Ireland to face England in five-in-a-row bid
 Tiarnan McLarnon. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Tiarnan McLarnon. Picture by Pat Cashman

Ireland will face England for the Raymond Trophy and a fifth Home Internationals crown in a row following their 9.5-5.5 win over Wales at Conwy.

England beat Scotland 8-7 to set up a final day showdown for the title against an Irish team that won the foursomes 3.5-1.5 before claiming six wins from the ten singles matches.

Ireland named an unchanged team from Wednesday’s foursomes matches with Robin Dawson and Peter O’Keeffe beating Wales’ Jake Hapgood and Tom Williams one up.

The Munster pair were one up after four holes before birdies on the 11th and 14th turned the game in favour of the Welsh pair. However, the Irish pair took two of the last four holes and won the match 1 up.

Conor Purcell and Mark Power quickly took control of the second game taking a 3 up lead into the back nine against the Welsh pair Matt Roberts and Paddy Mullins, eventually winning the game 2&1.

Game three was heading the Welsh way in the early stages as Ben Chamberlain and Lewys Sanges established an early 3 up lead against the Caolan Rafferty and Alex Gleeson. The Irish duo mounted a late charge but lost 1up.

Kieron Harman and Jacob Davies were out of the blocks quickly in game four winning the first two holes, but the tide quickly turned as Robbie Cannon and James Sugrue playing steady par golf soon overturned the early deficit and the match was halved.

In game five, Ronan Mullarney and Tiarnan McLarnon against Trew and Archie Davies was turning out to be the best of the foursomes matches with both pairs under par and all square after 9 holes. The Irish pair then produced a sensational finish with birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th securing a 4&2 win in an estimated score of five-under par.

Ireland started the afternoon singles needing 4.5 points to clinch their second victory of the Home Internationals series but it was Wales that made the first move with Hapgood taking an early lead over Dawson in the top game.

However Ireland’s Purcell, Power and Rafferty all quickly moved ahead in games two to four to leave Ireland looking comfortable in the early stages of the singles.

Hapgood and Dawson traded eagles and birdies to play holes nine to twelve in four under par leaving Hapgood 2 up with six to play. Another eagle for Hapgood on the 14th and a two on the 15th took him to a 4&3 victory.

Four birdies in five holes around the turn helped Purcell to a comfortable 4&3 win over Tom Williams so making it four wins out of four for Purcell.

Rafferty quickly followed suit in his match with Chamberlain recording another 4&3 win. Birdies on the 14th and 16th helped Power complete a 3&1 victory over Roberts so giving Ireland a 6.5-2.5 lead in the overall match.

Jacob Davies helped Wales’ cause with a 5&4 win over Gleeson which was followed by a 1up win for Oliver Brown over Ireland’s Jonathan Yates.

But the respite was only temporary as O’Keeffe recorded a 4&3 win over Paddy Mullins to take Ireland to the cusp of victory. This was duly confirmed a little later when Sugrue completed a hard-earned win over Archie Davies to take Ireland over the line.

In the remaining games Wales’ Lewys Sanges came back from a two hole deficit to edge out Ronan Mullarney and record a 1up win.

Ireland’s Tiarnan McLarnon finished things off and extended his perfect record with a 2&1 win over Gaelen Trew to secure an overall match result of 9.5 to 5.5 in Ireland’s favour.

In the second match of the day England quickly took control of the opening games against Scotland with both Wilson and Hague, and Plumb and Sloman three up before the turn. Both games ended in comfortable 5&3 and 3&2 wins respectively for the English pairs.

The next three games were a lot closer and in games three, Cantley and Fyfe (Scotland) against Waite and Long (England), and four, Johnston and Wilson (Scotland) against Jones and Burnage (England) were all square after nine holes. Birdies on ten & fourteen helped the English pair Waite and Long to a two hole lead after fourteen holes eventually closing out the game 2&1. Jones and Burnage and Johnston and Wilson traded birdies on the back nine but the English pair managed to close out the game on the eighteenth in another close finish

The final game of the morning foursome was also proving to be a topsey turvey affair. Easton and Walker (Scotland) shot into a 4up lead through seven holes, helped by a birdie birdie start before Gill and Poppleton (England) found their stride and came charging back with three birdies in a row through the turn to get the game back to A/S. Easton and Walker rallied to eventually prevail 2&1 helped by a fine eagle on the par five fourteenth.

Scotland had it all to do to overturn a 4-1 morning deficit against England. The opening skirmishes were pretty even but with England just having the upper hand. By the turn England were well up in games one, three and four though Wilson, Waite and Hague with Euan Walker keeping Scottish hopes alive, 3up after 9 in his match against Tom Sloman.

Mitch Waite was the first to record a point, winning his match against Euan McIntosh 5&3 having been ahead since the 3rd hole of the game. Seven birdies in sixteen holes helped secure David Hague’s 4&3 win over Jim Johnston and maintained his personal 100% record in the championship.

Tom Plumb won four in a row from the twelth to record a 4&3 win against Stuart Easton to make the overall match score 7-1 in England’s favour.

Euan Walker put the first Scottish point on the board in the singles as he completed a 3&1 win over previously undefeated Tom Sloman. Four birdies in the last ten holes helped Ryan Lumsden turn around the top match against Andrew Wilson and record a win on the eighteenth. With the overall match score sat at 7-3 Scotland still harboured hopes of a late comeback but those thoughts were dashed as England’s Ben Jones recorded a 5&4 win over Matt Clark in the final game.

Wins for Scottish players Roger, Wright and James Wilson in the remaining games gave Scotland the satisfaction of winning the afternoon singles but the overall match score ended up 8-7 in England’s favour.

As we look forward to day three Ireland and England sit on top of the table with two wins apiece and the two in-form teams will battle it out to see who will take the title of 2018 Home International champions.

Men’s Home Internationals, Conwy, Wales

Detailed scores

  1. Ireland 2 2 0 0 21 - 9 2

  2. England 2 2 0 0 19.5 - 10.5 2

  3. Scotland 2 0 0 2 10.5 - 19.5 0

  4. Wales 2 0 0 2 9 - 21 0