More good wins for inter-club teams

On the inter-club front there were two good wins in the past week. The Jimmy Bruen Shield team beat Headfort 3-2 with the match being decided when Darren Murphy and Niall Murphy won on the 19th hole.

On Sunday evening the Junior Cup team beat Ardee 3-2 with the match being decided when Ricky Newell won on the 19th in Ardee. Dundalk also won the other match in Ardee with Colin Roche coming from four down to win 4&3.

In Dundalk Robbie O’Hanlon won 3&2 but there were defeats for Ciaran Johnston who went down 2&1 and Brian Óg Reneghan who lost 4&3.

The Senior Cup team bowed out of this year’s competition when they lost 3.5 to 1.5 to Laytown & Bettystown. Dundalk were without Caolan Rafferty, who was away with Ireland at the European Team Championships, and Aaron Grant, who was unavailable due to work commitments. Josh Mackin, Conor Curran and Neal MacKell were beaten in Laytown while Eoin Murphy won in Dundalk and Jason Murphy was called in going down the 19th.

                                          

Rafferty off to Irish Open after leading Senior Cup team to victory

Caolan Rafferty is off to this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet with club colleague Eoin Murphy on his bag.

This will be Caolan’s first European Tour event although he did take part in the recent Challenge Tour event at Portmarnock and played in the Pro-Am at the 2019 Irish Open in Lahinch. 

Rafferty is in good form at the moment as last Wednesday he shot 40pts off plus four to win the low category in the Open Singles competition at Dundalk and the following day he led the Senior Cup team into the third round of the competition as they beat Greenore 3-2 and gained some revenge for their Barton Shield defeat a fortnight earlier.

Rafferty and Eoin Murphy both won their home matches on the 15th while Josh Mackin won on the 17th in Greenore to secure the match-winning point. Jason Murphy and Joseph Laverty both made their Senior Cup debuts for the Club and, while both were beaten away from home, they will have benefited greatly from the experience.

The Jimmy Bruen Cup team are also through to the next round of their competition after beating Royal Tara 3-2. While Gerard Carroll & Alan McCabe were beaten away from home, Fergal Harte & Emmet Savage McCabe got a vital away point with a 3&2 win. That left Dundalk needing just two wins from the three home matches and they were delivered by Chris Clarke & Donal Sheridan who won 2up and Darren Murphy & Niall Martin who won 4&3 while Mark Cumiskey & Paddy Puton were beaten 1up after their opponents left their drive on the 18th just ten yards from the front of the green where there was a forward pin.  

The Junior Cup team are also through to the next round after beating Greenore 4-1. Ciaran Johnston won 4&3, Brian Og Reneghan won 4&3 and Richard Newell won 2&1 to secure the win with Colin Roche one up when he was called in while Chris Clarke was beaten 2&1.

The Barton Cup team lost their match against Greenore 4-1. John Conlon and Chris Clarke were beaten on the 18th, while Brian Og Reneghan & Denis Cunningham lost on the 17th and Clem Walshe and Ronan Farrelly were beaten on the 16th. The remaining two matches involving Feergal Harte & Emmet Savage McCabe and Aidan Thornton & Conor Hackett were both in sudden death when called in.

 

Men’s teams off to a good start with four wins in a week

It’s been a good week for Dundalk Golf Club on the inter-club front with four wins from five outings for the men’s teams.

The Fred Perry team kicked things off last Wednesday with a 3-2 win over Balbriggan and the Senior Cup team, which features our elite players, made it two out of two on Thursday when they beat Forest Little by 3.5 to 1.5. Aaron Grant won 6&4, Josh Mackin won 3&2 and Caolan Rafferty won 6&5 while Eoin Murphy was all square playing 18 when he was called in. Debutant Jason Murphy lost 3&2 in his first appearance at this level for the club.

On Friday, the Junior Cup team beat Co Louth, with Christy Ward and Colin Roche winning away, before the Provincial Towns Cup team had a 4.5 to 2.5 win over Greenore with Darren Murphy showing great character to clinch victory with a birdie on the 19th hole after he had been three up with three to play.

That made it four wins out of four for the week but the winning run came to an end on Sunday evening when the All-Ireland Fourball team lost 3-2 to South Meath.  

Week dominated by titanic battles with Ardee in cup competitions

Last week was dominated by a series of titanic inter-club battles with neighbours Ardee as the clubs met in the Senior Cup, Jimmy Bruen Shield and Barton Cup having already clashed in the Junior Cup the previous weekend when Ardee ran out winners by 3.5 to 1.5.

Hopes of immediately gaining revenge for that defeat last Thursday in the Senior Cup were dashed when the young Ardee team emerged 3-2 winners in dramatic fashion. The match was in the balance after Aaron Grant and Caolan Rafferty won while Andrew Keenan and Conor Curran were beaten. Eoin Murphy was two up with three holes to play but failed to close out the match and ended up losing on the 20th.

The Jimmy Bruen Cup team were next on the Friday and there was plenty of drama here as well. Damian English and Aidan Thornton lost 6&5 in Ardee but Eugene Hanratty and Conor Murphy won 4&3 while in Dundalk Emmet Savage and Ciaran Sheridan lost on the 17th but Joseph Laverty and Michael Staunton secured a sensation victory on the 18th when Laverty holed his approach for an eagle two to win one up. That left everything hanging on the final match in Ardee where teenagers Ciaran Johnston and Chris Clarke were all square through 19 before bad light halted play.

The match was eventually concluded last Thursday when Johnson and Martin returned to Ardee. ch in our Jimmy Bruen Shield tie against the home club. The 20th, which was the second in Ardee, was par three and both Dundalk players found the green from the tee with Ardee chipping on to eight and 10 feet respectively. Johnston from 60ft got to within three feet of the hole while Clarke, rolled his swinging putt inside him. When Ardee missed both their par putts, it was left to Johnston to close out the match with a solid putt.  Dundalk will now play The Island in the next round.

Ardee’s impressive first round demolition of Headfort meant they started as raging hot favourites when the clubs met for the fourth time in eight days in the Barton Cup last Saturday but manager Carl Stewart had his homework done, got his pairings right and with watched with satisfaction as Dundalk won the three first three matches #

In Dundalk, Andrew Keenan and Conor Conroy, playing in the top match, were always in control from the moment Keenan won the opening hole. They went two up after winning the 13th and although Ardee responded immediately by winning the 14th, Conroy won the 15th and they closed out the match on 16 for a 3&2 win.

Behind them Clem Walshe and Kevin Redmond looked to be on their way victory when they were three up after eight but Ardee won the next three holes to draw level and ask serious questions of the Dundalk duo. However, Walshe and Redmond hung in and eventually got back in front on the 15th before closing out the match by taking 18 to win 2up.

That left Dundalk 2-0 ahead and they got over the line when Mark Gorham and 15-year-old Chris Clarke snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the top match in Ardee. A purple patch from the 8th hole onwards saw Ardee open up a commanding four hole lead through 11 but Gorman and Clarke kept their nerve and dug deep. Over the next six holes they dovetailed well to bring it back to all square with one to play.  A superb 20 foot birdie putt from Gorham on the 18th nullified Ardee’s nett birdie to send the match into sudden death where it was finally decided on the 21st when Clarke showed nerves of steel to sink a slippery six foot par for par and the winning point.

The other matches were called in, giving Dundalk a 4-1 victory. Shane Hession and John Mulligan were all square going down 18 after a high quality encounter where there was never more than one hole between the pairings while Peter Rogers and Bobby McCarthy were also involved in a tight match and were on the verge of going back to all square on the 17th when their match was called in.

Wins in Senior and Junior Cups but Pierce Purcell team lose

There’s been a good start to the commencement of inter-club competitions for 2020 with two of our three teams recording first round victories over the past week.

On Thursday, our Senior Cup team had a narrow 3-2 win over Laytown & Bettytown who had won the regional qualifier last year in Dundalk and, with three matches of the five matches being played on the famous Co Meath links, they were favourites to advance.

The match was decided in Laytown after it finished 1-1 in Dundalk where Aaron Grant played some great golf to see off Jack McDonnell who had won the Balbriggan Scratch Cup the previous Sunday. McDonnell was five under through the front nine and along the way eagled the par five sixth following a drive and wedge to eight feet.

But after being two down after two, Grant hung in and won five and 11 to go level with seven to play, He edged in front by winning the 15th and then sealed a 2 and 1 victory by winning on 17.

Behind him Josh Mackin found himself three down after four but managed to steady the ship without being able to eat into his opponent’s lead and eventually ran out of holes on the 16th as he lost 3 and 2, having shaved the edge of the hole with his birdie putt.

In Laytown, Maurice Murphy played their star player Alex Maguire, recently returned from an impressive sophomore year in Florida Atlantic University, in the top match but a misbehaving driver left Maurice chasing the match from early on and he eventually he succumbed on the 14th hole.

Behind him, Eoin Murphy played Annrai Collins and after a blistering start he was three up after three holes. Although Collins pulled him back to all square after 10, Murphy’s power game was ideally suited to the newly re-routed Laytown layout and a series of 350 yard plus drives saw him regain control of the match and run out a comfortable 3&1 winner.

That left everything hinging on the final match where Irish international and Walker Cup star Caolan Rafferty was matched against the dogged David Foy. An out of sorts Rafferty, combined with some inspired iron play from Foy, saw the Dundalk player trailing by one hole with six to play.

But, with Dundalk’s Senior Cup campaign hanging by a thread, Rafferty rose to the challenge and popped in three birdies over the next five holes to record a great 2&1 win and earn Dundalk a place in the next round against either Ardee or Royal Tara.

The clubs met again on Friday in the Junior Cup with Dundalk have the advantage of three matches at home and they made it count as Andrew Keenan, Billy Cairns and Joseph Laverty all won while Laytown and Bettystown won their two home matches to leave the final score at 3-2.

After almost driving the first hole, Keenan was never in trouble in the top match and romped to a 5&4 victory while Cairns won 2&1. Laverty found himself two down after four holes but responded well and played some great golf as he hauled himself back into the match and on the 17th.

On Sunday the Pierce Purcell Shield team met Royal Tara with three matches taking place in Dundalk. The Meath club won the two matches over their home track by 4&2 while, in Dundalk, Ultan Herr and Emmet Savage McCabe took the top match 3&2. John Mulligan & Michael O’Sullivan were dormie two as they headed to the 17th tee but they were called in after Danny Miele & Pat Davis, in the bottom match, lost on the 15th to a strong Meath pairing.

Dundalk beaten in Senior Cup Regional Final

Despite hosting the event in Dundalk, the Senior Panel were beaten in the Regional Final of the AIG Senior Cup on Sunday by an excellent Laytown & Bettytown team who now progress to the Leinster quarter-final.

The Meathmen laid down a very impressive marker in the strokeplay qualifying on Saturday when they lead home the field by six shots with a combined score of 292 from the four counting scorecards. Greenore came next on 298 with Dundalk on 301 and Skerries on 302 as the top four advanced to Sunday’s matchplay semi-finals.

Laytown booked their place in the final with a comfortable 4-1 win over Skerries but the other semi-final went right to wire. Eoin Murphy and Josh Mackin were both winners for Dundalk while Aaron Grant and Conor Curran both lost to leave it at 2-2 with Dundalk’s Neal MacKell one down with two to play. However, last year’s Junior Cup winner showed nerved of steel to win the two final holes in a dramatic finish and seal Dundalk’s place in the regional final.

Any hopes that home advantage would favour Dundalk in the final proved unfounded as the well prepared Laytown team took the first three matches to seal victory with Eoin Murphy losing 2&1while Conor Curran and Neal MacKell were both beaten by two holes having taken their matches to the 18th. Aaron Grant and Josh Mackin were both called in once the Layotwn secured their third point.

Caolan Rafferty and Brendan Lawlor both missed the weekend Senior Cup action as they were in Austria and Czech Republic respectively and posted top ten finished in their respective events.

Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 – AIG Senior Cup Regional Qualifier – Qualifying: 292 Laytown & Bettystown; 298 Greenore; 301 Dundalk; 302 Skerries; 304 Co Louth; 308 Ardee; 313 Balcarrick; 315 Balbriggan; 320 Rush; 322 Hollywood Lakes. CSS: 73. Semi-finals: Laytown & Bettystown bt Skerries 4/1; Dundalk bt Greenore 3/2. Final: Laytown & Bettystown bt Dundalk 4/1.

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