Nenagh and Douglas survive tough tests to seal provincial titles

ALL the drama and excitement associated with the Bulmers Irish Cups and Shields came very much to the fore at Kenmare Golf Club when Nenagh and Douglas qualified for the national finals of the Jimmy Bruen and Pierce Purcell Shields.

Nenagh, the Irish champions in 1997, captured their third provincial pennant after beating Fota Island in the semi-final and Tramore in the decider of the Bruen. Paddy Heffernan, a co-selector of the team along with Seamus Hogan, admitted they were “very lucky” to get the better of Fota in a thrilling encounter.

Indeed, it seemed set up to be a victory for the Cork side when Nenagh’s Jim Griffin and Michael Corrigan were one down playing the 18th and had to take a penalty drop after driving into trees with the overall match tied at two each. But Griffin then came up with a remarkable recovery shot and when Fota three putted, the match went into extra holes and Nenagh duly got home at the 19th.

They went on to take full advantage of their good fortune when accounting for Tramore in the final. This was another close encounter which ended in Nenagh’s favour when Matt O’Gara and Cian Heffernan (a son of Paddy) claimed the crucial point. Seamus Hogan, a midfield star in the Tipperary side that won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship in 1971, is a member of the Nenagh side and also still going strong is Paddy Kennedy, a key man in the team that captured the Bruen Shield in ‘97.

Douglas joined Nenagh in the national finals to be played at Tullamore Golf Club in September when they came through in the Pierce Purcell Shield. However, if they imagined it was going to be an armchair ride after a comfortable semi-final win over Shannon, they were disillusioned when the final against Ceann Sibéal developed into a cliff hanger.

The teams were level with two matches each but the Kerry club held a one-hole advantage coming down the 18th in the crucial fifth game. Brian Kenneally and John Ryan produced a priceless par to bring the match down the 19th which they again played superbly to win hole and match with another fine regulation.

“This was our first Pierce Purcell Shield pennant in 33 years and now we are looking forward to bringing home the Irish title for the first time,” said captain Mark O’Sullivan.

The Douglas team composed of Richard Lonergan and Kevin O’Sullivan; Eddie Cogan and Frank Walsh jr; Brian Kennedy and John Ryan; Tony Barry and Andrew Herbert; and Emmett Martin and Philip O’Driscoll. The other members of the panel are Leonard Horgan and John Mackey; and Kevin O’Sullivan and Michael Lucey.

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