Afternoon woes see Ireland lose opener to hosts

Ireland’s defence of the Sue Johnson Trophy faltered yesterday as they capitulated in the afternoon’s singles to lose 5½-2½ to England at the Senior Women’s Home Internationals in Huddersfield.

The Irish line-up was an exact replica of that which guided them to the title last year, with Cairndhu’s Laura Webb leading the team after being crowned 2014 Irish Senior Women’s Close champion.

The holders got off to a good start as they led 2-1 after yesterday morning’s foursomes, with the pairings of Carol Wickham and Sheena McElroy and Pat Doran and Helen Jones clinching 1-up and 5&3 victories, respectively.

The third pairing of Webb and Suzanne Corcoran went down in the last match 2&1 to Catherine Rawthore and Katherine Russell.

With the tie delicately poised, Ireland were in with every chance of kicking off their defence with a victory but slumped, as Pat Doran’s half point against Amanda Mayne was as good as it got for Ireland after lunch.

Wickham was never in her tie with Brown, as the Englishwoman won four of the first seven holes to romp her way to the first point of the afternoon with a 5&4 success.

Meanwhile, Webb fought back gallantly against Rawthore, overcoming an early three-hole deficit only to lose out on the final green.

McElroy also tasted defeat on the final hole after the Grange ace was pipped by Russell, while Gertie McMullen went down 3&2 to Debbie Richards.

Ireland will be hoping to keep the defence of the trophy alive today when they take on Wales, with the Welsh team looking for their second win of the tournament after defeating Scotland 4-3 in a thrilling encounter.

Meanwhile, former Naas ace Mike Kelly is well placed after the first round of the latest European Tour qualifying school first stage event in Frilford Heath, Oxford.

The Kildare man shot a level-par 72, but it could have been better for Kelly but for a double bogey on the 17th hampering his efforts.

Kelly is six shots off the lead, Mark Laskey of Wales heading the field after a superb six-under-par 66.

Meanwhile, former footballer Stephen Grant is four shots further back and will have some work to do today if he is to make the cut after a 76. The Heritage ace had a nightmare front nine, carding three bogeys and a double bogey as he reached the turn in 41, five over par.

Grant did pull one shot back on the back nine with a birdie at the 10th and eight straight pars to finish, ensuring he is still in with a chance of making progress in Oxfordshire.


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