Junior Cup team chase All-Ireland title

Dundalk Junior Cup 1

Junior Cup team with sponsor Eoin Doohan of Doohan Financial Planning

This is the biggest week on the Irish inter-club golf scene with the AIG Ireland Cups and Shields All-Ireland Finals taking place at Carton House and Dundalk Golf Club will head to the Co Kildare venue on Wednesday in search a first ever win in the Junior Cup and only the second national title in the 110 year history of the club.

Under the guidance of team manager Clem Walshe and selector Terry Conlon, this year’s Junior Cup squad have exceeded all expectations and captured the Leinster title for the first time in 21 years last July when they beat Clontarf in a thrilling final at Portarlington.

They will face Connacht champions Westport in Wednesday’s All-Ireland semi-final with the winners advancing to meet either Greenisland or Douglas in Thursday’s final.

The road to Carton House began earnest last June for the Dundalk squad when they won their North East qualifying tournament at Balbriggan on one of the worst weekend’s weather wise of the summer.

After heading the strokeplay qualifying round with an overall score of 342, to lead home Laytown & Bettystown, Ardee and Headfort, Dundalk then beat Headfort 4-1 in the semi-finals before seeing off Ardee 3-2 to advance to the Leinster Finals in July at Portarlington.

They faced Hermitage in the quarter-finals and won by 3.5 to 1.5 with Ciaran Sheridan winning his match 3&2, Richard Newell taking his 4&2 and Josh Mackin edging his by one hole.

That earned the team a semi-final joust with Woodbrook and, after Eoin Murphy had won 3&2 and Richard Newell had won 4&2, the pressure was on anchor man Aaron King with the match tied at 2-2. King held a one hole lead standing on the 18th tee and he kept his nerve to win the final hole for a two up victory and earn Dundalk a 3-2 win.

In the final Dundalk faced Clontarf and, after a 3&1 win for Ciaran Sheridan and a 4&3 victory for Eoin Murphy was balanced by defeats for Josh Macken and Aaron King it all came down to the final match out on the course where Richard Newell was looking for his third win of the weekend,

All square after 18, Newell and his Dublin opponent headed down the 19th where Newell closed out the match after a superb approach shot to six feet. For Walshe, and his squad, it was the highlight of the year, so far.

“There have been a number of memorable moments to date,” said Walshe. “It was a very tough windy day when the regional stroke play qualifiers took place in Balbriggan Golf Club and we did well to knuckle down and top our section. The Leinster finals were all very tight and we had some great battles against some excellent teams but the stand out game has to be winning the Leinster pennant in the final against Clontarf at the 19th hole in Portarlington Golf Club.”

Since that victory in July the Dundalk squad have been busy preparing for the All-Ireland Final and according to Walshe they are ready for what lies ahead over the next few days.

“I’m a great believer in ‘You’ll only get out of it what you put in’. If that stands to be true then I’m confident we’ll do well. The key is to prepare as best we can, enjoy the occasion and be proud of having the opportunity to represent our club and province against the best teams from all over the country in the 2015 All Ireland Finals,” said Walshe

“We’ve had a fairly wide and varied range of sessions over the last few months ranging from official panel meetings to playing golf to practices on the range, pitching and putting areas as well as some light hearted social get-togethers giving the lads a well-earned opportunity to give the management a hard time!”

Walshe and Conlon have already selected Aaron King, Ricky Newell, Josh Macken, Eoin Murphy, Ciaran Sheridan to tee it up on Wednesday but Walshe says that no matter which of the ten players they selected they would have full confidence in their ability to get the job done.

“Apart from their golfing ability I believe they have great strength of character and a passionate desire to win. They’ve bonded really well and support each other whether playing, caddying or subbing in matches. We’ve a big mix of characters from teenagers who are still at school or college to school teachers, accountants and builders but all with one thing in common, the belief and desire to make our members proud and represent Dundalk Golf Club to the very best of their ability every time they tee it up.”

It’s 11 years since Dundalk won its first and to date only GUI All-Ireland pennant when the Jimmy Bruen Shield team took the national title on a not to be forgotten day at Shannon Golf Club. It’s also 11 years since a Leinster club won the All-Ireland Junior Cup so there

Opportunities to win national titles don’t come along too often and fingers are crossed out in Blackrock that the Junior Cup team can follow suit this week.