In a match that produced top-quality golf, Ballinrobe emerged triumphant by 3½ to 1½, with the winning point coming from John O’Shea and Pat Nalty at the final hole. And, in a touch of irony, it was Currow native O’Shea, donning the Ballinrobe colours, who produced a magnificent 70-yard pitch that ended it all - the stroke was so good that his partner was not asked to putt.
The Kerry team’s only winners were “seniors” Michael O’Brien and Dominic Foley, while Liam Hussey and Brian Lennon playing in the final match were all-square with their opponents when called in with three holes remaining.
In the other matches, Tralee conceded too much ground early on, especially in the stretch from the fourth to the 10th, and a top-class Ballinrobe team gave them no chance to recover.
Celebration time for Lucan, also, as they won the Irish Junior Cup for the first time in their 107-year history. Mark Clifford and Emmet Condron set them on the way with wins over Portstewart’s Andy Stewart and Dan Henry, respectively, and the clincher came from Martin O’Toole who staged a grandstand finish to beat Paul Cutler at the last. Fifteen-year-old Cutler, whose win at the 19th on the previous day against Galway earned the Ulster champions their final ticket, seemed set to deliver again, being two up playing the 16th.
However, O’Toole birdied this hole, won the next in par before finishing on a glorious note with a magnificent birdie at the 507-metre par five 18th. Here he unleashed a super drive, followed by a majestic five-iron to within 30 feet of the flag and two putts later the cup was on its way to south Dublin.
Tramore, splendidly led from the number one spot by former international Michael Burns, booked their place in today’s Bulmers-sponsored Irish Senior Cup final. A key figure in the club’s last victory in 1992, Burns duly closed out Mark King by four and three.
There were impressive performances also from John Mitchell and Peter Power, but Clancy Bowe was surprisingly held to a halved match by the promising Connacht inter-provincial player Barry Donoghue, no mean performer himself, as he gained six points from as many starts in the recent boys’ inter-pro series.
Tramore’s opponents today will be Ballyclare of Antrim, who avenged Wednesday’s Barton Shield Final defeat by Sutton. John Foster, the 30-times capped international, soon to take up an assistant professional position at the Malone Club, led from the top and Robert Forsythe and Simon McConnell gained the other important points.
No shortage of drama as Kilkeel advanced to meet Dundalk in the Jimmy Bruen Shield, with the outcome in both semi-finals going to the wire.
Kilkeel, with former Down All-Ireland medal winner (1991-1994) Paul Higgins playing a starring role, got through with a brace of wins at the 18th and 19th, while Dundalk also did it the hard way in a titanic clash with Charleville.
Here the sides were level at two matches each and the outcome depended on the Alan McCabe/Michael Gill confrontation with Charleville’s Danny Deady and Mike Galligan. The Cork pair led by one after 14 but Dundalk struck a mighty blow by taking the 16th.
Galligan, the former Limerick hurling star, sank a raker to keep his team level at the 17th, but both pairs then found greenside bunkers after three shots to the final hole, but it was Dundalk who recovered best with McCabe sinking a character testing two-footer to gain a place in today’s final.
Junior Cup Final
Lucan 4 Portstewart 1 (Lucan names first)
Mark Clifford bt Andrew Stewart 2/1; Martin O’Toole bt Paul Cutler 1 hole; Christy Fitzgerald halved with Niall McGahon; Emmet Condron bt Dan Henry 5/4; Alan Madden halved with Shane McCotter
Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals
Kilkeel 4 Portumna 1 (Kilkeel names first)
Rory Sloane & Kieran Poland bt Pat Quinlan & James Porter 6/5; Pascal Morgan & Johnny Aiken lost to Leslie O'Meara & Francis McClearn 2 holes; Anthony Ward & Ciaran Hartigan bt Joe Slattery & Dick Quinlivan 5/4; Trevor Weir & Graeme Morrow bt Matt Donohoe & Peadar Ryan 19th; Mark Trainor & Paul Higgins bt Michael McGivern & Sean Robinson 1 hole.
Dundalk 3 Charleville 2 (Dundalk names first)
Ken Norton & Michael Coburn bt James Browne & Declan Mooney 4/3 ; Sean Reidy & Kevin Barry bt Sean McSweeney & Bill Hanley 2/1; Alan McCabe & Michael Gill bt Danny Deady & Mike Galligan 1 hole; Damien English & Ruairi Gogarty lost to Tom Allen & John Kavanagh 2/1; Jim Dwyer & Maurice Murphy Anthony Fitzgerald & Eddie Barry 5/3.
Pierce Purcell Shield final
Ballinrobe 3.5 Tralee 1.5(Ballinrobe names first)
John Canty & Pat Malone bt Peter O'Driscoll & Maurice Laide 4/2; Pat Coyne & Noel Browne bt Sean Reidy & Patrick Curran 5/3; John O'Shea & Pat Nalty bt Michael Halloran & Richard Barrett 2 holes; Dave Fleming & Monty Heneghan lost to Michael O'Brien & Dominic Foley 5/4; Ray Darcy & John Joyce halved with Liam Hussey & Brian Lennon
Senior Cup semi-finals
Tramore 3.5 Athenry 1.5(Tramore names first)
Michael Burns bt Mark King 3/1; Clancy Bowe halved with Barry Donoghue; Derek Burns lost to Michael Mulryan 2/1; John Mitchell bt Conor Waters 2/1; Peter Power bt Michael Lane 4/3.
Ballyclare 3.5 Sutton 1.5 (Sutton names first)
John Foster bt Paul Byrne 4/3; Robert Forsythe bt Mark Collins 3/2; Steven Rea lost to Derek Downie 5/3; Simon McConnell bt Seamus McMonagle 2/1; Colin Steele halved with Alan Darbey.
9.30: Senior Cup
Tramore v Ballyclare (Tramore names first)
Michael Burns v John Foster; Clancy Bowe v Robert Forsythe; Derek Burns v Steven Rea; John Mitchell v Simon McConnell; Peter Power v Colin Steele
10.30: Jimmy Bruen Shield final
Kilkeel v Dundalk (Kilkeel names first)
Rory Sloane & Kieran Poland v Ken Norton & Michael Coburn; Johnny Aiken & Pascal Morgan v Sean Reidy & Kevin Barry; Anthony Ward & Ciaran Hartigan v Alan McCabe & Michael Gill; Trevor Weir & Graeme Morrow v Damien English & Ruairi Gogarty; Paul Higgins & Mark Trainor v Gareth Duffy & Michael Hamilton.