Tough day for Munster at Carton House

Jeff Hopkins (Royal Dublin) lining up his putt on the 13th green during the AIG Barton Shield semi final  at Carton House. Picture by Pat Cashman

It was a tough day for Munster golf as Muskerry and Douglas crashed out in their respective semi-finals of the AIG Cups and Shields National Finals at Carton House.

While Douglas were pipped on the 19th in the decisive match in the Junior Cup, losing 3-2 to combative Ulster champions Greenisland, Barton Shield holders Muskerry were soundly beaten by seven holes by an impressive Royal Dublin.

The men from the Dollymount links, winners of the title for the last time in 1968 but beaten in the semi-finals last year, go on now to face Galway in the final after the Connacht champions edged past North West by two holes.

Shaun Carter (Royal Dublin) reacts to a missed putt on the 16th green during the AIG Barton Shield semi final  at Carton House. Picture by Pat Cashman

“They were very good,” said Muskerry’s Niall Gorey, who partnered Dave O’Donovan but ended up on the wrong end of a four-hole defeat to senior interprovincials Shaun Carter and Jeff Hopkins. 

“They did to us what me and Davey did to everyone last year. We just didn’t create enough chances and they didn’t make mistakes.”

Carter and Hopkins were never behind and took a stranglehold on the match around the turn with a win at the ninth putting them two up before they claimed the 10th and 11th to open up a four hole lead

Colm Hughes (Galway) holes his putt on the 13th green during the AIG Barton Shield semi final  at Carton House. Picture by Pat Cashman

“Those holes were key,” Gorey said. “They made a great up and down on the eighth for birdie to stay one up and I missed from five feet on nine for a half. Then we bogeyed 10 and 11 and were four down in the blink of an eye. 

“We birdied the 12th to get one back and felt we had to birdie 13 as well to get the momentum on our side but we didn’t. Then we made a mess of 14.”

He added: “They are very good, I don’t think they made a bogey, and we weren’t as sharp as normally would be and that cost us. You need to be under par to have a chance at this level.”

Hopkins confessed that they were aggressive from the start, adding: “We kept the foot on the gas and kept them under pressure. We are always ahead, always first on the green, or closest to the hole, so they were on the back foot.”

Joe Lyons and Stephen Brady (Galway) lining up their putt on the 12th green during the AIG Barton Shield semi final  at Carton House. Picture by Pat Cashman

Galway’s Joe Lyons and Stephen Brady beat Ryan Gribben and Kealan Quigg by three holes and Ronan Mullarney holed two great birdie putts late in the day alongside Colm Hughes to lose by just one hole to Kyle McCarron and Garrett Mallon, as they Connacht champions saw off North West by two holes.

“Royal Dublin look very strong and we’ll have to play above ourselves to beat them,” said Lyons. who believes Galway's regular appearances at Cups and Shields finals will help their chances. “We will be big underdogs to beat them but that’s the way it is. 

“We got up early and never relinquished the lead and while Ronan and Colm were down early, we knew they were gradually coming back and that gave us a bit of an extra boost to keep going.

“We won three up playing reasonable golf - level for 18 or so. It was going to take very good golf to beat it.”

Fergus Rothwell (Westport) bunkered at the 17th green during the AIG Junior Cup semi final. Picture by Pat Cashman

The Junior Cup semi-finals were both thrillers with Connacht champions Westport hanging on to beat Dundalk 3-2 with anchor man Fergus Rothwell, four up with four to go, surviving a late comeback by Aaron King to win by one hole.

Sadly for Munster golf, the coin fell the other way for a young Douglas team, who were up in four of the five matches at one stage but eventually fell to minnows Greenisland 3-2 with the decisive match going to the 19th.

It turned out to be the first of the five matches that went to the 19th with Greenisland’s Andrew Ervine emerging triumphant when he got up and down from short of the green, chipping close to set up a winning par-five as Darren Hourihan found sand in three and couldn't get up and down.

Ryan Gribben (North West) driving at the 14th tee during the AIG Barton Shield semi final. Picture by Pat Cashman

Hourihan was two up after 12, lost the next three holes to go one down but then won the 17th to square the match before falling in sudden-death.

“It’s an unbelievable achievement for us,” said Greenisland captain Johnny Greer, who at 21 is easily the youngest team leader at Carton House this week. 

“We have won Ulster pennants but never an All Ireland . We were in the All Ireland Jimmy Bruen final in 2003 but lost to Castle but we have never got this far in Junior Cup so we are excited about tomorrow.”

Kealan Quigg (North West) pitching to the 12th green during the AIG Barton Shield semi final. Picture by Pat Cashman

Douglas were disappointed by captain Derek Byrne was philosophical in defeat.

“We had our chances and didn’t thank them and we have to suffer the consequences,” he said. “Greenisland had their chances and took them, so their victory is well deserved and congratulations to them

“That’s sport. Sport is a journey and it is about a journey. Sadly, we’ll remember this defeat more than the Munster title this year but these lads have won three Munster titles in two years which is a big success. 

“Six of the eight on here are under 19. They all played in the Fred Daly national finals last year and four played today. So they are young guns and they will be back.”

AIG Cups and Shields Finals, Carton House (O’Meara Course)

AIG Barton Shield Semi Finals

Galway bt North West 2 holes

  1. Joe Lyons & Stephen Brady bt Kealan Quigg & Ryan Gribben 3 holes
  2. Ronan Mullarney & Colm Hughes lost to Garrett Mallon & Kyle McCarron 1 hole.

Royal Dublin bt Muskerry 7 holes

  1. Shaun Carter & Jeff Hopkins bt Niall Gorey & Dave O'Donovan 4 holes
  2. Ian O'Rourke & Barry Anderson bt Daniel Hallisey & Shane Whooley 3 holes.

AIG Junior Cup Semi Finals

Westport 3 Dundalk 2

  1. Tony Bree bt Ciaran Sheridan 2/1
  2. Anto Browne lost to Eoin Murphy 19th
  3. David Scott lost to Ricky Newell 3/2
  4. Sam Gillivan bt Josh Mackin 4/3
  5. Fergus Rothwell bt Aaron King 1 hole.

Greenisland 3 Douglas 2

  1. Andrew Ervine bt Darren Hourihan 19th
  2. Jamie Campbell bt Adam McSweeney 4/3
  3. John Armstrong lost to Philip Quinn 4/3
  4. David Winning lost to John Boylan 6/5
  5. Michael Hayes bt Barry O'Sullivan Geaney 1 hole

Today - Thursday 17 September

AIG Pierce Purcell Shield Semi Finals

(8.0) Grange v Thurles: 

  1. Mark Darmody & Dean Costello v Paddy Dwan & John Dwan
  2. Darach Connolly & Brian Tuite v Martin Fahy & Gerard Ryan
  3. William O'Dwyer & Niall Barry v John  McGrath & Tommy Quigley
  4. Michael Cronin Jnr & Robin Benn v Ciaran Clohessy v Jack Looby
  5. John Nolan & Brendan P Lehane v Shane Quigley & Stephen Quigley 

(8.45) Nuremore v Gort

  1. Shane Cassidy & Noel McNally v Pat Curtis & Michael O’Dell
  2. James McGeown & Jason Hughes v Gerard Connors & David O'Dell
  3. Seamus Finnegan & Ken Murray v Brendan McHugh & Matthew O'Halloran
  4. Cormac Lane & Brian Busby v David Daly & Michael Ryan
  5. Stephen Quigley & Pat Sheridan v John Moylan & John Tierney

(10.45) AIG Junior Cup Final: Westport v Greenisland

  1. Tony Bree v Andrew Ervine
  2. Anto Browne v Jamie Campbell
  3. David Scott v John Armstrong
  4. Sam Gillivan v David Winning
  5. Fergus Rothwell v Michael Hayes

(11.30) AIG Barton Shield Final: Galway v Royal Dublin

  1. Joe Lyons & Stephen Brady v Jeff Hopkins & Shaun Carter
  2. Ronan Mullarney  & Colm Hughes v Barry Anderson & Ian O’Rourke.