Walshe, Rocks, Casey-McKeever and Reilly on top in IJM Matchplay Series Finals

The IJM Scratch Matchplay Series was played out in September sunshine on Saturday as the 16 qualifiers in four categories battled it out for the Senior, Junior, Intermediate and Matchplay trophies.

The 16 players had qualified after finishing in the top four of their respective categories in the Golfer of the Year standings and, in the end, there were wins for Clem Walshe, Eddie Rocks, John Paul Casey-McKeever and Hugh Reilly but all four winners were made to fight all the way.  


Category 1 saw two of the Club’s young guns pitted against two of the most experienced players and it was the wily veterans who triumphed. In the top match Eddie Rogers was never behind from the moment he took the lead on the second hole and he was three up after winning the fourth and fifth holes. Laverty then won the back to back par fives to pull the deficit back to one hole after seven but Rogers responded by winning the next two to turn 3up with nine to play. He then won the 11th to go four up and although Laverty took the 13th, he bogeyed the next to go four down with four to play and a half on 15 gave Rogers a 4&3 win.

In the other semi-final Clem Walshe met Sean Reidy and once he got his nose in front he never gave Reidy a sniff. After halving the first four holes, Walshe went ahead on the fifth and then rolled in successive birdies on six and seven to go three up and extended his lead to four with another birdie on the ninth. Reidy did produced a birdie of his own on the 10th to get a hole back but another birdie on the 12th saw Walshe restore his four hole lead and he quickly extended it to five with a par on 13 before halving the 14th to record a 5&4 victory having shot three-under par for the 14 holes played.

The final was a much closer affair and was all square after the opening two holes as Walshe won the first and Rogers the second. They halved the next four holes before Walshe got his nose in front again on the seventh but Rogers won the ninth to bring it back to all square at the turn. After the 10th was halved, the match was ultimately decided over the next two holes as Walshe won both in par to open up a two hole lead with six holes to go. He then parred his way to the 17th to win 2&1 and take the IJM Senior Scratch Cup as Rogers battled in vain for the birdie he needed to haul himself back into the content.


In Category 2 there was another match-up between youth and experience in both semi-finals and, just like the senior section, the junior matches saw experience prevail. In the top match Eddie Rocks beat newly crowned Golfer of the Year Emmet Savage McCabe on the 18th having been three down with seven to play. Rocks had won the opening hole but Savage McCabe drew level on the fifth and then won the next two holes. Rocks parred the ninth to reduce his lead at the turn but McCabe Savage struck back by winning the 10th and 11th to go three up. Rocks took the 12th and then won the 14th and 15th to leave it all square with three to play. After halving the next two holes, Rocks then parred the 18th to win one up.

In the other semi-final Conor Murphy struck first by winning the opening hole but was pegged back on the next and when he won the third he could only hold his lead until the fifth. Hanratty eventually took the lead for the first time in the match on the seventh and won the eight to extend it to two holes. However, Murphy came fighting back and won the ninth and 10th to bring the match back to all square with eight to play. It was nip and tuck after that. Hanratty won 12, lost 13, won 14 and 15, lost 16 and then won 17 with a birdie two to close out the match and win by 2&1.  

The final between Hanratty and Rocks saw the pair halve the opening four holes before Rocks took the fifth with a par and then won six and seven to open up a three hole lead. Although Hanratty won the eighth, Rocks took the ninth to restore his three hole advantage. That only lasted one hole as Hanratty claimed the 10th but Rocks won the final par five, the 12th, to go back to three up and extended his lead to four holes with a birdie on the par four 14th. That left him dormie four but Hanratty wasn’t surrendering easily and won the 15th. However, Rocks managed to get a half on 16 to record a 3&2 win and take the IJM Junior Scratch Cup.


In Category 3 there was never more than one hole between Patrick Dunne and Sean Gallagher in what turned out to be a titanic battle between the pair. Dunne struck first blood at the opening hole but Gallagher won the fourth to level it and went one up by taking the seventh. Davis took the ninth and then went one-up on the 10th but Gallagher took the 13th to level it again and then won the 14th and 15th to go two up with three to play. He went dormie two after the 16th was halved but Dunne took the 17th and then drained a monster putt on 18 to send the match down the 19th where Gallagher’s 10ft putt par was enough to sent him through to the final.

In the other semi-final John Paul Casey-McKeever met David Lynch and the 26-year-old struck a blow for the younger players with a comprehensive 7&6 victory. He won the second, third, fourth and fifth to open up a four-hole lead and although Lynch won the eighth to cut that lead, Casey-McKeever captured the next three holes to go six up with seven to play and then won the 13th to close out the match.

The final between Casey-McKeever and Gallagher was a lot closer. Gallagher took the third but a birdie at the par five sixth saw Casey-McKeever get back to all square. Gallagher retook the lead on the eighth but Casey-McKeever took the next to leave them all square at the turn. Casey-McKeever then won the 10th to lead for the first time in the match and then won the 11th to go two up. Gallagher parred the next to get one hole back but then lost the 14th to find himself two behind again. They halved the 15th in par before Casey-McKeever took the 16th to win 3&2 and take the IJM Intermediate Scratch Cup.


The first Category Four semi-final featured two highly experienced golfers in Hugh Reilly and PJ Dooley so getting an early advantage was always going to be crucial and Reilly got himself into the driving seat by winning the second and third. Dooley parred the fifth to pull a hole back and although Reilly won the next to go back to two up, Dooley took the next to reduce the deficit to one. Reilly, however, finished the front nine strongly by winning the eighth and ninth to go three up. Dooley won the 12th to get back to two down but Reilly restored his three shot lead with a par at the 14th.  Dooley, however, wasn’t giving up and parred the 15th for a win. The pair then parred the long par four 16th as the golf moved up a gear and Reilly went dormie two and a par at the 17th saw Reilly win the hole and take the match by 3&1.    

The other semi-final saw Paul Morgan take on John McEneaney for whom qualifying for the IJM Matchplay Series was a remarkable achievement. He is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and took the opportunity before he teed off to highlight the importance of men getting tested regularly. After losing the opening hole, McEneaney halved the next four but then lost five in a row to find himself six down with eight to play. He pulled a hole back by winning the 12th and then reduced the deficit to four holes with four to play by taking the 14th with a par but Morgan managed to get the half he needed on the next and won by 4&3.

A par on the opening hole of the final gave Morgan the perfect start against Reilly but the Cavan man responded clinically by taking the next three holes to open up a two hole lead. He then drove home his advantage by winning the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth to open up a six hole having covered the opening nine holes in four under par nett.  It looked all over at that stage but Morgan dug deep and started a remarkable comeback. He won the 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th to reduce Reilly’s lead to two hole but then lost a ball off his drive on 15 and a relieved Reilly took the hole to go three up with three to play. But Morgan wasn’t finished. He parred the index four 16th to bring the gap back to two holes but Reilly hung on and got the half he needed on 17 to take the IJM Minor Scratch Cup by 2&1 after a superb match.

Sponsor Peter McCaughey of IJM joined Captain Trevor Giff and President Vincent Conlon when the players picked up their trophies after the event. The Captain thanked Peter for his generous sponsorship of the event and paid tribute to all who qualified for the IJM Series before going on to congratulate the four winners.

Saturday, September 20 – IJM Scratch Matchplay Results. Semi-Finals: Category 1 (Blue Course) Eddie Rogers bt Joseph Laverty 4&3, Clem Walsh bt Sean Reidy 5&4. Category 2 (Blue Course): Eddie Rocks bt Emmet Savage McCabe 1up, Eugene Hanratty bt Conor Murphy 2&1. Category 3 (White Course): Sean Gallagher bt Patrick Dunne 19th,  John Paul Casey-McKeever bt David Lynch 7&5. Category 4 (White Course): Hugh Reilly bt PJ Dooley 3&1, Paul Morgan bt John McEneaney 4&3. Finals: Category 1: Clem Walshe bt Eddie Rogers 2&1. Category 2: Eddie Rocks bt Eugene Hanratty 3&2. Category 3: John Paul Casey-McKeever bt Sean Gallagher 3&2. Category 4: Hugh Reilly bt Paul Morgan 2&1.