Motivated Galway ready for Warrenpoint; Grange seek end to 71-year drought
 Adrian Walsh (Ballybunion) holes the winning putt on the 20th green in the AIG Junior Cup at semi-final win over Loughrea at Carton House (20/09/2017). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Adrian Walsh (Ballybunion) holes the winning putt on the 20th green in the AIG Junior Cup at semi-final win over Loughrea at Carton House (20/09/2017). Picture by Pat Cashman

An inspirational speech from All Ireland Hurling title winner Joe Canning could prove prophetic when Galway try to make it third time lucky in the AIG Barton Shield Final at Carton House today.

The Connacht champions have lost the last two finals of the blue riband foursomes event, going down to Royal Dublin in 2015 and Warrenpoint last year.

A four-hole win over Tralee means they again face Warrenpoint — two-hole winners over Castle — in a revenge final.

And Canning reminded them in a specially arranged pep talk last weekend that the club's strength in depth means the quartet who tee it up today will be firing on all cylinders.

 Joe Lyons (Galway) driving at the 8th tee in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (20/09/2017). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Joe Lyons (Galway) driving at the 8th tee in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (20/09/2017). Picture by Pat Cashman

"Joe made a very good point about the Galway hurlers this year, saying that the big thing for them was that the guys in training were pushing them hard," said veteran Joe Lyons after he partnered teenager Luke O'Neill to a one-hole win over Darren O'Sullivan and Eoghan O'Donnell.

“Every evening they trained, he said, there was depth there. So, basically, there’s no-one there too comfortable in their position, and we've guys on the sidelines who would be willing and more than capable of coming in for any of us.”  

As it turns out, Galway go with an unchanged line-up for today's decider with Ronan Mullarney and Liam Power —three-under as they beat Fergal O'Sullivan and Rory Hill by three holes— back in action against Ryan Gribben and Irish international Colm Campbell.

Victory would be sweet for Galway, who are going for a rare double as they are also in AIG Senior Cup semi-final action against Royal Portrush tomorrow.

Lyons said: "Look, we've been here before. Warrenpoint seem to be going well out there, they’re two very good teams, but we wouldn't fear either of them, that's the thing. 

 Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) driving at the 13th tee in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House  (20/09/2017). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) driving at the 13th tee in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House  (20/09/2017). Picture by Pat Cashman

“It's all on the day. If we turn up on the day we’re a match for anybody and with a bit of luck it will go our way. 

“We’ve Senior Cup to think of at the end of the week as well.”   

As for any change in dynamic considering they are coming up against the side that beat them last year, Lyons said: “I don't think so. Just go out and play golf and get it around in as low a number of shots as possible and do our best. It’s the same ball going in the same hole. 

“I don't think it will change anything but I suppose in one sense we might be a little more motivated given the fact they beat us last year.

 Liam Power and Ronan Mullarney (Galway) with their caddy David Mortimer on the 7th green in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (20/09/2017). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Liam Power and Ronan Mullarney (Galway) with their caddy David Mortimer on the 7th green in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today (20/09/2017). Picture by Pat Cashman

"It’s not that there was any ill feeling or anything, the game was played in great spirit and we know all the guys up there and they're a nice bunch of lads, but at the same time, you'd like to get your own back."  

Warrenpoint are determined to retain their title after the disappointment of their AIG Senior Cup failure in Ulster.

While Stephen Coulter and Paul Reavey lost by two holes to Alan Lowry and Jack Walsh, Campbell and Ryan Gribben beat Alex Gleeson and Robert Moran by four holes.

“It was a good tight game. We knew when we saw the draw that Castle are a good team and we knew it was going to be a tight game," Campbell said. "We’re delighted to get over the line and get the job done.

"We got off to a nice start, I chipped in on the second form the front edge of the green after three-putting the first for a half and then we held some really good putts from there on.

"We were very comfortable and we never really looked in trouble. Ryan held a couple of really good putts — on 14 and 16 — two important par threes and that just kept momentum with us. We managed to make a nice birdie there on 17 to go four-up playing the last."

If he's worried about Galway, he's not letting on.

“We know Galway are going to be out for revenge tomorrow and they have a very good side but I think if we play to our capabilities we will be very difficult to beat,” Campbell said.

In the AIG Junior Cup, Grange will be bidding to end their 71-year wait since their last victory in the event when they face Ballybunion in the decider.

The Rathfarnham club had scratch men Jack and Robbie Pierse as caddies as they saw off Malone 3.5-1.5 with Paul McGinley’s nephew, Niall McCormick, taking the 15th and 17th to clinch the winning point with a gutsy, 2 and 1 win over David Fleming.

Adrian Walsh, an All Ireland winner in the Jimmy Bruen Shield two years ago, was the hero for the Kerry club as he sank a clutch, five-footer for par on the 20th in a 3.5-1.5 win over Loughrea.

His opponent,  David Byrnes, ran his birdie putt 12 feet past and missed the return for par as Walsh left his 30 footer five feet short but made his match-winner.

"It'd be unreal," Walsh said of the prospect of winning the title. "We won the Bruen two years ago. I don't think there are too many people in the club with two All-Irelands so it would be nice to bring one home, especially in the Junior Cup because you're on your own.

In Bruen you have a partner with you the whole time. It would be a sweet one to bring home the Junior Cup."

He certainly sounds up for the fight when he meets McCormick today.

"Ready to go again," Walsh grinned. "Roaring to go. Sure it can only give me confidence when you go down 20th and come out the right side of the match. So I'm raring to go tomorrow."

AIG Cups and Shields, National Finals, Carton House (O'Meara Course), Maynooth

AIG Barton Shield, Semi-finals

Galway beat Tralee by 4 holes

  1. Joe Lyons & Luke O'Neill beat Darren O'Sullivan & Eoghan O'Donnell by 1 hole;
  2. Ronan Mullarney & Liam Power beat Fergal O'Sullivan & Rory Hill by three holes.

Warrenpoint beat Castle by 2 Holes

  1. Stephen Coulter & Paul Reavey lost to Alan Lowry & Jack Walsh by 2 holes;
  2. Colm Campbell & Ryan Gribben beat Alex Gleeson & Robert Moran by 4 holes

AIG Junior Cup, Semi-Finals

Ballybunion 3.5, Loughrea 1.5 (Ballybunion names first)

  1. Philip Byrne bt Padraig Hynes 2 holes;
  2. Frank Geary Jnr. lost to Evan O'Doherty 3/1;
  3. Ronan Cross bt Paddy McMahon 4/3;
  4. Adrian Walsh bt David Byrnes 20th;
  5. Brian Slattery halved with Brendan Dunne.

Grange 3.5, Malone 1.5 (Grange names first)

  1. Kevin O'Meara bt Ben Brennan 2/1;
  2. Paul McNiff lost to Luke O'Sullivan 3/2;
  3. Graham McDonnell halved with James Millar;
  4. Niall McCormick bt David Fleming 2/1;
  5. Jack Ward bt Jamie Thompson 7/6

AIG Pierce Purcell Shield

Semi-Finals, Thursday 21st September

8am Royal Curragh v Moyola Park (Royal Curragh names first)

  1. Michael Cleary & Brendan Mullins v Seamus Graffin & Timothy Steele;
  2. Eddie Trant & Jimmy Murphy v Malachy McKee & Stephen Heaney;
  3. Anthony Ryan & Thomas Powell v Bernard O'Kane & Gerald Loughlin;
  4. Martin Whitty & Bill Geraghty v Conor McKenna & Tony Johnston;
  5. Brenny Murphy & Paul Dempsey v Desmond Cleary & Martin McNabb

8.45am Thurles v Portumna (Thurles names first)

  1. Tommy Quigley & Shane Quigley v Dean Cox & Brian Mooney;
  2. Stephen Quigley & Martin Fahy v Padric Cahalan & Alan Hayes;
  3. John Looby & Gerard Maguire v Dan Hogan & Padraig Hogan;
  4. Pat Coote & Sean Sherlock v Enda Quigley & Alan Page;
  5. Johnny Nevin & Adrian O'Keefe v Sean McEntee & David Hughes

AIG Junior Cup Final

10.45am Ballybunion v Grange (Ballybunion names first)

  1. Philip Byrne v Kevin O'Meara;
  2. Frank Geary Jnr v Paul McNiff;
  3. Ronan Cross v Graham McDonnell;
  4. Adrian Walsh v Niall McCormick;
  5. Brian Slattery v Jack Ward

AIG Barton Shield Final

11.30am - Galway v Warrenpoint (Galway names first)

  1. Joe Lyons & Luke O'Neill v Stephen Coulter & Paul Reavey
  2. Ronan Mullarney & Liam Power v Colm Campbell & Ryan Gribben