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.

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.  

Rogers prevails in tough conditions to win Professional’s Prize

Professional’s Prize 2020 Winner Eddie Rogers (left) receives
his prize from Club Professional Leslie Walker

Eddie Rogers produced a near flawless round in tough conditions to win Leslie Walker’s Professional Prize.

The popular four handicapper had only one blank on his way to carding a round of 39pts which included five three-point holes and three birdies.

It was enough to pip long-time leader Martin Cairns (17) who had set an early target of 38pts while Josh Mackin, who will shortly head to the USA on a golf scholarship, took the gross prize with an excellent score of 39pts which was enough to see him drop to an all-time low of plus two.

A total of 276 golfers teed it over the two days and the scoring reflected the test provided by a very long white course with slick greens.

They were the type of tough conditions that club stalwart Rogers has always embraced and after parring the first he birdied the second when, after a big drive, he left a sand wedge inches from the flag, which was tucked in behind the front right bunker, for a tap-in birdie and three points.

Pars at the third and the fifth and a two point bogey at the index one fourth added another six points to bring is total to 11pts after five holes.

He then hit a purple patch over the next three holes as he picked up nine points with a birdie on the sixth, a three point par on the index three seventh and another tap-in birdie on the  eighth when another fairway splitting drive was followed by a precision wedge to within inches of the flag.

Another two points from a par at the ninth gave him 22 points for his outward journey and in a position to strike for victory. Three more pars, included a three-pointer at the index two 11th, yielded another seven points to leave him on 29pts with six holes to go.

At that stage it was just a matter of getting home safely but disaster struck on the index 16 par three 13th. Rogers’ tee shot found a greenside bunker but he totally misread his par putt and left himself a slippery putt for bogey which he missed to record his first blank of the day.

However, he drew on his many years of experience and regained his composure quickly to rattle off four two point pars and a two point bogey on the index four 16th. That 10 point haul brought him to 39pts and that was enough to secure the 2020 Professional’s Prize.

Edmund Sheridan (14) shot 37pts to take the Veteran’s Prize on countback while Tom Dunne (10), Martin Byrne (13) and John McErlean (22) took the category prizes with Juvenile Captain Padraig Grennan (16) claiming the juvenile prize with a tremendous score of 42pts.

Despite the difficult conditions the competition managed to produce a hole-in-one when John Morrison recorded the first ace of his career as his tee shot with a six hybrid found the hole.

Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26 – Leslie Walker’s Professional’s Prize – Singles Stableford – Overall Winner: Eddie Rogers (4) 39pts, Second Place: Martin Cairns (17) 38/21pts. Gross Winner: Josh Mackin (+1) 39pts. Veteran’s Prize: Edmund Sheridan (14) 37/21/12/7pts. Cat 1 (<11): Tom Dunne (10) 38/20/14pts, Conor Murphy (7) 38/20pts, Vincent Conlon (9) 38pts. Cat 2 (12-17): Martin Byrne (13) 37/19pts, Patrick Dunne (16) 37pts, Michael Mc Dermott (16) 36/18/11pts. Cat 3 (18+):  John McErlean(22) 37/21pts, Seamus Kelly (18) 37/20pts, Hugh Reilly (22) 37pts. Juvenile Winner: Padraig Grennan (16) 42pts. Hole in One: John Morrison (13th). CSS: Saturday – 35pts, Sunday – 35pts.

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.

Top 20 finishes for Rafferty, Mackin and Murphy in Spain

There were Top 20 finishes for Caolan Rafferty, Josh Mackin and Eoin Murphy in the third round of the R & A Student Series last week at the Centro National de Golf in Madrid.

Making his first appearance in the Series, Rafferty shot a two under par 70 in the final round to finish third overall on two over after opening rounds of 75 and 73.

Mackin, who won the second round of the series in Carton House in September, had been lying third going into the final round after opening with a 76 and a 69 which was the joint best round of the week. However, he shot 80 in the final round and finished 11th overall.

Murphy shot round of 77, 75 and 75 to finish in 17th place overall which was two places better than his position in the second series.

The three Dundalk players were all representing Maynooth University in the tournament.

The leading players in the Series after the fourth event in Portugal will be invited to the Tour Series Final in Carnoustie and St Andrews next year.

Dundalk players in action at home and abroad

Dundalk players were in action at home and abroad over the last week with mixed fortunes.

Josh Mackin and Eoin Murphy finished fifth and sixth respectively at the Irish Intervarsity ChamDundalk pionship in St Anne’s.

Mackin finished four shots behind the winner, UCD’s Charlie Denvir, after rounds of 76, 70, 73 left him on six over while Murphy was a shot behind his Dundalk and Maynooth University teammate on seven over after rounds of 76, 73 and 71.

Caolan Rafferty was part of a six man Irish team that was beaten by one point by the Metropolitan Golf Association in the annual Carey Cup match which was played in Arcola Country Club in New Jersey last week.

On Day 1 he birdied the last hole in the fourball to earn himself and partner Conor Purcell a half and in the afternoon foursomes the same pairing were one up with eight to play but lost four consecutive holes from the 13th to birdie as their American opponents came from behind to win 3&2.

A similar fate befell Rafferty in the singles on Day 2 when he was beaten 6&4 by Thomas LaMorte. Rafferty was two up after four but then got blown away as the American fired in eight birdies over the next ten holes to win on the 14th.

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.

Walker Cup stars heading for Dundalk Scratch Cup

Walker Cup and Ireland stars Caolan Rafferty, James Sugrue and Conor Purcell will switch from being teammates to rivals this Sunday (September 15) when they tee it up at the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup at Dundalk Golf Club.
Last weekend the trio were part of the Great Britain & Ireland team in the Walker Cup at Hoylake before travelling to Lahinch to represent Ireland in the Home Internationals.
The presence of three players from the World’s top 60 is sure to attract big crowds to Dundalk for the 36 hole tournament which will have shotgun starts at 9am for Round 1 and 2pm for Round 2.
Rafferty is the defending champion and is bidding to win a third title in four years while Sugrue from Mallow is the Amateur champion and Portmarnock’s Purcell is the Australian Amateur champion.
The three Walker Cup players will start as favourites but there are plenty of players in the star studded field that will fancy their chances of lifting the famous trophy. Previous champions include the likes of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington while another former Walker Cup players, David Sheahan, was the first winner in 1963.
Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell won the event in 2017 while Co Louth’s Gerard Dunne set a new course record in last year’s second round and both will be expected to feature strongly as will another former winner, Gary Cullen, while current Boys’ internationals Max Kennedy and Dylan Keating will see this as their opportunity to make their senior breakthrough.
Rafferty will lead a strong home challenge into this year’s competition as members of the club’s senior panel will be battling to nail their places in next week’s All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final against Rosses Point in Westport. Over their home course, the challenge of Aaron Grant, Eoin Murphy, Josh Makin and Brendan Lawlor cannot be underestimated. 
The greenkeeping staff at Dundalk have been working hard over the last few weeks to have the course in top shape for Sunday and Dundalk Captain Pat Davis said everybody is looking forward to the event.
“We have a great field this year and are delighted that James Sugrue and Conor Purcell are able to play given their busy schedules. The course is in superb condition and we are expecting a lot of people to come out and take advantage of the opportunity to see some of our top amateur golfers in action,” he said.