Justice for Skerries and glory for Gort

21-YEAR-OLD Mark Justice emerged as the hero for Skerries when they captured their first green pennant by defeating Clonmel in a thrilling Bulmers Irish Junior Cup final at Lisburn yesterday.

And it was glory time, too, for Gort who fought a mighty battle with Royal Tara before clinching the Pierce Purcell Shield at the second tie hole in the decisive match.

Justice, who now plays off a handicap of 3 having won the Skerries monthly medal last weekend with a gross 69, came into the match with form very much on his side. He had to produce some great golf to get the better of a doughty opponent in the former Waterford footballer Billy Hewitt and didn't finally get through until his opponent made a ghastly error on the 18th.

Justice birdied the 9th to level the match at which stage he was only one over par, an accurate indication of the quality of the golf.

The back nine, if anything, was even better. Not a single hole was halved, yet there was never more than one between them. Justice was one up after 14 but Hewitt hit two beautiful shots to twelve feet at 15 and holed for a birdie to draw level.

Skerries were back in front after 16 only to see the unorthodox Hewitt who plays every shot with the left hand below the right chip dead from well off the 17th green to stand on the 18th tee all square with the entire outcome depending on the result.

Both men found sand off the tee at the par three 18th.

Whereas Justice came out reasonably well from the front trap, Hewitt had the misfortune to shank his recovery to the right and back of the green. He was unable to put his third on the green and having missed for four was forced to concede hole and match.

Skerries, of course, were delighted at clinching their first national triumph but it was a shame that it finished with such an anti-climax.

Hewitt had been a key figure in the Clonmel march to the final and was deployed as anchorman yesterday having topped the order in the semi-finals. He was only two over par for the first 17 holes of yesterday's contest.

Full marks, however, to Mark Justice who unhesitatingly availed of the assistance of his caddy, Frank Gannon, a notable championship golfer for many years and a former Leinster inter-provincial.

Gannon was glowing in his praise of Justice and commented: "I have played or caddied in senior and junior cup matches, Barton Shield and inter-pros and I have never met anyone who listened to everything he is told and took in every bit of advice."

Niall O'Reilly, 18 this week, came from one down with three play to win for Clonmel at number one against Kingsley Lewis while Pat Johnson maintained his unbeaten record throughout the campaign when he won on the 17th against Alec Dignam.

However, 16 year-old Gavin Smyth went down at the 16th against David Murray and Billy McEvoy was beaten at the 17th by David Garrigan.

Meanwhile Royal Tara looked a good bet for the Pierce Purcell Shield when Michael Moran and Allen Foley came to the 18th one up on Kevin Mulkerrins and Noel Murphy of Gort at a time when both teams had taken two matches each.

But Murphy sank a fifteen footer for par and he and Mulkerrins eventually took the spoils when Royal Tara pair took three putts from just off the 20th green.

Castle romped into the final of the Jimmy Bruen Shield at the expense of Portumna but the 4-1 scoreline in favour of Greenisland over Shannon doesn't reflect how actually close it was.

Greenisland won the top match at the 19th and the second at the 18th but will clearly be hard pressed to cope with what looks a very useful Castle outfit in this morning's final.

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