Castletroy won the AIG Junior Cup title after a dramatic surge on the back nine of a thrilling All-Ireland final at Carton House, writes the GUI.
The match was in the balance the whole way through but when Jonathan McDonnell recovered a three-hole deficit on the last four holes to secure a miraculous win in the opening game, the Limerick men had the decisive point.
“I knew it was down to my match,” said McDonnell, a 20-year-old Economics and Finance student at UCD. “It's definitely the best day I have ever had in golf.”
McDonnell's decision to stay at home this summer instead of taking up a J1 visa in the United States was vindicated after leading his club to victory in the AIG Junior Cup for the first time since 1972.
Castletroy, who are captained by McDonnell's father Johnny, came good at just the right time to see off the Castle in a closely fought final. The match was level at the turn, with Castle ahead in two games while Castletroy were in command of the two back matches.
At that stage it looked like Ben Murray's game against Colm Geary would be crucial as they turned all square and when Murray birdied 10 to go ahead, Castle had the momentum.
By the time the opening game reached the 15th tee, Castle's Harry Gleeson had pulled three clear but he struggled on the way home as McDonnell made four priceless pars to secure what turned out to be the winning point.
“I am so happy, over the moon,” said McDonnell, who also plays rugby with the UCD under-20s.
“A lot of us decided not to go away for the summer because we knew there was something special about this team.”
While McDonnell's win in the top match was pivotal, Brendan Reidy and Michael Murphy had come good at the back of the order - both winning comfortably on 16. Murphy was in control of his game from the start while Reidy made a telling birdie on the ninth to go go two ahead after 18-year-old Kevin Moran had holed a long-range putt for par.
Victory for the Limerick men sparked huge celebrations as they collected their first green pennant since winning the Jimmy Bruen Shield in 1986.
And it was a proud moment for GUI President, Liam Martin, as he had the honour of presenting the Junior Cup to his home club while his wife, Anna, led the revelry with a stirring rendition of the famous Limerick song, There is an Isle.
AIG Junior Cup Final
Castletroy 3.5, Castle 1.5 (Castletroy names first)
- Jonathan McDonnell bt Harry Gleeson 1 hole;
- Colm Geary lost to Ben Murray 2/1;
- Keith Bermingham halved with Fergal Walsh;
- Brendan Reidy bt Kevin Moran 4/2;
- Michael Murphy bt Gerry Moran 4/2.