McGinley speech inspires Grehan to Mullingar glory
 Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) winner of the 2017 Sherry Fitzgerald - Davitt & Davitt sponsored Mullingar Scratch Trophy at Mullingar Golf Club. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) winner of the 2017 Sherry Fitzgerald - Davitt & Davitt sponsored Mullingar Scratch Trophy at Mullingar Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Tullamore's Stuart Grehan confessed that hearing an inspirational speech from Paul McGinley on the importance of winning at home motivated him to enter the Mullingar Scratch Trophy at the last minute and romp to an impressive four-shot victory.

The 24-year old Walker Cup hopeful was one of 23 former South of Ireland champions who remained on at Lahinch last week for a special past champions' day to mark the club's 125th anniversary.

But it was only after hearing an after dinner speech by 1991 South of Ireland and Mullingar Scratch Trophy winner McGinley, underlining the importance for a prospective tour professional of winning the big Irish events, that he decided to enter the much-loved 72-hole strokeplay classic.

 Winner Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) bunkered at the 15th green during the final round of the 2017 Sherry Fitzgerald - Davitt & Davitt sponsored Mullingar Scratch Trophy at Mullingar Golf Club. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Winner Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) bunkered at the 15th green during the final round of the 2017 Sherry Fitzgerald - Davitt & Davitt sponsored Mullingar Scratch Trophy at Mullingar Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Saddened that Ireland's iconic events were losing their lustre before a stellar field assembled at Lahinch, McGinley said: "It's not about finishing seventh in the Brabazon or the Lytham and getting your world ranking points up. It's about winning. 

"It's about winning in Carlow or Mullingar. It's about being Irish champion or South of Ireland champion or East of Ireland champion."

Leading the Sherry Fitzgerald Davitt & Davitt sponsored event by seven shots overnight after a pair of 67s, Grehan carded a four under 68 in yesterday morning's third round to maintain a seven shot advantage, then closed with a 71 to win by four shots from Tramore's Robin Dawson on 15-under par 283.

"It's brilliant," Grehan said. "I'm really happy. I was very nervous starting the day, thinking, 'Just don't blow it.' 

 John Tweedle (Captain, Mullingar Golf Club) presenting Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) with the 2017 Sherry Fitzgerald - Davitt & Davitt sponsored Mullingar Scratch Trophy after his victory at Mullingar Golf Club. Also in the picture are (from left) Aidan Davitt (Davitt & Davitt), Robin Dawson (Tramore) and John Moloughney (President Elect, GUI). Picture by  Pat Cashman

John Tweedle (Captain, Mullingar Golf Club) presenting Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) with the 2017 Sherry Fitzgerald - Davitt & Davitt sponsored Mullingar Scratch Trophy after his victory at Mullingar Golf Club. Also in the picture are (from left) Aidan Davitt (Davitt & Davitt), Robin Dawson (Tramore) and John Moloughney (President Elect, GUI). Picture by Pat Cashman

"But I had a great 68 in the morning and after that I was cruising for the rest of the day, so I am delighted to win."

Grehan was a late addition to the field and admitted that he only changed his mind after hearing McGinley's passionate after-dinner speech in Lahinch.

He also realised after encouragement from the past champions around the table in Lahinch that the 72-hole strokeplay test in Mullingar would be perfect preparation for next week’s US Amateur Championship in Los Angeles (Bel-Air and Riviera Country Club host the qualifying rounds for the matchplay phase at the latter.)

"That's one of the main reasons I played here," Grehan said of the prospect of top class parkland golf before his trip to California, where he may need a big week to secure his Walker Cup place. 

"But Paul McGinley's speech really got me going. I'm delighted I played."

Despite finishing double bogey, bogey, Grehan's 15-under par total was just two strokes short of the record, 17-under 271 aggregate carded by Shane Lowry en route to victory at a revamped Mullingar in 2008.

"There are some great names on the trophy so it's fantastic to see my name there beside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Shane," Grehan said. "I'm in good company."

Mullingar Scratch Trophy (sponsored by Sherry Fitzgerald Davitt & Davitt), Mullingar GC (Par 72)

Detailed scores

Final

273 S Grehan (Tullamore) 67 67 68 71

277 R Dawson (Tramore) 69 72 70 66

282 G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 71 70 68 73

286 J Yates (Naas) 73 72 72 69

287 T McLarnon (Massereene) 68 77 72 70

290 H Foley (Royal Dublin) 72 75 72 71

291 E O’Brien (Clontarf) 74 75 71 71; N Grant (Shandon Park) 74 73 71 73

292 R Brazill (Naas) 79 72 70 71; J Hickey (Cork) 79 71 71 71

293 R McKinstry (Cairndhu) 75 79 71 68; J Lyons (Galway) 72 73 77 71

294 R Mullarney (Galway) 77 73 71 73; C Purcell (Portmarnock) 73 73 78 70; D Lowry (Corrstown) 70 73 74 77

295 D Morgan (Carton House) 79 75 70 71; M Ryan (New Ross) 74 75 75 71

296 P O’ Keeffe (Douglas) 74 75 74 73; D Morley (Oughterard) 72 76 72 76

297 R Dutton (Tandragee) 77 73 74 73; B Anderson (Royal Dublin) 76 75 74 72; P Coughlan (Castleknock) 75 72 76 74; R O’Connor (Co.Sligo) 72 76 75 74

298 J Sugrue (Mallow) 79 74 70 75; J Murphy (Kinsale) 77 76 76 69

299 G Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 79 75 71 74; S Cullen (Slieve Russell) 72 78 72 77

300 T Ford (Co.Sligo) 82 73 75 70; D Murphy (Portarlington) 79 75 73 73; R Pierse (Grange) 77 74 75 74; M Boucher (Carton House) 75 79 72 74; S McDermott (Cavan) 75 74 73 78

301 B McGarry (Birr) 80 73 69 79; G Carr (Mullingar) 77 75 77 72; P Connolly (Killeen Castle) 73 81 74 73; E Leonard (Killiney) 72 77 78 74

302 C Cunningham (Carton House) 77 74 73 78; A McCormack (Castletroy) 76 78 72 76; G Ward (Kinsale) 76 75 74 77

305 L Grehan (Mullingar) 78 74 76 77

307 J Knipe (Royal Portrush) 80 75 78 74; C Butler (Kinsale) 79 76 82 70

308 C Hughes (Galway) 80 75 74 79; P Carey (Nenagh) 78 74 78 78; N McKinstry (Cairndhu) 76 77 76 79

311 J Fletcher (Warrenpoint) 78 75 78 80

312 A Smith (Mullingar) 78 78 75 81

313 R McKinley (Mullingar) 78 76 76 83

314 L O ‘Sullivan (The Heritage) 82 73 82 77

RTD K Murphy (Charlesland) 74 81 83; R Williamson (Holywood) 80 70

CUT

156 A Doran (Ardee) 78 78; 

157 C Feeney (Co. Sligo) 82 75; M McCormack (Ashbourne) 81 76; L McMillan (Millicent) 79 78; D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 77 80; K Murray (Charlesland) 76 81; 

158 A McDaid (Palmerstown) 83 75; J Temple (Portmarnock) 79 79; 

159 S Brady (Galway) 83 76; J Fox (Portmarnock) 82 77; D Tynan (Mullingar) 82 77; J Swarbrigg (Mullingar) 82 77; T Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 81 78; 

160 T Plunkett (Mullingar) 83 77; D Brophy (Castleknock) 81 79; S McGlynn (Portmarnock) 80 80; D Sweeney (Westmanstown) 78 82; J Whelan (Newlands) 76 84; 

161 T O’Connor (Athlone) 82 79; C Dowling (Mallow) 81 80; 

162 M McKinstry (Cairndhu) 84 78; C Melvin (Corrstown) 81 81; J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 76 86; 

163 E O’Donovan (Dun Laoghaire) 82 81; B Doran (Baltinglass) 80 83; M McCormack (Mullingar) 79 84; S Sweeney (Vista Valencia) 76 87; 

164 H Gillivan (Westport) 86 78; 

165 D Brady (Co. Sligo) 86 79; S O’Connor (Carton House) 83 82; P Burke (Mullingar) 83 82; 

167 S Murtagh (Mullingar) 88 79; 

171 D O’Neill (Carton House) 84 87 

WD J Pierse (Portmarnock) 75 WD; R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 80 WD; C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire) 79 WD

NR A Grant (Dundalk)

RTD J O’Rourke (Mullingar); C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown)