England "goliath" claims Triple Crown; Ireland third
England celebrate with the Raymond Trophy. Picture:  Pat Cashman

England celebrate with the Raymond Trophy. Picture: Pat Cashman

England retained the Home Internationals and claimed the Triple Crown thanks to their 9-6 win over Scotland at Lahinch.

But Ireland can hold their collective heads high after beating Wales for third place at Lahinch with James Sugrue out injured for five sessions and a new-look side featuring four new caps in Tom McKibbin, Keith Egan, Matthew McClean and Robert Brazill.

They were left to rue a two-point defeat to Scotland on the opening day and while they were outclassed 10-5 by England on day two, National Coach Neil Manchip and team captain John Carroll were looking at many positives.

"We had some new players this week in their first Home Internationals, and they acquitted themselves very well," Manchip said after Ireland beat Wales 12-3 on a glorious, sun-kissed day.

"Three players were coming back from Walker Cup after a busy week last week. James [Sugrue][, being injured was a real downer for him and for us as well, so he is going to take a while to get back playing.

"It was a real disappointment for us not to have him playing this week. I thought Conor [Purcell] and Caolan [Rafferty] did really well to play so well after a big week last week in Hoylake.

"Overall it was disappointing to lose our first match. Scotland played very well against us. England has a fantastic team this year and gave us a good beating yesterday, and we finished off well today.

"Overall, it was a disappointing week, but you can't fault the way our players went about their business."

Ireland won their first foursomes session of the week to put themselves in a strong position with wins for Purcell and Keith Egan, Ronan Mullarney and Sean Flanagan, Robert Brazill and Matthew McClean and Colm Campbell and Tom McKibbin putting them 4-1 up at lunch.

Quick singles wins for Purcell, Rafferty, Ronan Mullarney and Robert Brazill put the result beyond doubt before Matthew McClean picked up his first win and 16-year old McKibbin triumphed on the 18th to earn his first singles point for Ireland at senior level.

"It was very enjoyable and the golf course was class," McKibbin said. "I was exhausted at the end, and so it was nice to win because I have played that 18th too many times and not had a win.

"I made a few tired, tired swings coming in. I played two practise rounds, four 18s and 16 this morning and 18 this afternoon. So there were some tired swings there but overall, it was a great week."

Egan lost 2&1 to Jacob Davies, who had a hole in one at the 16th on Thursday. But Ireland also had an ace up their sleeve with Campbell holing a nine-iron from 155 yards at the eighth for the 15th hole-in-one of his career in a two-hole win over Gaelen Trew.

While Sean Flanagan fell 2&1 at the end of an otherwise excellent week for the Co Sligo man, Tiarnan McLarnon was a 4&3 winner over Matt Roberts and he believes Ireland has the makings of another good team after the loss of some leading players to the professional ranks over the past two years.

"We won four in a row and came close for five in a row last year," McLarnon said. "It's not complacency but perhaps we didn't understand how good we really were and how good a team we had."

Irish captain Carroll added: "The first-day defeat to Scotland was a bit of a kick in the backside, especially our performance in the singles. We are also badly beaten in the foursomes yesterday by England but did well in the singles.

"Obviously losing James Sugrue after the first day's foursomes was a big blow. The four new caps did very well, and Tom McKibbin is a great talent. I am sure they will all benefit from it."

England were thrilled to win the Triple Crown with 17-year old Ben Schmidt — the only member of the 11-man side who is not turning professional next week — claiming the winning point with a two-hole win over Eric McIntosh.

After sharing the foursomes 2.5-2.5, England won five of the ten singles and lost only two with Matty Lamb the event's top scorer with five and half out of six following his one-hole win over Darren Howie.

England captain Gareth Jenkins was delighted with his side's performance, though saddened to lose so many players to the professional game.

"It means everything to the team," he said. "We came here with a great opportunity. Every match we played was very difficult. The conditions were extreme in some cases and beautiful in others.

"Every match was really tight at some point. And the guys dug deep. They're great at playing for themselves but even better at playing for each other."

He added: "The strength we had in depth showed this week. The big thing, yesterday, when the weather was so brutal our attitude was immense."

England will be firm favourites to complete a hat-trick of wins at Royal Dornoch next year and Scotland are aware of the challenge they face.

"The English team is outstanding," said playing-captain Matt Clark, who finished the week with four and a half points out of six. "They are a Goliath.

"Their six-man team is strong, their 10-man team is ridiculously strong. They've got guys ranked 90th in the world not playing here. They are a top, top team and we gave them a run for their money.

"They changed their singles order for the first time this week. That tells me that they had to think about it. We had them on the ropes a little bit in the foursomes. Unfortunately, that last game in the foursomes didn't quite go our way and we gave them a bit of momentum I would imagine going into the singles.

"We're an inexperienced team that will grow in confidence when they look back on this week in the next couple of days. They can be exceptionally proud of themselves.

"As a captain, you cannot ask for more than them giving everything they have. If you get beat, you get beat and you hold your head up high.

"This is progress. This is the first time we've had a shot at the Homes for six or seven years. Progress this week was being more competitive with the top two.

"We've given a very strong English team, certainly the best English team I've seen in my time playing, a real run for their money."

England's captain Jenkins summed it all up, adding: "The team gelled over the last 18 months. A lot of guys have played together a lot.

"Unfortunately we're going to lose a lot of the players to the pro ranks. They've finished off their amateur careers in style this week. They've played some outstanding golf on a beautiful golf course."

Home Internationals, Lahinch

D1FD1SD2FD2SD3FD3STotal
Matty Lamb (Eng)0111115
Tom Plumb (Eng)111010.54.5
Matt Clark (Sco)0110.5114.5
Ben Schmidt (Eng)0.5111014.5
Colm Campbell (Ire)0.5100.5114
Conor Purcell (Ire)1001114
Caolan Rafferty (Ire)1011014
Ben Jones  (Eng)1101014
Tom Sloman (Eng)1-10114
Bailey Gill (Eng)0110.50.514
Darren Howie (Sco)-0.511103.5
Eric McIntosh (Sco)00.511103.5
Stuart Easton (Sco)0.50.5110.503.5
Tiarnรกn McLarnon (Ire)10.510013.5
James Wilson (Sco)110100.53.5
Lewis Irvine (Sco)0.51100.50.53.5
Jake Burnage (Eng)1101003
Ben Hutchinson (Eng)0110103
Ryan Lumsden (Sco)0110103
Rob Brazill (Ire)0100113
Ronan Mullarney (Ire)00.500.5113
Jacob Davies (Wal)0010113
Connor Jones (Wal)1001013
Connor McKinney (Sco)1100013
Joshua McMahon (Eng)011-0.50.53
Sean Flanagan (Ire)00.501102.5
Harry Hall (Eng)-110.502.5
Kieran Cantley (Sco)10.501002.5
Matthew McClean (Ire)-0.500112.5
Tom McKibbin (Ire)0.5000112.5
Callum Farr (Eng)0.50.5-1-0.52.5
Euan McIntosh (Sco)100100.52.5
Keith Egan  (Ire)1000102
Jake Hapgood (Wal)0010102
Gaelen Trew (Wal)0.50.510002
Tom Froom  (Wal)0.5010001.5
Matt Roberts (Wal)1000.5001.5
George Bryant (Wal)1-00001
Ben Chamberlain (Wal)0001001
Kieron Harman (Wal)100-001
Lewys Sanges (Wal)0001001
James Sugrue (Ire)0-----0
George Burns (Sco)0-----0
Rhys Evans (Wal)-0-0-00

Ireland 12 Wales 3

Foursomes:

  1. C Purcell & K Egan bt B Chamberlain & L Sanges 1 hole;

  2. C Rafferty & T McLarnon lost to J Hapgood & J Davies 3&2;

  3. R Mullarney & S Flanagan bt C Jones & G Bryant 1 hole;

  4. R Brazill & M McClean bt M Roberts & K Harman 1 hole;

  5. C Campbell & T McKibbin bt G Trew & T Froom 3&2

Singles:

  1. Purcell bt Chamberlain;

  2. Rafferty bt Evans 3&1;

  3. Mullarney bt Hapgood 2&1;

  4. Egan lost to Davies 2&1;

  5. Brazill bt Harman 7&6;

  6. McClean bt Sanges 4&3;

  7. McKibbin bt Bryant 1 hole;

  8. Flanagan lost to Jones 2&1;

  9. McLarnon bt Roberts 4&3;

  10. Campbell bt Trew 2 holes

England 9 Scotland 6

Foursomes:

  1. T Sloman & T Plumb bt Euan McIntosh & K Cantley 2&1;

  2. B Jones & J Burnage lost to M Clark & R Lumsden 1 hole;

  3. H Hall & B Schmidt lost to Eric McIntosh & D Howie 5&4;

  4. M Lamb & B Hutchinson bt J Wilson & C McKinney 4&3;

  5. B Gill & J McMahon halved with L Irvine & S Easton

Singles:

  1. Sloman bt Lumsden 3&2;

  2. Jones bt Cantley 2 holes;

  3. Plumb halved with Wilson;

  4. Burnage lost to McKinney 2&1;

  5. Farr halved with Irvine;

  6. Lamb bt Howie 1 hole;

  7. Hutchinson lost to Clark 2&1;

  8. Schmidt bt Eric McIntosh 2 holes;

  9. McMahon halved with Euan McIntosh;

  10. Gill bt Easton 3&2

Final standings:

  1. England 3 points

  2. Scotland 2 points

  3. Ireland 1 point

  4. Wales 0.