Galway blaze towards treble

GALWAY’S golfers are all set to atone for the defeat of their hurlers by Cork in Sunday’s All-Ireland final following a fruitful opening day in the Bulmers inter-club festival at Rosslare.

They have qualified for the finals of the Barton Shield and Junior Cup, are involved in the semi-finals of the Senior Cup tomorrow and so very much in line for an unprecedented treble.

Warrenpoint captured four titles at Clandeboye in 1987 but the Junior Cup was not among them.

Galway progressed to the final of the Barton Shield with a facile win over Ballybunion and now meet Warrenpoint, who defeated the holders Sutton in a much closer contest.

The final takes place this morning at 11am and will be followed by the Junior Cup decider at 11.30. Galway reached the final yesterday courtesy of a 19th green win for Joe Costello over Billy Hewitt in the decisive match.

Their final opposition comes from Fortwilliam, who edged through an equally tight contest against Castle.

Today’s programme also includes the semi-finals of the Pierce Purcell Shield involving Black Bush and Castleblayney and Castletroy and Portumna.

The semi-finals of the Barton Shield could hardly have been more contrasting. Whereas Galway had 11 holes to spare over Ballybunion, it wasn’t until the second match had reached the final tee that Warrenpoint clinched their place in the decider.

Whatever hope Ballybunion entertained of disrupting Galway’s march came to an end when John Neary and Eddie McCormack birdied the 11th and 12th and eagled the 13th to escape the gritty clutches of Eoin O’Connor and Hannes Boch.

They wound up with a six hole advantage while Joe Lyons and Mark O’Sullivan were five ahead of JD Guiney and Peter Sheehan when they were called in.

These are heady times in the history of the Warrenpoint club. Up to recently they were in danger of losing their course altogether, with only nine years remaining on the lease and with the owners of the Hall Estate unwilling to renew.

However, the day was saved when the members each agreed to contribute £4,500 towards meeting the £4.2 million it would cost to buy the property outright. That deal has only just been sealed and now they are turning their attentions to winning the foursomes inter-club championship of Ireland for the fourth time.

Their key man is Jim Carvill, who only returned to the amateur game after 14 relatively unprofitable years as a professional at the beginning of the season and went on to win both the East and South of Ireland Championships during the summer.

It was a desperately close affair with Sutton until the short 14th was won by both Warrenpoint pairs, 17-year-old Paul Reavey and Barrie Trainor in the top match against Mark Collins and Seamus McMonagle and Carvill and Colm Campbell in their clash with Alan Darbey and Sean Doherty. Those gains gave Warrenpoint the breathing space they needed and they held on well to clinch a two hole victory.

Billy Hewitt, whose heroics had played a major part in ensuring Clonmel’s appearance in the closing stages of the Junior Cup for the second time in three years, was on he receiving end on this occasion. Whereas he had won a crucial point at the 19th in the provincial final, he lost this time at the first extra hole against Joe Costello with the sides level at 2-2. Both missed the green at the right hand dogleg 19th but whereas the

Galwegian executed a magnificent 30 yard chip to within a foot of the hole, Hewitt saw his ball run six yards past and he missed the return.

Earlier, Jonathan Hehir and Gary Scott had also won for Galway and Billy McEvoy and Brian McLean kept Clonmel in touch.

Fortwilliam found it equally difficult in their semi-final meeting with Castle. The northern side had clear-cut wins from Conan McLarnan and Michael Tierney but these were offset when James Hanby and Stephen Webster levelled matters for the Dublin club.

This left the outcome dependant on the Gary O’Hara-Omar Bhamjee game which arrived on the 18th all square. And it ended in grief for Castle when Bhamjee, a Dublin-based accountant and a son of the former Clare TD, hooked his drive out of bounds on the 18th.

O’Hara, whose father, Peter, was president of the GUI in 1997, wisely played the hole carefully for a par five and a one hole win.

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