Ballybunion’s Brian Slattery holed an outrageous 100-foot par putt on the 17th to come back from the dead and give Ballybunion a dramatic 3-2 over Grange in the AIG Junior Cup final at Carton House.
As defending champions Warrenpoint birdied the 16th twice in the space of 10 minutes to hand Galway their third successive AIG Barton Shield defeat by four holes, the Kerryman rallied from three down after eight to beat Jack Ward 2 and 1 and give the men from the Kingdom the title for the second time in five years.
"We call him the nightwatchman," said Ballybunion assistant manager, Des O'Donnell, of Slattery's solid display at No 5. "That's why he's there."
Grange were looking good for their first Junior Cup win since 1946 when Kevin O'Meara won 6 and 5 in the top match and Graham McDonnell triumphed by 7 and 5 at No 3.
With Ward three up heading for the turn, a champagne moment looked imminent.
But Slattery (37) had other ideas, winning the ninth in birdie, the 10th and 13th in par and the 14th with another birdie to go one up.
"I wasn't playing well early on," he said. "My long putting wasn't great, and Jack was a fantastic golfer.
"I didn't put any pressure on him really, and he got his own way. But I got a couple of long putts, and it went our way at the finish. As you saw at 17, if I went back there again I wouldn't be holing that length of putt again. You can hit the putt and it can take a jump but five feet out it looked in the middle of the hole. Thankfully it stayed there. "
With Ballybunion’s Frank Geary Jnr and Adrian Walsh beating Paul McNiff and Niall McCormick by 3 and 2 respectively to make it 2-2, it all came down to Slattery and Ward in the final match.
It didn’t disappoint.
Slattery applied pressure by finding the heart of the par-three 16th and when Ward came up short in the water, he was two up with two to go two and only needed a half to clinch the title for Ballybunion.
He added to the drama by almost losing his tee shot in the deep fescue right of the par-five 17th.
But after his ball was found with only a minute of the search remaining, he hacked out (hitting his opponent’s caddie car) and eventually ended up 30 yards short of the green in four with Ward facing a short putt for par.
Electing the putter on the advice of his father Brendan, who was caddying, Slattery duly rapped home his putt home and was mobbed by his team mates.
“By the time tomorrow comes around it’ll be 60 or 70 yards!” he said of the long-range missile that sank Grange.
“I knew I at least had to get the putt close and make him putt.
“It could have hopped anywhere but about five or six feet out the boys behind me were roaring that it was in the hole. Thankfully, it went down.
"It’s fantastic, it’s a panel sport. Young James O’Callaghan would have been in the team up to last Thursday but went over on his leg in PE; he had played all the matches, won the Munster final and everything but was out for this week, unfortunately.
"Adrian (Walsh) stepped in and delivered twice on the 19th (in the semi-final) on Wednesday and today in the final; delivered in spades. I know I was down early but got a bit lucky, a couple of putts went in and Jack (Ward) had a couple of unlucky lip-outs. I suppose it is just the nature of things, when they are going your way, they’re going your way."
Ballybunion Manager, Brendan Daly, was thrilled with his side's victory.
"We won the Junior Cup in 2013 in Royal Tara and Frank Geary as a survivor from that team. It was looking dodgy at the start alright because Grange have some fantastic golfers. But I have faith in my players, they have dug deep before and they dug deep again today.
"Brian is always very dependable, a surviving member from the Jimmy Bruen team two years ago and one of the most improved players. And he knows this place very well."
Warrenpoint retained the AIG Barton Shield with a four-hole win over Galway, who have now lost three finals in a row, with both matches marked by decisive birdies on the 16th.
Joe Lyons and Luke O’Neill were just one down to Stephen Coulter and Paul Reavey playing the 16th when Ronan Mullarney holed a sensational pitch at the 15th for birdie alongside partner Liam Power to leave them just one down to Ryan Gribben and international Colm Campbell Jnr.
The match was hanging in the balance and it tipped Warrenpoint’s way on the treacherous, 180-yard par-three.
“I had just seen Ronan pitch in against Collie and Ryan, and the putt was about 20 feet and I thought to myself, this would be a nice one to see go down,” Reavey said of his putt.
Minutes later, Warrenpoint repeated the trick when Gribben hit a superb tee shot to eight feet and Campbell Jnr duly rapped in the putt to restore their two-up lead.
Coulter then closed out the match and overall victory for Warrenpoint by lagging dead for par at the 17th, leaving Galway to look to the AIG Senior Cup for solace.
"It's great [to be part of a special group]," Reavey said. "Even though we are getting towards our late 20s and early 30s now, we have a lot of experience of playing Barton Shield and Senior Cup. It stands us in great stead when it comes down to the crunch. They are a great bunch of lads and you know you can always depend on them. "
“I said it last year; there is no better feeling than winning as a club,” Campbell Jnr said. “It's a great feeling to pick up another All Ireland gold medal. When it comes to foursomes in Barton Shield, we just know how to win it and the lads played well."
Warrenpoint manager Colm Campbell Snr explained that his side did brilliantly to pick themselves up from the disappointment of losing to Royal Portrush in the Senior Cup, which was the big goal this season.
"The Senior Cup was a massive loss for us," he said of Reavey's 24th hole defeat in the decisive match in the semi-finals. "Unfortunately, it went down to tie holes. Paul has a knack of getting us through, but it wasn't to be.
"But he is one of our top players and for us to bounce back from the disappointment of the Senior Cup and go out the following weekend and win the Ulster side of the Barton Shield, just shows the tremendous commitment the boys have to the club.
"We would have been very disappointed had we lost today. But we are good losers as well as good winners. We'd have taken it on the chin but fair play to Galway. I am sure they are very disappointed. It is tough. But maybe they will go on and do well in the Senior Cup. It is hard to win both."
In the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield, Tommy Quigley will be going for his third All Ireland medal alongside his sons Shane and Stephen today when Thurles face Royal Curragh in the decider.
As Royal Curragh beat Moyola Park 3-2, the Tipperary men beat Portumna by the same scoreline with John Looby and Gerard Maguire decisively edging out Dan and Pádraig Hogan on the 19th when the Galway pair drove out of bounds.
"We were two down after two, we do that all the time," Tommy said. "Every match we play in we were either one or two down, even three down but we stayed in there and played our way back into it. Luckily enough we played some good shots at the right time and got back into it.
“It's great, a lovely family thing. It's not every place you'd find a father and two sons playing on the one team, it's brilliant. I don't know if there's many places where it's done but that's a great thing about golf, that you can play with your family.
“We're all hurlers. I've won county finals in Tipperary with Moycarkey-Borris and we were living beside the golf course and had to cross it to go to school. We hadn't the money to be into the golf but we used to hurl back the balls as we walked across. It was good old craic!
“Now we have another All Ireland to play and it's lovely. The one sport where we can be together.”
“We have about 15 lads here together, playing together for the last 15 years and there's fierce camaraderie, we just love being together.
“We've won two Pierce Purcells. I was on the team in 1997 in Dundalk and we won it again two years ago with my two boys and John Looby too, whose father (Jack) was on the team with me in 97.”
AIG Cups and Shields Finals, Carton House (O'Meara Course)
AIG Barton Shield - Thursday 21 September
Warrenpoint beat Galway by 4 holes
(Warrenpoint names first)
- Stephen Coulter & Paul Reavey beat Joe Lyons & Luke O’Neill by 2 holes;
- Colm Campbell & Ryan Gribben beat Ronan Mullarney & Liam Power by 2 holes
AIG Junior Cup Final
Ballybunion 3 Grange 2 (Ballybunion names first):
- Philip Byrne lost to Kevin O’Meara 6&5;
- Frank Geary beat Paul McNiff 3&2;
- Ronan Cross lost to Graham McDonnell 7&6;
- Adrian Walsh beat Niall McCormack 3&2;
- Brian Slattery beat Jack Ward 2&1
AIG Pierce Purcell Shield
Semi-Finals — Thursday 21 September
Royal Curragh 3 Moyola Park 2 (Royal Curragh names first)
- Michael Cleary & Brendan Mullins lost to Seamus Graffin & Timothy Steele at the 20th;
- Eddie Trant & Jimmy Murphy beat Malachy McKee & Stephen Heaney 4&3;
- Anthony Ryan & Thomas Powell beat Bernard O’Kane & Gerald Loughlin 4&3;
- Martin Whitty & Bill Geraghty lost to Conor McKenna & Tony Johnston 3&1;
- Brenny Murphy & Paul Dempsey beat Desmond Cleary & Martin McNabb 2&1
Thurles 3 Portumna 2 (Thurles names first)
- Tommy Quigley & Shane Quigley beat Dean Cox & Brian Mooney 6&5;
- Stephen Quigley & Martin Fahy beat Padric Cahalan & Alan Hayes by 1 hole;
- John Looby & Gerard Maguire beat Dan Hogan & Padraig Hogan at the 19th; Pat Coote & Sean Sherlock lost to Enda Quigley & Alan Page by 2 holes; Johnny Nevin & Adrian O’Keefe lost to Sean McEntee & David Hughes 4&3
- Pat Coote & Sean Sherlock lost to Enda Quigley & Alan Page by 2 holes;
- Johnny Nevin & Adrian O’Keefe lost to Sean McEntee & David Hughes 4&3
Friday - AIG Senior Cup Semi-Finals
8.0 am Royal Portrush v Galway (Royal Portrush names first)
- Mark McMurray v Luke O’Neill;
- Andrew Morris v Ronan Mullarney;
- Matthew McAlpin v Joe Lyons;
- Garth McGimpsey v Liam Nolan;
- Jamie Knipe v Liam Power
8.45 am Limerick v Carton House (Limerick names first)
- Owen O’Brien v Des Morgan;
- Sean Poucher v Jack Doherty;
- Ciaran Vaughan v Sean O’Connor;
- Michael Reddan v Gary McDermott;
- Justin Kehoe v Colin Cunningham
AIG Pierce Purcell Shield - Final
10.30 am Royal Curragh v Thurles (Royal Curragh names first)
- Martin Whitty & Bill Geraghty v Tommy Quigley & Shane Quigley;
- Eddie Trant & Jimmy Murphy v Pat Coote & Johnny Nevin;
- Michael Cleary & Brendan Mullins v John Looby & Gerard Maguire;
- Anthony Ryan & Thomas Powell v Adrian O’Keefe & John Dwan;
- Brenny Murphy & Paul Dempsey v Stephen Quigley & Martin Fahy
AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield - Semi-Finals
11.45 am Mountrath v Warrenpoint (Mountrath names first)
- James Coss & Michael Brennan v Rian Carvill & John Murray;
- Martin Carroll & Paul Darling Junior v Gerard Durkin & Shane Carr;
- Joseph Carroll & Colin Bergin v Hudson McGuffin & Barry Laverty;
- Pascal Dunphy & Matthew Motts v Stanley Weir & Eoin Durkin;
- Martin Gaughan & Aidan Manicle v Raymond Duffin & Eamon Rooney
12.30 pm Castlebar v Ballykisteen (Castlebar names first)
- Shane Rice & Tommy Lawless v Olly Hodges & PJ Carey;
- Shane Quigley & Johan Collins v David Cartlidge & Sean Calvert;
- Paddy Burke & Ray Prendergast v Liam Downey & Gavin Downey;
- Tom Moylett & Mark Corrigan v Alan Murphy & Denis O’Brien;
- Kieran Horkan & Colin Dawson v Mick Kennedy & James Nolan