Muskerry end 61-year wait for AIG Barton Shield

Dave O'Donovan (Muskerry) celebrate their win on the 18th green to clinch victory in the final of the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (18/09/2014). Picture by Pat Cashman

Muskerry made a long-awaited return to the top table of Irish team golf when they won the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House, writes the GUI.*

When Niall Gorey rolled in a three-footer for par on 18, he bridged a 61-year gap for the Cork club, who had been waiting since 1953 for a moment like this. Gorey's partner, Dave O'Donovan, had been dreaming of an All-Ireland with Muskerry since he first wore the club jumper 22 years ago.

“I played senior interpros and I've won scratch cups and the like but this was always the dream,” said 36-year-old O'Donovan, who won a Munster Senior Cup with Muskerry three years ago.

Niall Gorey and Dave O'Donovan (Muskerry) celebrate their win on the 18th green to clinch victory in the final of the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (17/09/2014). Picture by Pat Cashman

“We got to the All-Ireland (Senior Cup) semi-final in 2011 but this was our year. (Daniel) Hallissey held a putt in our third match, a nine-footer on the 19th to stay in it against Mallow. Cork golf club had a chip and a putt to beat us on the last in the second round, they didn't take it. Maybe it's destiny,” said O'Donovan.

If they were looking for omens, Niall Gorey wasn't going to reveal them. Reading through the records the night before the final, he discovered that Muskerry had beaten Warrenpoint in the 1953 final. Knowing O'Donovan as well he does, Gorey had good reason to keep quiet.

“I said nothing because yer man's so superstitious,” said Gorey. “I'm working for MMI, ironically, the company that make the gold medals. I had one in my hands a few weeks ago and I was going to send a picture to Dave but you can't say a word to him. Ironically I'm going to win a medal that was made by the company I work for, which is great.”

Gorey has been a regular lodger at O'Donovan's house this summer, travelling back and forth from his home in Kildare for Muskerry's matches in Munster, and the bond they have developed throughout the season proved unbreakable in the final against Warrenpoint.

Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint) reacts to a missed putt on the 16th green in the final of the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (18/09/2014). Picture by Pat Cashman

Birdies on the first two holes had them off to the perfect start. Four under after another brace of birdies on six and seven, they held a four-hole lead at the turn when O'Donovan holed a 12-footer for par while Stephen Coulter's birdie putt lipped out for Warrenpoint.

In the second game, Ryan Gribben and Colm Campbell Jnr were four up after eight but Daniel Hallissey holed a 25-foot birdie to take some momentum into the back nine. Another birdie on 15 for the Muskerry pair provoked a large cheer from their supporters as they edged closer to victory but Gorey and O'Donovan made bogey shortly afterwards on 16 to give Warrenpoint some hope.

Any chance of a Warrenpoint comeback ended with an errant drive on 17 that went out of bounds and although William Hanna pitched stone dead for par on 18, Gorey's putt for a half was enough to secure the title.

“We were even saying it coming down the (18th) fairway, 'Jesus you wouldn't swap this for anything',” said Gorey. “I'd give back my Ireland stuff, give back the lot just to make four here and get out of here.”

With Gorey safely in for par, Muskerry celebrated like it was 1953 all over again.

Muskerry Golf Club - AIG Barton Shield winners 2014. Picture by Pat Cashman

AIG Barton Shield Final

Muskerry bt Warrenpoint 3 holes (Muskerry names first)

  1. Niall Gorey & Dave O'Donovan bt William Hanna & Stephen Coulter 5 holes;
  2. Daniel Hallissey & John Waldron lost to Colm Campbell & Ryan Gribben 2 holes
Friday also sees the Senior Cup semi-finals between Rosslare and Tramore and holders Co Sligo and Banbridge as well as the semi-finals of the Jimmy Bruen Shield —  Lisselan versus Strandhill and Strabane versus Waterford

Friday 19th September, 2014

AIG Senior Cup Semi Finals

8.30am — Rosslare v Tramore (Rosslare names first)

  1. Gary Collins v Robin Dawson;
  2. Mark Mullen v Paul Flynn;
  3. Tony O’Leary v Chris Butler;
  4. Paul Murphy v Alan Thomas;
  5. Ian Lynch v David Kiely

9.20am County Sligo v Banbridge (County Sligo names first)

  1. Declan Reidy v Jim Carvill;
  2. Sean Flanagan v Connor Doran;
  3. Ruairi O’Connor v Colin Wilton;
  4. Steffan O’Hara v Rory Leonard;
  5. Mark Morrissey v Stefan Greenberg

*Courtesy GUI/AIG