Barton Shield run comes to an end

Dundalk’s provincial dominance of the Barton Shield, which yielded Leinster titles in 2018 and 2019, came to an end last Wednesday when the team lost to Greenore.

Caolan Rafferty and Eoin Murphy won their match but Aaron Grant and Josh Mackin were beaten as Greenore won the tie by three holes. 

The Fred Daly team got their campaign off to a winning start with a 3-2 win over Laytown & Bettystown. Zak Alderdice, Chris Clarke and Conal Mullin were the Dundalk winners with Conor Murphy going down 3&2 and Joseph Laverty losing on the 19th after forcing his match to sudden death having been three down with three to play.

In the Pierce Purcell Dundalk beat Ardee 3.5 to 1.5 despite having to play three of the matches away from home. In Dundalk Tommy Reneghan and Denis Cunningham recovered from being three down after nine to win 2&1 while Larry Soraghan and Paul Cheshire also won 2&1. In Ardee, John McKeever and Sean Quigley were beaten 5&4 but Cathal Muckian and Michael McDermott won by two holes to secure the third and winning point with Dessie Ward and Ken Lynch three up with three to play when they were called in.

Dundalk lose in Barton Shield All-Ireland semi-final

Dundalk Golf Club’s latest bid to win its first national senior title ended in disappointment last Friday morning when they were beaten by Co Sligo Golf Club in the semi-finals of the AIG Barton Shield in Westport.

Having lost in last year’s All-Ireland Final to Athenry, Dundalk travelled to the Co Mayo venue hoping to go one better after winning back to back Leinster titles in July when they beat The Island in the provincial decider at Royal Tara.

They went into the last four as second favourites behind Warrenpoint, who were bidding for their third Barton Shield title in four years, but, like Dundalk, they too fell at the semi-final stage.

Dundalk managers Alan McCabe and John Conlon went with the same pairings that had delivered both provincial titles with Aaron Grant and Josh Mackin up against Ruairi O’Connor and Thomas Finnegan in the top match while Caolan Rafferty and Eoin Murphy faced brothers TJ and Daniel Ford in the other.

Right from the beginning it was obvious that Dundalk were in trouble as they found themselves behind in both matches and never managed to get their noses in front in either of them after that.

After six holes Dundalk were three down in the top match and one down in the bottom match and by the turn Grant and Mackin were four down while Rafferty and Murphy were still one behind.

That meant Dundalk were five holes behind with 18 to play and while Rafferty and Murphy managed to get it back to all square by the 12th, up ahead of them it was looking ominous as Grant and Mackin were five down with six to play in their match.

It was all over a few holes later as Dundalk ran out of holes with Grant and Mackin seven down with two play while Rafferty and Murphy were all square with three to play.

“It was disappointing not to perform the way we know we can but these things happen in sport and all we can do is pick ourselves up and get ready to have another shot at it next year,” said joint manager John Conlon.

“We still managed to retain our Leinster title this year which is a fair achievement but the lads really wanted to bring home a green one and they are gutted they didn’t do that especially for the large group of supporters who travelled to Mayo for the All-Ireland Finals.”

In the final on Friday afternoon it was Co Sligo’s turn to be on the end of a seven hole defeat as they lost to Limerick.

Dundalk retains Leinster Barton Shield pennant

Our Senior Panel have retained the Leinster Barton Shield and booked their place in the All-Ireland semi-final in Westport at the end of September.

Last Saturday at Royal Tara Golf Club, Dundalk beat Woodbrook in the provincial semi-final in the morning before defeating The Island in the final to win a second successive senior pennant.

“Last year was the first time since the Club was founded in 1905 that we won a senior pennant so to have gone out this year and retained it is very special and a great achievement by the lads,” said John Conlon who jointly manages the team with Alan McCabe.

“But it is only a step towards our ultimate goal this year which is to win the All-Ireland title. We were very disappointed to lose in last year’s final and our whole focus this year has been on getting back to the national final and bringing a green pennant back to Dundalk.”

The Barton Shield is a competition for elite players with two two-man pairings playing, off scratch, in a foursomes matchplay format and the match being decided by the aggregate number of holes won.

Dundalk got a massive boost on the eve of the Leinster finals when Caolan Rafferty announced he was available to play after being knocked out in the second round of the South of Ireland Championship on Friday evening.

“We were planning without Caolan because he was the defending champion in the South of Ireland and we were all hoping that he would be in the mix over the weekend,” said Conlon. “It is testament to the type of person he is that immediately after losing on the 20th hole of his second round match, he got into his car and phoned to say he was on his way back and would be in Navan in the morning.”

Quite how Woodbrook felt when the plus six handicapper, who has been named on the 14 man panel from which the ten players to represent Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup will be picked, teed it up isn’t known, but after winning the first hole they must have felt they were going to benefit from a post-Lahinch hangover.

It proved to be a short-lived feeling because on the second hole Rafferty fired an approach shot to 15 feet and his partner Eoin Murphy sank the birdie putt to bring the match back to all-square.

At the next hole, the Dundalk pairing went one up after Woodbrook put their third shot in the bushes behind the green and stretched their lead to two holes on the par four sixth when Murphy drove around the dog-leg to within 10 yards of the front of the green and Rafferty chipped in for an eagle two.

Although they lost the seventh they turned for home three up after winning the eighth and ninth with birdies. They lost the tenth but restored their three shot advantage on the 12th.

It was clear at this stage that this match was going to decide who would advance to the final because up ahead Josh Mackin and Brendan Lawlor were heading for defeat after a frustrating morning on the greens.

After losing the first hole, they got back to all square by winning the third in par. However, they lost the fourth, sixth and seventh to fall three holes behind by the turn. The Dundalk pairing did rally on the back nine by winning the tenth and 13th to reduce the deficit to one hole but then lost the 14th to birdie and the 15th to par to find themselves three behind again with just three holes to go.

By this point it was a case of limit the damage and hope Rafferty and Murphy in the match behind could win by more than they lost. The youngsters dug deep to win the par five 18th where Mackin found the fairway, Lawlor drilled a two iron 260 yards to off the back of the green, Mackin chipped on to three feet and Lawlor sank the birdie putt.

As that putt dropped, Murphy was pitching in to 10 feet on the 17th and when Woodbrook missed their birdie putt from 30 feet, Rafferty lagged his putt to the edge of the hole and Dundalk’s place in the afternoon final was secured.

The other semi-final between The Island and Palmerstown House went to 19th Hole, giving the Dundalk players some extra time to recover before the final. The managers made one change for the afternoon with the experienced Aaron Grant coming in for debutant Brendan Lawlor as Josh Mackin’s partner in the top match.

“It was great to give Brendan his Barton Shield debut and let him get some very valuable playing time. His approach shot and putt on 18 were crucial to the win in the morning and being able to bring in a fresh and experienced Aaron Grant in the afternoon was a big boost,” said Conlon.

After halving the first three holes of their match against Jonathon Quinn and Rhys Clarke, Grant and Mackin got their noses in front by winning the fourth with a birdie. They extended their lead to two holes by winning the ninth with a birdie but then bogeyed the par three 13th to go back to one up.

Behind them, things didn’t start so well as Rafferty and Murphy lost the first two holes to birdies from Fergal Kennedy and Jack Blake, but they won the third and brought the match back to all square on the seventh when Murphy holed a testy left to right breaking putt following a sublime chip from Rafferty from the back of the green.

A superb tee shot from Rafferty on the par three 11th to six feet set up Murphy for a birdie that put the Dundalk pairing in front for the first time and they followed that up with birdies on the next two holes as Murphy drained putts from 20 and 15 feet respectively to go three up with five to play.

The next three holes were halved and as the two Dundalk pairings went down the 17th they were lying four up overall with four to play. It all ended when Aaron Grant cooly sank a six foot putt to win the 17th in his match and seal a five hole victory for the defending champions.

“The Club is extremely proud of our Senior Panel who have worked very hard over the last number of years to become Leinster champions,” said Dundalk Club Captain Pat Davis.

“It was a massive breakthough last year to win our first senior pennant and reach the All-Ireland Final and to retain it is a tremendous achievement. I would like to congratulate the managers, the players, the caddies and our club professional Leslie Walker for a job well done and we are all looking forward to going to Westport in September and having another shot at winning the national title.”

Senior panel reach Barton Shield semi-final

Dundalk Golf Club are through to the Leinster semi-finals of the Barton Shield after beating Carton House in the last eight at Seapoint on Saturday.

Last year Dundalk won the Leinster title to claim the club’s first ever senior pennant but lost out on the national crown when they were beaten by Athenry in the All-Ireland Final.

Caolan Rafferty took time out from his preparations for this week’s R&A Amateur Championship in Portmarnock to make himself available for the tie and he partnered Eoin Murphy in what turned out be a very close encounter.

The Dundalk pairing took a one hole lead twice after the third and 10th holes but were pulled back on both occasions to all square by Carton House birdies at the sixth and 11th.

Carton House finally got their noses in front on 14 when the Dundalk pairing recorded their only bogey of the day but they bounced back immediately with a birdie at the next hole, the par three 15th, to get back to all-square and it stayed that way until they were called in.

In the other match Aaron Grant and Josh Mackin were always in control having taken the lead with a birdie on the second hole. They stretched that lead to three holes by winning the fourth and fifth holes with pars before Mackin drained a 20 foot on the par five sixth for eagle and a four hole lead.

A bogey at the par five eighth saw them lose a hole but they won the ninth with another birdie to turn with a four hole lead which then stretched to five with a win on the 11th. Carton House did win 12 and 14 to pull the Dundalk lead back to three but a win on 16 restored the four hole advantage with two to play.

Dundalk will now face the winners of the quarter-final between Corrstown and Woodbrook on Saturday, July 27 at 7.30am in Royal Tara with the final due to take place at 1pm the same day. ENDS

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

 

 

Another great week for Rafferty at North of Ireland Championship

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty’s super season continued last week in the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.

He won the silver medal for leading qualifier and then battled through four rounds of matchplay before losing in the semi-final to Irish international Colin Fairweather from Knock Golf Club.

The 24-year-old carded a bogey free, course record 65, on the newly redesigned Dunluce Links to lead home a field of 300, of whom 120 were plus handicappers, in the qualifying round.

He had posted a 68 in the first round over The Valley course and finished on 10 under par. Rafferty’s record round included birdies at the second and ninth and then he started his back nine with three birdies in a row before birding 15 and 17 and signing for a 65.

It was a second course record for Rafferty in less than a month as he also set a new low score at The Prince’s in England on his way to taking the silver medal for leading qualifier at the British Amateur.

That earned him promotion to the Irish international squad and his current run of form leaves him very much in the frame for a call-up for the upcoming Home Internationals.

Rafferty reached the semi-finals of the North back in 2015 and his march to the penultimate stage this year began with a 3&2 victory over Stackstown’s John McCarthy before a convincing win over Dungannon’s Dwayne Mallon in the second round.

Rafferty got a scare in the last 16 when he was taken to the 19th by Tandragee’s Ross Dutton before finally squeezing through. He bounced back from that in the quarter-final against Portmarnock’s Darragh Coghlan with a 4&2 victory.

That earned him a place in Friday morning’s semi-final against Knock’s Colin Fairweather and, cheered on by a sizeable contingent of supporters from Dundalk, he recovered back from an early setback to lead at the turn.

However, a bad bounce on the 12th, where he had played a glorious approach shot, saw momentum shift in favour of the Ulster golfer but Rafferty hung in and got back to level after 16.

He had an opportunity on 17 to go ahead but his biride putt shaved the hole and Fairweather then played a superb approach at the 18th to four feet to win and advance to the final where he lost to Hermitage’s Rowan Lester.

Rafferty next mission is to help Dundalk in this week’s Barton Shield Leinster Finals at Kilkenny before he heads to Lahinch and the South of Ireland Championship.