Junior Cup team reach Leinster Finals

Dundalk’s Junior Cup team are through to the Leinster Finals after coming through their area qualifier over the Bank Holiday weekend at Knightsbrook Golf Club where 15 clubs from North Leinster participated.

Dundalk’s panel consisted of Billy Cairns, Shane Hession, Conor McCaughey, Kyle Rafferty, Brian Renaghan, Ciaran Traynor and Clem Walshe and they showed tremendous battling qualities the two day event

The first day was the strokeplay qualifier which was played in blustery conditions and with four of the five cards to count Dundalk needed to be in the top four to qualify for Sunday’s matchplay play-off.

Dundalk returned a total of 318, which was three shots behind leading qualifiers, Co Louth, with Headford also posting 318 and Ashbourne taking the final play-off spot on 320.

Renaghan shot the lowest score of the day, a 77, with Hession 78, Traynor 82 and Walshe 81 completing the four counting cards for Dundalk.

The following day, pre-tournament favourites Co. Louth comfortably disposed of Ashbourne in the first semi-final winning their first three matches comfortably, with the other two being called in.

Playing Headfort in the other semi-final, Dundalk were soon involved in a marathon struggle. Renaghan and Traynor were beaten on the 16th and 18th respectively while Hession and teenager Kyle Rafferty were always in command of their respective matches, both winning on 17.

Headfort looked to be in control in the final match, but a fantastic comeback by Walshe over the closing holes saw him edge to victory by the narrowest of margins on the last green to send Dundalk into the final against their great rivals from Baltray.

Astute team placement by selector Peter Rogers proved to be a decisive factor as Dundalk came from behind to win the afternoon contest.

Billy Cairns and Ciaran Traynor were beaten in the first two matches with Traynor going down narrowly on the 18th. But, Shane Hession came out of the blocks like a whirlwind in the third match, firing three birdies in the first five holes, to leave his opponent on the back foot and he eventually closed out the match on the 16th.

Clem Walshe played his usual brand of steady reliable golf and was always in control in his match before finally winning on 15.

The deciding match came down to Kyle Rafferty, a nephew of Leinster Interpro Caolan, who was representing the club at senior level for the first time. Always behind in his match to a more seasoned opponent, and three down with six to play, Rafferty finally drew level on 17.

He then held his nerve on the difficult 18th hole to half and, as darkness beckoned, he closed out the match holing a five foot putt on the 19th to secure victory for Dundalk.

All roads now lead to Co Kilkenny this summer for Dundalk as the Junior Squad will contest the Leinster Finals in Callan Golf Club on July 29 and 30 while the Barton Shield team have already qualified for the Leinster Finals at Killkenny Golf  Club the previous weekend.