Men’s senior and ladies juniors march on as three teams bow out

Dundalk Golf Club have qualified for the Leinster Finals of the AIG Senior Cup, the most prestigious inter-club competition in Irish golf, and remain on course for an historic double having already qualified for the Leinster finals of the Barton Shield.

It was a tremendous end to a week that was bookended by two fabulous victories as the Ladies Junior Cup team also advanced to the Leinster quarter-finals when they defeated Laytown & Bettytown at the beginning of the week.

However, in between those two magnificent wins was a lot of heartache as Dundalk’s runs in the Jimmy Bruen Shield, All Ireland Fourball and Revive Active Fourball came to an end.

It is the first time in the club’s history that a team has reached the Leinster finals of the top two inter-club competitions in the same year and the senior team will head to Mount Wolseley in July and Mount Juliet in August with a lot of confidence after three impressive wins over the weekend in the regional qualifying round of the Senior Cup at Laytown & Bettystown.

Having received a bye in the First Round, Dundalk faced Killeen Castle on Saturday afternoon and won by 3.5 to 1.5 with Caolan Rafferty winning 6&5, Aaron Grant winning 3&1 and Conor Curran winning 3&2.

On Sunday morning they met Headfort and there were wins for Rafferty, Curran and Grant while Brendan Lawlor, for the second successive match, was called in while in a strong positive to win his match.

That set up a regional final with Co Louth and Eoin Murphy, who had flown in that morning from England, won two up after being dormie four. Fellow Irish Boys international Josh Mackin, who like Murphy had only finished his Leaving Certificate last Thursday, came from two down to win 2&1 thanks to birdies on three of the final four holes.

Rafferty was six under par in his 5&3 win while Grant was two up when his match was called in.

The win booked Dundalk a place in the Leinster final at Mount Juliet with their quarter-final match against The Island scheduled for August 28.

Earlier in the day, Dundalk’s Jimmy Bruen Shield team came agonisingly close to reaching the Leinster Finals in their regional qualifier at Roganstown.

They opened up with a 3.5 to 1.5 win over leading qualifiers Balbriggan with Pat Purton and Paul O’Callaghan winning 7&6, Billy Cairns & Zak Alderdice winning 4&3 and Damien English and Christy Ward winning on the 20th. Conal Murdock and Conor Murphy were looking good to win their match on the 19th when called in while Shane Hession and Fergal Sexton came up against Balbriggan’s strongest pairing and lost 5&4.

In the regional final on Sunday afternoon Dundalk faced Forest Little and a comfortable 6&5 win for for Ward and English and a 5&4 win for Murdock and Murphy left the tie level at 2-2 after Cairns & Alderdice and Ciaran Traynor and Cian Lynch McCrave had lost their matches.

It all came down to the match involving Purton and O’Callaghan which was all square after 16. However, Dundalk lost the 17th to a birdie and then saw Forest Little sink a 10ft putt for par on the 18th before O’Callaghan’s birdie putt to send the match down the 19th lipped out.

There was more heartbreak in the All-Ireland Fourball Leinster quarter-final against last year’s Leinster finalists, Malahide, who beat Frank Byrne’s charges 3-2 in a dramatic match that was eventually finished at around 10pm on Thursday evening.

In Malahide, Dundalk lost the opening match 4&3 as Colm Garvey and Michael Keating were hit by blitzkrieg from a home pairing that were two under gross for the 15 holes played as they rolled in three birdies, 11 pars and one bogey in a faultless round.

Behind them, Kevin Carthy and Ray Pepper were three down with four to play but won 15, 16 and 18 to draw level with Carthy producing a miraculous chip over a greenside bunker from the trees on the last to find the green and then sank a 15ft putt to send the match down the 19th.

On the first sudden death hole, it was Pepper who came to the fore as he hit a fabulous shot out of a fairway bunker to within six feet of the green and then chipped on to leave himself with two putts for the win and Dundalk’s first point on the board.

The remaining three matches were played in Dundalk where Adrian Kenny and Gerry McDermott maintained their unbeaten run with an excellent 3&1 win having taken control of the match midway through the opening nine when they won the fourth, fifth and sixth to open up a three hole lead.

Peter O’Brien and Dermot McKenna were involved in an extremely tight match which was all square with three to play but they lost 16 and 17 and were edged out 2&1 to leave the tie at 2-2 with one match out on the course.

Eamonn McEneaney and Joe Flanagan had been four down after 10 but they won the next three holes to reduce the deficit to one and, after losing the 14th, they bounced back with wins at the 15th, 16th and 17th to stand one up with one to play.

After Malahide had secured their par on the 18th, the home pair both had putts to send Dundalk into the Leinster semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history but both efforts burned the edge of the hole and sent the match down the 19th where Malahide secured the win with a five.

Earlier that day, the Ladies Revive Action team were beaten in their Third Round match by Ardee who won by 3.5 to 1.5.

At the beginning of last week the Ladies Junior Cup team reached the Leinster Finals with a 3-2 win over Laytown & Bettystown and they will now face Rathfarnham in Foxrock for a place in the semi-finals.