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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Panel reach Barton Shield All-Ireland Final

DUNDALK Golf Club’s Senior Panel have reached the AIG Barton Shield All-Ireland Final after a comprehensive win over Munster championship Kinsale in this morning’s semi-final at Thurles Golf Club.

Dundalk beat the Cork club by 10 holes with Aaron Grant and Conor Curran five up with four play while Caolan Rafferty and Eoin Murphy were five up with five play when play came to an end.

Dundalk will now face Athenry in tomorrow morning’s final at 10:15am. Athenry won their match against Clandeboye by seven 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 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.

 

Trip to Tipp in search of Barton Shield glory

Dundalk Golf Club is making its own Trip to Tipp this week as its senior panel heads to Thurles for the All-Ireland Finals of the Barton Shield.

Having won the club’s first ever senior title in July when they captured the Barton Shield Leinster pennant, the senior panel are now looking to make history again by landing a first ever national pennant at senior level.

Dundalk’s only previous national men’s golf title was in 2004 when they won the Jimmy Bruen Shield and there is a strong desire around the Blackrock links to add another.

But it’s not going to be easy as Dundalk will face Munster champions Kinsale in their semi-final on Thursday morning and if they come through that assignment they will meet either Clandeboye or Athenry in Friday’s final.

The Munster finals were held in Thurles a few weeks ago so Kinsale will feel very much at home when they tee it up on Thursday. The Cork men are also guaranteed big support as they have also qualified for the national finals of the Jimmy Bruen Shield which are also being played in Thurles this week.

Like Dundalk, Kinsale won their first provincial Barton Shield pennant this year when they beat Munster Senior Cup winners Dungarvan in the provincial semi-final and then defeated Castletroy in the final.

They did it without their top player, Irish international John Murphy, a plus five handicap player who is on a golf scholarship in America. Murphy has had a great year, winning the St Andrews Trophy and making Ireland’s Eisenhower Trophy team so it remains to be seen if Kinsale will stick with the four men who got them to this stage – Gary Ward, Keith Fitzpatrick, Cathal Butler and Eric Rumley – or bring Murphy home to strengthen their challenge.

However, Alan McCabe, who manages the Dundalk team along with John Conlon, says the fact that Kinsale won the Munster title without Murphy shows the strength of their panel and he added that Dundalk will face a formidable challenge no matter who they face.

“They have an immediate advantage from the Munster finals being played in Thurles and having two teams qualified for this week means they will have no shortage of support. Winning a Munster senior title is no mean feat so they have to be respected. All we can do is concentrate on ourselves and ensure that we are ready to go on Thursday morning. We are well aware that we may never get this opportunity again to win a national title. This is a unique chance for the boys to bring a national pennant back to Dundalk and we intend to give it our best shot,” said McCabe.

Dundalk were in Thurles last weekend practicing and will head south on Tuesday to begin final preparations on a track that is not too dissimilar to their own course according to McCabe.

“It is similar to our own in that it is a traditional parkland course and a members club. The holes are tree-lined and there are some tricky greens. It is a great venue and the members and staff were lovely.”

The Barton Shield is a foursomes competition with each club fielding two pairings and the overall match is decided by the aggregate score of the two matches.

Dundalk will select their four players for Thursday’s semi-final from an eight strong panel that includes Irish international and South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty as well Aaron Grant, Eoin Murphy, Josh Mackin, Brendan Lawlor, Neal MacKell, Andrew Keenan and Conor Curran. All have been playing well this year and McCabe admits they face some tough decisions.

“There is huge competition among the eight players and they have pushed each other very hard all year. They have a great spirit and the four who don’t play will be fully behind those who are playing. They are proud to be not only representing the club but also Dundalk, Louth and Leinster.”

 

Schedule

AIG All-Ireland Barton Shield at Thurles Golf Club

Thursday, October 4

Semi-Finals: Dundalk v Kinsale 08:20, Clandeboye v Athenry 08:40

Friday, October 5

Final: 10:15

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

 

 

Dundalk head for Mount Juliet seeking senior double

 

Aaron Grant

WHEN Dundalk won the AIG Barton Shield Leinster title at Mount Wolseley four weeks ago, a massive weight was lifted off the shoulders of Aaron Grant.

The 31-year-old had endured many years of heartache in the quest to be part of a successful senior team but the smile on his face when Dundalk sealed their win over Enniscorthy in the provincial final said it all.

“It’s been a long journey. I have been playing senior golf for the club since I was 15 so to finally be part of a Dundalk team that won a senior pennant was a great feeling. To go on and win an All-Ireland would be unbelievable.”

Having waited a long time to get his hands on one blue Leinster pennant, Grant now finds himself heading to Mount Juliet this weekend with his senior panel team-mates hoping to land a second when Dundalk and seven other clubs tee it up in Leinster Finals of the AIG Senior Cup.

The Senior Cup is the Holy Grail of inter-club golf club in Ireland and was first played for in 1900, five years before Dundalk Golf Club was founded. Having achieved the objective of landing a first ever senior club title last month, Grant and his team-mates are now keen to do the double.

“I believe you have got to take your chance when it comes along. We don’t know what is going to happen next year so this is a great opportunity for us and we will be doing our best to take it,” said Grant.

Dundalk qualified for the Leinster Finals after three impressive wins over Killeen Castle, Headfort and Co Louth in the regional qualifying round of the Senior Cup at Laytown & Bettystown last June.

The Dundalk squad spent the weekend in Mount Juliet preparing for the Leinster finals and according to Grant nothing is being left to chance.

“We have two great managers in Alan McCabe and John Conlon and they are brilliant. They don’t leave any stone unturned and their attention to detail is amazing. It’s great for us, as players, because it lets us concentrate on playing golf.”

One of the features of the Barton Shield Leinster Finals was the large crowd from Dundalk who made their way to Tullow and a big contingent is expected to travel to Mount Juliet on Saturday to support the team in their Leinster quarter-final against The Island.

“There is a great buzz around the club at the moment. Our success is down to a great juvenile programme that the likes of Paul Malone, Vincent Conlon, Jim Carragher and Liam Mernagh have looked after for years. Leslie Walker, our club professional, has also done a great job in bringing players through and his experience is invaluable.”

The match against The Island will tee off at 8am on Saturday morning and the format is five players playing singles matchplay off scratch. Dundalk managers Alan McCabe and John Conlon will select from an eight strong panel, every one of whom is showing good form at the moment.

“Since the Barton Shield win they have all been focused on securing one of the five places on the team to face The Island on Saturday and they have certainly given us plenty to think about. We’ll have a few tough calls to make but that’s the way we want it, everybody pushing hard for selection.” said Conlon.

If Dundalk get through, they will face the winners of the quarter-final between Dun Laoghaire and Tullamore at 2pm on Saturday. Old Conna, Portmarnock, Carton House and Enniscorthy are in the bottom half of the draw and the final is scheduled for Sunday morning at 10am.

Having battled alongside the likes of Peter Rogers, Declan Toal and Simon Waters for many years trying to make a breakthrough, Grant admits he is exciting by the potential of the current senior panel which includes the likes of newly crowned South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty, Boys internationals Eoin Murphy and Josh Mackin, Brendan Lawlor who is currently ranked second on the European Disabled Golfers Association Tour, as well as Conor Curran, Neal MacKell and Andrew Keenan.

“We now have the strength in depth to know that whatever five are picked to play they are capable of delivering five points,” observed Grant. “We’ve never been in that position before and the young players who are coming through are getting better and better all time.”

Little wonder that Grant is walking around with a spring in step and finally realising a dream that was first ignited many years ago when he watched his neighbour Justin McArdle hitting golf balls from the Sean O’Mahony’s pitch on the Point Road and trying to land them in the centre circle of Clancy Park.

“Justin was a big inspiration to me and I am lucky that I always got wonderful encouragement and support from my parents, my wife, Maria, and my children while others, like Terry Sloane, helped me in the early days to get to play in the boys and youths championships and events like the Mullingar Scratch Cup,” recalled Grant who famously beat a certain Rory McIllroy in 2004 at the Connacht Boys Championship in Portumna.

Grant has been a man on a mission ever since then and this weekend is merely the next chapter in what he hopes will be a year to remember for Dundalk Golf Club.

Dundalk Senior Panel: Conor Curran, Aaron Grant, Andrew Keenan, Brendan Lawlor, Neal MacKell, Josh Mackin, Eoin Murphy, Caolan Rafferty. Managers: Alan McCabe and John Conlon.

ENDS

CHAMPIONS! Dundalk claims first senior title

DUNDALK Golf Club made an historic breakthrough at the weekend by winning the Leinster Final of the AIG Barton Shield and claiming the club’s first ever senior title.

They did it in style with impressive victories over Corrstown, Elm Park and Enniscorthy in the provincial finals which were held at Mount Wolseley Golf Club in Tullow, Co Carlow, on Friday and Saturday.

The Barton Shield is one of the two senior trophies on offer for Irish golf clubs each and features the top amateur players in the country. It is played off scratch in a foursomes matchplay format with two pairings representing each club and the aggregate score from each match deciding the match.

For joint managers Alan McCabe and John Conlon it was the culmination of three years’ work having taken over responsibility for the club’s senior panel in 2016.

“We reached the Leinster quarter-finals the first year and then got the semi-finals last year and lost to the eventual winners,” said Conlon. “We set ourselves a target of going one better this year and once we got to the final we were determined to take the opportunity because we knew we had no divine right to think we will ever get a second chance.”

Dundalk headed to Tullow with an eight man panel made up of the experienced Aaron Grant, Irish international Caolan Rafferty, Boys Internationals Eoin Murphy and Josh Mackin and low single figure players Conor Curran, Brendan Lawlor, Andrew Keenan and Neal MacKell.

“While only four played, this was very much a group effort and everybody in the panel bought into what we were trying to do which was winning a Leinster pennant,” said McCabe. “The four who didn’t play all had important supporting roles over the weekend while Conor Curran played a major part in ensuring we got through our regional qualifying tournament back in May when Caolan Rafferty was away on international duty. He typified the spirit we have in this group.”

Dundalk qualified for the Leinster Finals by finishing second in qualifying at Balcarrick and then beating Greenore and Royal Dublin in the matchplay rounds to book one of the eight places on offer.

Dundalk were drawn in the top bracket against Corrstown while Elm Park faced Kilkenny, Portmarnock met Dun Laoghaire and Enniscorthy played Tullamore.

McCabe and Conlon paired Aaron Grant and teenager Josh Mackin in the top match while Caolan Rafferty partnered Eoin Murphy in the bottom match for the quarter-final against Corrstown on Friday morning.

Dundalk quickly took control of the tie against the Dublin club and at no stage was either pairing behind in their respective matches.

In the bottom match, Rafferty and Murphy won the second but lost the sixth to go back to all square. They then won the next two holes and turned for home two up. After halving the 10th in birdies, the Dundalk pair then won the next four holes with birdies to be six up when they were called in after 14 holes.

In the top match, Grant and Mackin also won the second hole and Grant chipped in from off the ninth green for a birdie two to give the duo a three hole lead at the turn. They lost the 11th but won 14 to be three up with four to play and, although they lost the 15th, they halved the 16th to ensure Dundalk’s victory.

Elm Park defeated Kilkenny in their quarter-final match and stood between Dundalk and a place in the final. Team managers McCabe and Conlon kept faith with the morning pairings and they justified their selection with a magnificent five hole victory over the biggest golf club in Ireland.

However, they were made to fight extremely hard for their win with both pairings finding themselves trailing at different stages and having to dig deep to haul themselves back into their respective matches.

In the top match, Grant and Mackin faced an Elm Park pairing that included Irish Boys International Charlie Denvir who tried to drive the green on fourth but found a greenside bunker from which Elm Park failed to get up and down. Aaron Grant then rolled in a 15ft birdie putt to put Dundalk in front.

Elm Park won the next to get it back to level and then went ahead on the par three sixth after Denvir’s tee shot set up a winning birdie but it was back to all square a hole later.

Dundak turned one hole up after winning the ninth with a par but a great chip from Denvir set up a winning birdie for Elm Park on the 10th and he hit another great chip on the 11th to set up another win as the Dubliners went ahead with seven holes to play.

After halving 12, thanks to another great putt from Grant, Dundalk got it back to all square and the match turned in Dundalk’s favour in dramatic fashion on the 15th hole. Mackin’s tee shot found the 10th fairway from where Grant played a superb recovery shot to be pin high in a greenside bunker where he was joined by Elm Park after Denvir pulled his wedge shot from the middle of the fairway. Dundalk made five after Grant’s putt was conceded and Elm Park missed their putt to give Grant and Mackin a one shot lead they held until they were called in on their way to the 18th tee.

Behind them, Rafferty and Murphy had won by four holes after showing great character to bounce back after losing the opening two holes.

They won the next two to get back to all square and then took control of the match when they birdied the sevenths and parred the eighth to open up a two hole lead.

They went three up after winning the 10th and although they lost the 12th to a birdie four they birdied 14 and 15 to go five up and a half on 16 was enough to seal Dundalk’s place in the Leinster final for the first time.

Enniscorthy shocked pre-tournament favourites Dun Laoghaire, winning the other semi-final by three holes, and they teed it up alongside Dundalk on Saturday morning.

Dundalk kept faith with the quartet that got them to the final and in the top match Grant and Mackin opened up an early lead when their opponents three-putted the opening hole.

They held that lead to the fifth, when a lost ball off the tee opened the door for Enniscorthy to draw level. Two great bunker shots by Mackin on the next two holes prevented Enniscorthy from taking the lead and the youngster then played a superb approach into the eight to set up a 15ft birdie putt from Grant to win the hole.

They went two up after winning the 10th despite finding the trees down the left from the tee from where Mackin could only pitch the ball back onto the fairway. Enniscorthy, sensing an opportunity, decided to lay up in front of the stream protecting the narrow green but Grant called their bluff by producing the shot of the week, a magnificent two iron into the wind from 238 yards which he left six feet from a back pin. After Enniscorthy made five, Mackin showed nerves of steel to sink the birdie putt to win the hole in four.

On the next hole Mackin rolled in a par putt to move Dundalk three up and although they lost the 14th to a remarkable birdie they halved the next two holes and were two up playing the 16th when they were called in.

Behind them Rafferty and Murphy quickly got holes on the board by winning the opening two holes and went three up with a win on the fourth. A superb tee-shot from Murphy set up a six foot birdie putt and a win from Rafferty on the sixth and although they lost the ninth, they turned three up.

Their lead was reduced to two after they lost the par three 11th to a birdie but they responded to that set back in magnificent style by eagling the par five 12th. A birdie at the 14th moved them back to four up and when Enniscorthy failed to match their birdie at the 15th, they moved to five up.

That left Dundalk’s aggregate score at seven holes ahead with six to play and triggered joyous scenes as the large crowd of club and family members who had travelled south to support the team over the two days celebrated with the players, caddies and managers.

“The support was fantastic,” said McCabe. “It was definitely a big help to us and we greatly appreciate the efforts people made to get to Mount Wolseley. Hopefully, they will be able to travel in big numbers to Thurles in October for the All-Ireland Finals.”

Before that, Dundalk have a chance to complete a Leinster double as they have also qualified for the provincial finals in the AIG Senior Cup, the first time in the club’s history that they have qualified for both elite Leinster finals in the same year.

They will play The Island in the quarter-final at Mount Juliet on August 25 with the semi-final scheduled for that afternoon and the final the following day.

“All the focus for the next five weeks is going to be on Mount Juliet,” said McCabe. “It’s a different type of format but we will prepare properly for it and there is no doubt that winning the Barton Shield pennant will give all the panel members great confidence heading to Mount Juliet.”

Dundalk Captain Gerry Byrne said had been a great weekend for the club. “It is a great feeling to see the club win its first senior pennant and it was very pleasing to see them win it playing some fantastic golf. Great credit must go to the players, caddies and managers as well as the magnificent supporters who really got behind the team all weekend. Most of our senior panel have come through our excellent juvenile programme and the likes of Paul Malone, Vincent Conlon, Jim Carraher, Liam Mernagh and our club professional Leslie Walker have now seen a lot of their hard work over the years come to fruition at the top end of Irish club golf.”

BARTON SHIELD LEINSTER FINALS RESULTS

Quarter Finals

Dundalk bt Corrstown by 8 Holes.

Elm Park bt Kilkenny by 3 Holes

Enniscorthy bt Tullamore by 4 Holes

Dun Laoghaire bt Portmarnock by 8 Holes.

 

Semi Finals

Dundalk bt Elm Park by 5 Holes

Enniscorthy bt Dun Laoghaire by 3 Holes

 

Final

Dundalk bt Enniscorthy by 7 Holes

 

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.

 

Dundalk reach Barton Shield quarter-finals

Barton Shield squad

Dundalk Golf Club have reached the last eight of the Leinster section of the Barton Shield for the second successive year after some superb performances at Balcarrick Golf Club over the weekend.

After qualifying in second place behind Portmarnock on Saturday, Dundalk then beat Greenore and Royal Dublin in Sunday’s matchplay ties to advance to the Leinster Finals which will take place in Mount Wolseley on the weekend of July 20 and 21.

With recently crowned club champion Caolan Rafferty away on international duty in France with Ireland, Dundalk managers Alan McCabe, John Conlon and Fergal Harte looked to Conor Curran to step up to the plate and he didn’t disappoint.

Curran partnered Irish Boys international Eoin Murphy while the experienced Aaron Grant was paired with the club’s other Boys International, Josh Mackin for the foursomes event.

Both pairings shot rounds of 76 as Dundalk finished three shots behind Portmarnock in qualifying but well inside the qualifying mark of 160 from which the field of 25 clubs was whittled down to eight for the matchplay phase where two clubs would qualify for the Leinster finals.

On Sunday morning, Dundalk faced neighbours Greenore and beat them by four holes with Murphy and Curran winning by one hole while Grant and Mackin were 3up when they were called in, having been all square at the turn.

That earned the team an afternoon match against Royal Dublin for a place in Mount Wolseley in July and things didn’t look good in the top match early on as Murphy and Curran found themselves two down but birdies on seven and 11 brought them back to all square.

They went behind again when they lost the 15th but came good in the end by winning the final two holes to win their match 1up.

Grant and Mackin got their noses in front early on by sinking birdie putts to win two of the first three holes and they then won the 10th and the 11th to extend their lead to four holes with seven to play.

They were still four ahead with four to play but then saw their lead halved when Royal Dublin won the 15th and 16th but a half on the 17th ensured a two hole victory as the match was called in once Murphy and Curran had got over the line up ahead.

Next up for Dundalk’s elite squad will be the Senior Cup qualifier on June 23 in Laytown & Bettystown when the format will be five singles matches.

Dundalk’s elite ladies were also in action on the Donabate peninsula on Sunday as they faced a Senior Foursomes qualifier along with 11 other clubs at Donabate Golf Club and were unlucky to encounter the worst of the heavy rain which fell in the Fingal area during the afternoon.

The team of Jennifer Holland, Criona O’Reilly, Jacinta Foran, Elaine Ward, Ann Hopper and Pauline Campbell missed out by two shots on qualifying for the next phase of the competition,

The JB Carr Diamond Trophy Team went down fighting as they tried in vain to overhaul a 0-5 deficit when they faced Greenore in the second leg of the Co Louth on the Cooley Peninsula last Friday. Despite giving from one to three shots to their opponents in each of their matches, the Dundalk pairings were two up in two matches and level in two others when they were called in after Greenore got the point they needed for overall victory with a 3&2 win as they closed out the top match on the 16th hole.

The inter-club competitions continue this week with all eyes on the All-Ireland Fourball team who meet Headfort on Saturday in the last 16 of the Leinster section. Three of the matches are in Kells with the other two in Dundalk.

 

Ladies Senior Foursomes team