Disappointing finish for Murphy at Irish Amateur

Eoin Murphy had a disappointing end to the Irish Amateur Open Championship at Rosses Point after putting himself in the running for a top ten finish in his first appearance in the event.

Rounds of 71, 68 and 72 saw him climb steadily through the field and start the final round in joint tenth place and just four shots off second place on two under.

But after bouncing back from a bogey five at the second with a birdie four at the third, the wheels started to come off for the 18 year old as he bogeyed the fourth and sixth to turn two over the day and level par for the tournament.

Down the back nine he dropped seven shots as he doubled bogeyed three holes and bogeyed another to finish tied 37th. However, Murphy will take a lot of positives from the week as he returns to inter-club action this weekend when the club’s senior panel begin their defence of the Leinster Barton Shield pennant they won for the first time in the club’s history last year.

Dundalk are among 13 clubs who will tee it up at Killeen Castle on Saturday in the regional qualifier with the top four qualifiers from the strokeplay round going forward to the matchplay semi-finals at 8.30am on Sunday morning. Only the winner of Sunday afternoon’s final will advance to the Leinster Finals on July 27 in Royal Tara.

Our Barton Cup team face Royal Tara in the third round of this year’s competition while our Irish Senior Mixed Foursomes team had a great 4-1 win over Greenore on Sunday to continue their run.

Caolan Rafferty, who missed the Irish Amateur Open because he is currently doing exams, has risen to an all-time high of 33rd on the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Mackin is Club Champion

 Josh Mackin’s rich vein of form continued on Saturday when he won the Club Championship and in the process moved his handicap to plus one for the first time in his career.

The 17-year-old, who recently won the Ulster Boys Championship, shot rounds of 70 and 71 to take the title by two shots from the defending champion, Araon Grant with Irish international and current holder of West of Ireland and South of Ireland Championships, Caolan Rafferty, in third place a shot further back.

Mackin started slowly and was three over after four holes and although he got one back with a birdie at the sixth he gave it back at the ninth as he turned in three over par 39. A birdie on the par five 10th got him back to two over before he produced a remarkable run of six consecutive threes to cover the final six holes in four under as he came home in five under par for 31.

That left him leading after the first round by three shots from Grant and Eoin Murphy who both shot 73 with Brendan Lawlor a shot further back. Caolan Rafferty found himself five off the lead after a three over par 75.

Rafferty, however, responded in the second round with a three under par 69, the only sub-70 round of the tournament while Grant shot a two under par 70 and Murphy and Lawlor botrh carded 71s as the chasing pack tried to put pressure on the teenage leader.

Mackin, however, held his nerve in the second round although he once again struggled on the front nine. Despite starting with four successive pars and birdieing the sixth, he dropped shots at the fifth, seventh and ninth to turn in 39. However, birdies at two par fives, the 10th and 12th, and an eagle two on short par four 14th got him under par for this round and although he birdied the 15th, he handed that back when he bogeyed 17.

He came home in 32 for a second round total of 71 and finished on three under with a total score of 141. That was enough to get his handicap below scratch as he becomes the fourth Dundalk player currently playing off a plus handicap.

Six members of the Senior Panel took part in Sunday’s Warrenpoint Scratch Cup where Caolan Rafferty finished second after round 70 and 69. Rafferty has been named in the GUI Squad for the St Andrews Links Trophy in Scotland from June 7 to 9.

Saturday, May 11 – Club Championship: 141 – Josh Mackin (70, 71). 143 – Aaron Grant (73, 70). 144 – Caolan Rafferty (75, 69), Eoin Murphy (73, 71). 145 – Brendan Lawlor (74, 71). 149 – Neal MacKell (75, 74), Peter Rogers (75, 74).

 

Murphy wins Hilary Society Gold Medal

Eoin Murphy has got his 2019 season off to a great start by winning the Hilary Society’s Gold Medal for the player who shoots the lowest aggregate nett scores from three outings. His four under par score beat long-time leader Graham Lynch (Co. Louth) by a single shot thanks to an eagle, par, birdie finish in the final event at Royal Dublin.

This was Eoin’s first year as a member of the Hilary Society and he has emulated the feat of clubmate Clem Walshe who also won the gold medal in his first year as a member back in 2001.

Walshe also won the Gold Medal in 2016 and, playing off four, he was also the overall winner in Royal Dublin with a nett 72 where Murphy (+1) captured his third gross prize of the season with a 74. The Dundalk pair also teamed up with Sean Murphy from Greenore win the team prize with a score of 65.

Top trio head for the West at Rosses Point

Caolan Rafferty, Aaron Grant and Eoin Murphy will tee it up in this week’s West of Ireland Championship at Rosses Point which starts on Thursday and will be a four round strokeplay event with the cut falling after 54 holes.

Josh Mackin missed out on one of the 12 qualifying places last Sunday by one shot iafter shooting a four-over par 71 while Neal Mackell also missed out after a 79.

Rafferty, Grant and Murphy warmed up for the West at the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup last week where defending champion Rafferty finished fifth after two one over par rounds of 72 and Grant and Murphy also finished in the top 15.

 

 

Carroll takes Winter Series Singles Stableford

The Winter Series sponsored by Tiernans Centra Blackrock continued on Sunday with a singles stableford over 14 holes and it was won by nine handicapper Gerard Carroll who shot an excellent 34pts.

That gave him a one point winning margin as Michael Browne (22) finished with 33pts while Adrian Kenny (19) was a point further back on 33pts.

Three players finished on 31pts with Clem Walshe (4) taking fourth place on countback from Anthony McGuinness (19) who edged out Fergal McKenna (17) while the seventh and final prize went to David Brennan (14) who shot 30pts after covering the final nine holes in 20pts.

Walshe, who was the 2018 Golfer of the Year, has emerged from his winter hibernation in flying form and last week he was just edged out on countback in the second outing of the 2019 Hilary series at Seapoint Golf Club. On a cold and blustery day, on a course playing to its full length, Walshe shot a 74 and was pipped for victory by Royal Dublin’s Kevin Knightly (3) who eagled the par five 18th to pip the Dundalk player on countback.

This is a big year for Eoin Murphy as he moves into senior elite ranks and the plus one handicapper will take a lot of heart from his 73 at the Hilary outing which was enough to claim the gross prize.

Caolan Rafferty’s preparations for the upcoming season continues in South Africa over the next fortnight when he takes part in South African Amateur Championship at King David Mowbray Golf Club and the South African Amateur Strokeplay at De Zalze Golf Club. Rafferty is one of nine players on a GUI panel taking part in both events.

Sunday, February 17 – Winter Series 14 Hole Singles Stableford sponsored by Tiernans Centra Blackrock –
Gerard Carroll (9) 34pts, Michael Browne (22) 33pts, Adrian Kenny (19) 32pts, Clem Walshe (4) 31/20pts, Anthony McGuinness (19) 31/19pts, Fergal McKenna (17) 31pts, David Brennan (14) 30/20pts.

Second place for Murphy at Ulster Boys

Eoin Murphy

Eoin Murphy bowed out of Boys Golf with a super performance at the Ulster Boys Championship in Royal Portrush where he finished second to Thomas Higgins of Roscommon.

Higgins led from post to pillar after opening with a 66 and Murphy found himself 10 shots off the lead after shooting a five over par 76 in the first round.

However, he hauled himself back into contention with a bogey free seven under par 64 as he reeled off seven birdies to move up the leaderboard into fourth place, five shots behind Higgins.

In the final round Murphy had three birdies and one bogey for a two part 69 but, while that was enough to leapfrog into second place, it wasn’t enough to haul back Higgins who also shot 69 to keep his five shot margin over the Dundalk player.

Murphy went into the tournament with a plus one handicap and his two rounds under par were enough to push him out to plus two and see him achieve one of his major goals for the year.

Murphy pipped for Irish Intervarsities Championship

 

Eoin Murphy

EOIN Murphy went very close to keep the Irish Intervarsities title in Dundalk at Rosapenna when he was pipped for the title by one shot by James McVicker of Ulster University.

Playing for DKIT, Murphy jumped eight places in the final round after shooting a superb four under par 67 that included six birdies. He was holding the clubhouse lead when McVicker sank a 10 foot par putt on the last to pip him for the title which was won last year by his Dundalk team-mate Caolan Rafferty.

After opening the competition with a two over par 73, Murphy shot 78 in the second round after opening dropping five shots over the first three holes and then another five shots over the first three holes of the back nine.

In addition to his second place finish, Murphy was also tied first for most birdies (13) and the best Par Five average (4.33).

Josh Mackin was also in action In Rosapenna and the DKIT student shot rounds of 75, 75 and 78 to finish 11th while Sean Laverty missed the cut.

 

Dundalk beaten in All-Ireland Barton Shield Final

THE Senior Panel’s bid for All-Ireland glory came up agonisingly short when their senior panel was beaten by Athenry in the final of the AIG Barton Shield at Thurles on Friday.

Athenry won by three holes in a match that was in the balance until the 34th hole of what proved to be an epic encounter. The Galway side were deserving winners on a day when Dundalk’s normally laser-sharp driving deserted them.

Alan McCabe, who is joint manager of the Dundalk senior panel along with John Conlon, said they had no excuses.

“Athenry were deserving winners. They played very solid golf in both matches and unfortunately we were struggling to find fairways and hit greens in regulation. Nonetheless, we showed great character in taking the match right down to the wire and we will learn a lot from the experience.

“This was Athenry’s third visit in seven years to the All-Ireland Finals of the Barton Shield and only the first time they had made the final so it’s not an easy thing to win.

“It is disappointing to have come so close and failed but it has been a great campaign. Myself and John have been looking after the senior panel for the past three years and we have made progress every year to the point where this year we won the Leinster Barton Shield for the first time, reached the semi-finals of the Senior Cup in Leinster and the All-Ireland Final of the Barton Shield.

“We have a strong panel of dedicated players, a good team of caddies and also enjoy tremendous support from the club. It was a great source of encouragement to ourselves and the players that so many travelled down to Thurles from Dundalk.

“As a club and a senior panel we are making progress in the right direction and there is no reason that the lads can’t get back at the All-Ireland stage next year and hopefully go one better,” said McCabe.

The Barton Shield is a foursomes competition played off scratch with each club fielding two pairings and the match being decided by the aggregate hole score.

In Friday’s final, Aaron Grant and Conor Curran lost by four holes to Joe Beirne Jnr and Louis O’Hara in the top match while Caolan Rafferty and Eoin Murphy were one up with one to play against Darren Leufer and Allan Hill when Dundalk finally ran out of holes.

And yet, after five holes of the final, it looked as though Dundalk were well on their way to bridging the 14-year gap to their last, and only, national pennant. At that stage Grant and Curran were all square while Rafferty and Murphy were three up having won the third, fourth and fifth.

Indeed Curran and Grant were unlucky not be ahead as, after winning the second, they had lost the par three third to a par having seen Curran’s tee shot pitch on the green and then spin back into the water hazard at the front. At the next hole Curran hit a superb approach shot to within two feet for birdie but Athenry halved the hole when O’Hara drained a 30ft downhill putt.

It was on the 404 yard par four sixth hole that Dundalk’s aura of invincibility began to crack. Aaron Grant’s booming drive landed exactly where he wanted it but the ball kept skipping though the rough until it came to rest at the butt of a tree forcing Curran to play out left-handed.

With Athenry having failed to find the green in two, Grant then saw his delicate pitch from inside 100 yards end up in the massive front bunker. When Curran failed to find the green and Grant narrowly missed holing the resultant chip, Athenry found themselves in front for the first time in the top match.

It was a lead that Beirne and O’Hara would never relinquish as the Dundalk pairing failed to find a fairway for the rest of the round. It is testimony to the recovery skills of Grant and Curran that this match was still in the balance as they walked off the 15th green after Grant had sunk a testy four foot par putt to reduce the deficit to two.

Dundalk had lost the seventh to go two down after Curran’s drive found the trees on the right but they pulled a hole back on the ninth thanks to a magnificent approach from the top of a bank by Grant. Curran then saw his six foot putt for a win on 10 lip out and Beirne had to sink a six foot putt on 11 for a half after Grant’s long-range birdie putt had come to rest on the edge of the hole.

After 11 holes the overall match was delicately poised for while Grant and Curran were one down, Rafferty and Murphy were all square having gone from three up to one down in the space of five holes.

Their three hole winning run had come to an end on the infamous sixth when Murphy missed his par putt and they then lost the next when Hill drained a 20ft birdie putt. The par-five eighth looked be heading Dundalk’s way when Athenry lost their ball with their second shot but Murphy found the water guarding the green with Dundalk’s third and Hill then knocked in another excellent putt to win the hole with a bogey.

Failure to recover from a wayward drive on 10 saw the Dundalk pairing fall one behind but a brilliant 20 foot birdie putt from Murphy on the 11th got them back to all square and left it all to play for in the overall match with 14 holes to go.

But in the top match Grant and Curran quickly found themselves three down after losing the 12th and 13th when they failed to find both greens in regulation while behind them Rafferty and Murphy lost the par three 14th to a par after failing to find the green from the tee.

That left Dundalk trailing by four holes overall with eight holes to play but both pairings won the par four 15th hole with Grant sinking a knee-jerking four foot putt for par while Rafferty drained a 15ft birdie putt to reduce the overall deficit to two holes with six to play.

The 16th proved to be deciding hole. Shooting to a back pin, Athenry’s approach shot found the front part of the green while Curran, playing out of the trees on the left, saw the collar hold up his low running chip. Grant’s long birdie putt from just off the front of the green stopped two feet from the pin but O’Hara won the hole for Athenry when he drained another monster putt, this time holing from almost 40 feet.

That left the Grant and Curran trailing by three with two to play and when they failed to find the 17th green in three after another visit to the trees they were four down as they teed off on the 18th.

Behind them, Murphy and Rafferty had edged ahead when Murphy sank a birdie putt on 16 to put them one up in their match and reduce the overall deficit to three holes with three to play. But, Rafferty’s long drive on 17 was blocked out by a tree on the right forcing Murphy to lay up short of the green. Although Rafferty chipped to within six feet, the Athenry pairing secured their par to halve the hole and seal their first ever senior pennant.

In Thursday morning’s semi-final Dundalk had a comprehensive win over Kinsale, beating the Munster champions by ten holes with both pairings winning their respective matches by five holes.

In the top match, Grant and Curran got off to a nervy start but they still managed to win the opening hole and they went three up after winning the fourth in par and the sixth with birdie. They were pegged back when they lost the seventh but a great birdie putt from Curran saw them win the eighth after Kinsale had lost a ball off the tee.

Wins at 10 and 11 moved them to five up and although Kinsale won the 12th with a par, the Dundalk pairing took the 14th in par to move five up with four play.

Behind them Rafferty and Murphy were always in control and, after halving the first six holes, they finally nudged in front when Rafferty made a great up and down out of a bunker to win the seventh hole in par. They then proceeded to win the next four holes to go five up and halves on 12 and 13 closed out the match.

The Captain of Dundalk Golf Club, Gerry Byrne, paid tribute to the team. “Everybody in Dundalk Golf Club would like to congratulate the Senior Panel on a great campaign. It was tough to come up short in our quest for the club’s second ever national pennant but we did make a major breakthrough earlier in the year when we won the Leinster Barton Shield title for our first senior pennant. I have no doubt that we will learn from this experience and come back stronger next year.”