Heartbreak for Junior Cup team in Leinster semi-final

The Junior Cup team’s efforts to win a second Leinster pennant in three years ended in heartbreak on Saturday evening in Callan when they were beaten 3-2 by Malahide.

In the morning quarter-final against Mullingar, a 2&1 win for Ciaran Traynor, a 4&3 win for Kyle Rafferty and a 5&4 win for Shane Hession got Dundalk over the line with Brian Renaghan all square after 14 and Clem Walshe two down after 14 when they were called in.

The semi-final was a real topsy turvey affair with the lead shifting several times over the duration of the afternoon before the match went to the wire. Ciaran Traynor lost 3& 2 in the top match and Kyle Rafferty also lost 3&2 but Clem Walshe had a comprehensive 5&4 win before Shane Hession won on the 19th to leave the tie delicately poised at 2-2 with one match out on the course.

There was little between Brian Og Renaghan and his opponent Ryan Gibson but a controversial ruling on the ninth hole saw the Dundalk player denied a win that would have put him two up and instead left all-square at the turn. The pair remained deadlock all the way to 20th hole when Gibson birdied to send Malahide through the final which they subsequently lost to Grange.

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.

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.