Ireland facing wooden spoon in title defence


For the second successive day, Ireland failed to spark in the singles and crashed to a 9.5 - 5.5 defeat to leave England on the verge of victory in the Home Internationals at Hillside.

Leading 3.5 to 1.5 at lunch, Kevin Flanagan's charges were crushed 8-2 in the singles with Alan Dunbar the only player capable of getting a win.

“That was another unbelievable win,” said England captain Colin Edwards. “We played poorly in the foursomes but to come back and win eight of the singles against a strong Irish side was incredible.

“We don’t seem to have it right in the foursomes but hopefully it will be better tomorrow against Wales. We have a great chance of the title but Wales will be disappointed at their result today so I’m expecting another hard match.”

According to the official website:

At one stage in the afternoon England seemed to be on the ropes with the Irish getting off to a solid start. But the tide gradually turned and the England wins flowed.

Matt Haines found himself 3-down to the unbeaten Pat Murray but got back to all-square through 11. The Kent man eased ahead on the 13th and stayed there to win 2 and 1.

The second match saw England’s only setback and strangely it was Dale Whitnell, who lost his unbeaten tag to Alan Dunbar. The match turned on Dunbar winning three holes in a row from the seventh and although Whitnell got it back to one he eventually lost on the final green.

Sam Hutsby was another who fell behind early on to Paul Cutler but he was ahead by the turn, got to 3-up after 12 and chalked up a second singles win 2 and 1.

Chris Paisley, who sat out the foursomes, lost the opening hole but was another to turn it around against Connor Doran and went on to win comfortably 5 and 3, while Tommy Fleetwood, with a good local gallery following his progress, was always in front against Kelan McDonagh, winning 5 and 4.

Jamie Abbott secured his first victory with a final green win over Cian Curley but he was also down in the early stages, but Luke Goddard always seemed in control against Dara Lernihan, winning 3 and 2.

The final green was also the scene for James Robinson and Stiggy Hodgson to claim halves against Niall Kearney and Robert Cannon respectively, while Farren Keenan won on the 16th against Simon Ward.

Scotland are still in with a chance of adding the title to their World and European crowns after overwhelmed Wales 12.5 - 2.5 having taken all five morning foursomes.

Their captain Scott Knowles was delighted with his side. “That must go down as one of our biggest ever wins,” he said. “You always like to come away with a clean sheet in the foursomes but it is never easy. But our boys played to a high standard

“We are still in with a chance of the title but it isn’t completely in our hands. All we can do is win as many matches as possible and hope that England slip up.”

There was little joy for the Welsh apart from a 4 and 3 win for Oliver Farr over Ross Kellett. Otherwise it was total Tartan supremacy.

Gavin Dear and David Law both gave Scotland wins on the 18th green against Luke Thomas and Rhys Enoch respectively, while Wallace Booth beat Adam Runcie 2 and 1.

That sealed the Scots overall victory but there were still wins to come for Steven McEwan, who only lost one hole in beating Rhys Pugh 4 and 3, for James Byrne, who overcame Nigel Edwards 3 and 2, and for Paul O’Hara, who lost the opening hole to Alistair Jones but took the second, fourth and sixth on his way to a 3 and 2 triumph.

However, the Welsh kept battling and Joe Vickery won the 18th to grab a half against James White, while Ben Westgate also had to settle for a half after losing the final hole against Michael Stewart.

In the final match, James Frazer secured another half for Wales after winning the 12th hole against Glenn Campbell to go all-square and battling through the final six holes for a share of the spoils.

In tomorrow’s final matches, England play Wales and Scotland meet Ireland.