Murray (Limerick), Paul O’Hanlon (Curragh), Gareth Shaw (Lisburn), Simon Ward (Co. Louth ). Captain: Michael Burns (Tramore). 1st Reserve: Cian McNamara (Limerick); 2nd Reserve: Neil O Briain (Royal Dublin).