Sugrue's absence sorely felt as Ireland's Home Internationals bid collapses

Sugrue's absence sorely felt as Ireland's Home Internationals bid collapses
Ronan Mullarney (Ireland) driving at the second tee watched by Harry Hall (England) during day two of the 2019 Home International Matches at Lahinch Golf Club. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Ronan Mullarney (Ireland) driving at the second tee watched by Harry Hall (England) during day two of the 2019 Home International Matches at Lahinch Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

The absence of Mallow’s James Sugrue with a back injury proved a major handicap for Ireland as their slim hopes of victory in the Home Internationals was dashed by England on a day of sunshine and showers at Lahinch.

The Amateur champion, who was unable to tee it up at all yesterday, will play no further part in the matches today either as he prepares to take three weeks rest.

Ireland missed his talents in west Clare and after falling 10-5 to defending champions England, who proved to have too much strength in depth for an Irish team with four newcomers and now go on to face Scotland for the title today.

John Carroll’s side will be playing for pride against Wales in the final rubber and while there have been many strong performances, that defeat to Scotland holed them below the waterline and England finish the job.

“I don’t know what’s gone wrong,” said Galway’s Ronan Mullarney after his brave fightback for a half in the singles against Harry Hall served only to smarten up the scoreline.

“I think missing Sugrue is a big, big loss. He’s one of the best amateurs in the world, never mind Ireland.”

With James Sugrue out for the entire day with a back injury, Ireland needed to get off to a good start to trouble England but instead fell 4-1 in the wind and rain-lashed foursomes.

Walker Cup players Tom Sloman and Tom Plumb beat Conor Purcell and Keith Egan 4&3 and while Caolan Rafferty and Tiarnan McLarnon edged out Jake Burnage and Ben Jones 2&1, the remaining three matches went England's way.

Mullarney and Sean Flanagan could not maintain their grip on the match against Hall and Ben Schmidt and fell 2&1, then Robert Brazill and Matthew McClean lost 3&2 to Matty Lamb and Ben Hutchinson.

McKibbin and Colm Campbell were all square against Bailey Hill and Joshua McMahon with three to play but lost the 16th to a par three and the last to a birdie set up by McMahon's 270-yard bullet to the back edge.

The sun came out for the singles but while Ireland fought with early wins for Purcell over Sloman by 3&2, Rafferty over Plumb by 2&1 and Flanagan (who had two eagles in an excellent 2&1 win over Ben Hutchinson by 5&4, there was little sparkle elsewhere.

But while Mullarney birdied the last two holes and salvaged a brilliant half with Hall after being three down with four to play, the middle order did not deliver.

Defeats for Keith Egan to Callum Farr (2&1), Robert Brazill to Jake Burnage (3&2), Matthew McClean (5&4) to Ben Jones and Tiarnan McLarnon (2&1) to Ben Schmidt, left 16-year old Tom McKibbin needing a win against Matty Lamb to keep hopes alive of a 7.5-7.5 draw.

The Holywood star was two down after nine holes but battled back with wins at the 12th, 14th and 15th to lead before Lamb rallied spectacularly.

The 21-year old debutant hit a nine iron close to win the 187-yard 16th, then birdied the last with a stroke of genius.

McKibbin mishit his approach into a bunker short left and while Lamb found his ball well above his feet in the rough, he muscled a 230-yard five-iron to the heart of the green to set up the win that got England over the line.

“I just thought, as long as I make decent contact, I am going to get a bit of a flyer and it will take the sidespin off and go pretty straight. I hit a five-iron from 230 and it just ran up nicely,” Lamb said.

While McKibbin has won just a half a point from four — in foursomes with Campbell against Scotland on Wednesday — he has still impressed many.

“He is a very good player and he has a very bright future ahead of him, I'm sure,” Lamb said. “I didn't realise how young he was.”

Colm Campbell halved the anchor singles with Bailey Gill, leaving Ireland to lick their wounds for today’s clash with Wales, who fell 9.5-5.5 to Scotland.

As for Sugrue, he’s pulled out of this weekend’s Dundalk Scratch Cup and with rest and physiotherapy planned for the next three weeks, he hopes to be fit for the Carey Cup match against the MGA in New Jersey from October 22-23.

“It’s sore to touch, which I have never had before,” he said. “I get a spasm on my downswing and I either jump out of it and thin it, or collapse and duff it. Not a great combination.

“If it wasn’t the Home Internationals this week, I wouldn’t have played at all yesterday.”

Home Internationals, Lahinch GC

Ireland 5 England 10

Foursomes

  1. C Purcell & K Egan lost to T Sloman & T Plumb;

  2. C Rafferty & T McLarnon bt B Jones & J Burnage 2&1;

  3. R Mullarney & S Flanagan lost to H Hall & B Schmidt 2&1;

  4. R Brazill & M McClean lost to M Lamb & B Hutchinson 3&2;

  5. C Campbell & T McKibbin lost to B Gill & J McMahon.

Singles:

  1. Purcell bt Sloman 3&2;

  2. Rafferty bt Plumb 2&1;

  3. Mullarney halved with Hall;

  4. Egan lost to Farr 2&1;

  5. Brazill lost to Burnage 3&2;

  6. McClean lost to Jones 5&4;

  7. McKibbin lost to Lamb 1 h.;

  8. Flanagan bt Hutchinson 5&4;

  9. McLarnon lost to Schmidt 2&1;

  10. Campbell halved with Gill

  11. Scotland 9.5 Wales 5.5

Foursomes:

  1. R Lumsden M Clark bt B Chamberlain & L Sanges 4&3;

  2. J Wilson & C McKinney lost to J Hapgood & J Davies;

  3. L Irvine & S Easton bt C Jones & G Bryant;

  4. D Howie & Eric McIntosh bt M Roberts & K Harman;

  5. Euan McIntosh & K Cantley lost to G Trew & T Froom.

Singles:

  1. Lumsden lost to Chamberlain 5&4;

  2. Cantley bt Hapgood 1 h.;

  3. Euan McIntosh bt Davies 2&1;

  4. Wilson bt Evans 2&1;

  5. McKinney lost to Sanges 4&3;

  6. Howie bt Bryant 3&1;

  7. Irvine lost to Jones 1 h.;

  8. Clark halved with Roberts;

  9. Eric McIntosh bt Froom 3&2;

  10. Easton bt Trew 1 h.

Today

(0800) Ireland v Wales,

Foursomes:

  1. Purcell & Egan v Chamberlain & Sanges;

  2. Rafferty & McLarnon v Hapgood & Davies;

  3. Mullarney & Flanagan v Jones & Bryant;

  4. Brazill & McClean v Roberts & Harman;

  5. Campbell & McKibbin v Trew & Froom.

(0845) England v Scotland,

Foursomes:

  1. Sloman & Plumb v Euan McIntosh & Cantley;

  2. Jones & Burnage v Clark & Lumsden;

  3. Hall & Schmidt v Eric McIntosh & Howie;

  4. Lamb & Hutchinson v Wilson & McKinney;

  5. Gill & McMahon v Irvine & Easton.