Nolan plays key role in Galway’s Cup win

IN his earlier incarnation, Tom Nolan knew about the intensity of playing top level inter-county hurling at senior, U21 and minor levels.

But after taking the key role in Galway’s first victory in the Bulmers Irish Senior Cup at Enniscrone on Saturday, he was certain about one thing.

“Hurling is easier,” he sighed. “In hurling you have your teammates around you. But there is no game that isolates you like golf.”

It was all the tougher for Nolan in the anchor position as he had been heavily defeated in the semi-final by young Andrew Pitcher from the Island. However, he came out determined to atone for countless disappointments since he first experienced the demands of senior cup final golf at Westport in 1993.

He reckons: “We must have reached five or six semi-finals but this was my first final. I tried to hang up my clubs at the beginning of the year but they wouldn’t let me, so we’ll have to see about the future.”

Nolan, 44, and a member of Galway’s All-Ireland U21 winning team in 1983 and senior triumph in 1988, now has another distinguished medal to decorate his sideboard. And well he merits it having taken control of his match against the Knock youngster James Patterson by going one up at the 7th and playing well from there in to clinch the crucial point at the 15th.

Cavanman Eddie McCormack and David Scully, the youngest member of the Galway side at 33, had both earlier won four holes in succession around the turn to tilt the contest in their club’s favour and they also won on the 15th green.

The match ended in anti-climax for those in the clubhouse area when Galway’s Joe Lyons was just about to putt from 15 feet to level his clash with Michael Sinclair when a clubmate rushed on to the green to say the overall result had been determined.

So that game was declared a half and with Galway’s Stephen Keenan fighting back to be just one down with two to play against 15-year-old Colin Fairweather, the new holders of the Blue Ribband of Irish golf were declared champions on a 4-1 scoreline.

The one disappointment of the morning was the scourge of slow play that has bedeviled amateur golf.

To be fair, Enniscrone was swept by a strong wind but for the first match to take three hours and 55 minutes to reach the 14th green is inexcusable.

They were also celebrating in Rosslare after they captured their first green pennant since the 1940 Irish Junior Cup by scoring a nail biting 3-2 final win over Castleblayney. Rosslare won two matches on the 18th, another on the 17th and lost yet another on the 19th so it couldn’t have been closer.

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