Senior Cup runs ended at semi-final stage

Eoin Murphy and caddy Peter Rogers won both their matches in Mount Juliet

DUNDALK Golf Club’s bid for an historic Leinster senior double came up short at the weekend when they were beaten by Dun Laoghaire in the provincial semi-finals of the AIG Senior Cup.

Having won the first senior pennant in the 113 year history of the club just five weeks previously, when they clinched the Barton Shield in Mount Wolseley, Dundalk’s senior panel headed to Mount Juliet hoping to add the Senior Cup pennant but it was not to be despite a battling performance.

Dundalk cleared the first hurdle on Saturday morning with a 3.5 to 1.5 win over The Island in the quarter-finals but went down 3.5 to 1.5 to pre-tournament favourites Dun Laoghaire in the semi-final on Saturday afternoon.

“It was very tight,” said joint team manager John Conlon after the defeat against Dun Laoghaire. “There was never more than a hole or two in the difference in four of the matches throughout the afternoon but unfortunately we were the ones who were behind and chasing and in the end we just ran out of holes.”

Conlon, who along with Alan McCabe has overseen the transformation of the team into one of the strongest senior outfits in Leinster, added that despite the disappointment they would take a lot of positives from the weekend in Mount Juliet.

“it was a fabulous experience and will stand us in good stead for the All-Ireland Finals of the Barton Shield in Thurles in October. Both matches asked a lot of questions of us so we will analyse what happened and take the learnings on board..

While Dun Laoghaire coasted to an easy 4-1 win over Tullamore in their morning quarter-final, Dundalk found themselves in a battle with The Island where they showed great character to resist a late fight back from the Dubliners.

South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty put the first point on the board with a 3&1 win but Josh Mackin lost 3&2 as The Island drew level. A drive and a six iron to the par five 17th set up Eoin Murphy for a 2&1 win and with Conor Curran dormie two playing 17, and Aaron Grant one up playing 16, the advantage was with Dundalk.

But Curran then lost 17 to a birdie and Grant lost 16 as The Island fought back to keep the match alive.

Dundalk, however, were not be denied. Curran split the fairway on 18 and clinched the winning point when his opponent lost the hole after getting into all sorts of trouble in a lateral water hazard on the left of the final green.

With Grant’s match all square when it was called in, it meant Dundalk emerged winners by 3.5 to 1.5 and joined Dun Laoghaire, Portmarnock and Enniscorthy in the last four.

Josh Mackin was sent out first and the 17-year-old gave Dundalk the best possible start by winning the first three holes against Alan Fahy but behind him all his colleagues found themselves behind after three holes.

Mackin then lost the next four holes to par and found himself one down after seven and that became two when his opponent chipped in for birdie on nine. A great birdie on 10 saw Mackin pull one back but he then lost four of the next five holes as he fell to a 5&3 defeat.

Eoin Murphy found himself one down after finding the water on the par three third and he was trailing by two holes after 10 but he won the next three holes to go one up.

He responded impressively to losing the 14th by birdieing the 15th and then won 16th before halving the 17th in par for an excellent 2&1 win, his second victory of the day.

Aaron Grant was two down after seven but won eight and nine to get back to all square before losing 10 and 11 to again trail by two. Once again he bounced back, winning 12 and 13, to leave it all to play for with five to go.

But he lost the next three holes to lose 3&2 and leave Dun Laoghaire 2-1 ahead and needing just one more point from the two matches still playing.

Caolan Rafferty had been playing catch-up after losing the opening two holes but try as he might he was unable to peg his opponent back to all square. His day was summed up on the 17th when he found himself behind a fairway tree from where he could only play out left-handed and was unlucky to find himself behind another tree.

He eventually found the green in four but missed his long par putt and his opponent took the two putts he had to take the match by 2&1 and secure Dun Laoghaire’s place in the final.

Conor Curran was one down from the second to the ninth but won 10 to get back to all square and moved in front when he chipped in for a birdie to take the 15th. However, Rafferty’s loss meant Curran was called in and his match declared a half.

It was a disappointing defeat for Dundalk but they can still finish the season with a green pennant as they have already qualified for All Ireland Finals in Thurles in the Barton Shield where they will face Munster champions Kinsale in the semi-finals.

“Our focus will now turn to Thurles where we will be looking to win our first ever national senior title,” said Conlon. “Once again we had tremendous support in Mount Juliet, which the players greatly appreciated, and hopefully we will have a big crowd in Thurles in October.”

 

AIG Senior Cup Leinster Finals

Saturday, August 25

Quarter-Finals

Dundalk 3.5 The Island 1.5

Dun Laoghaire 4 Tullamore 1

Portmarnock 3.5 Old Conna 1.5

Enniscorthy 3 Carton House 2

 

Semi Finals

Dun Laoghaire 3.5 Dundalk 1.5

Portmarnock 4 Enniscorthy 1

 

Final

Dun Laoghaire 1.5 Portmarnock 3.5