Quinlan Portumna’s ace

PAT QUINLAN has suffered many disappointments in his 14 years representing Portumna in various inter-club competitions, so it was all the sweeter for the man from Ballinderry in North Tipperary that he should clinch their first Bulmers Irish Junior Cup triumph at Castlebar yesterday.

Portumna added the Junior Cup to the Irish Mixed Foursomes title they captured 12 months ago, when Quinlan also played a lead role. After father and son John and Sean Cleary both won, Quinlan made sure for the Co Galway club when he hit a tremendous four iron to ten feet at the difficult par three 16th to see off David Prendergast of Naas in the fifth and final match.

“This means an awful lot to me,” said Quinlan. “I was dropped for the Connacht final and while it came as a bit of a shock, it made me work harder and made me a better player.”

It was a disappointing outcome for Naas who, however, were more than a little pleased that Conor O’Hehir, who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow, went through his seventh straight match unbeaten in the competition. He is a son of noted horse racing on-course commentator Peter and a grandson of the legendary Michael.

It was also a red letter day for Dunmurry as they captured the Barton Shield with a fairly clear-cut win over Headfort. Brothers Darren and Stephen Crowe played crucial parts as the south Belfast club claimed their first national pennant. Darren partnered Paddy McGlone to a decisive five holes defeat of Joe Dillon and Greg Mungovan while Stephen and Glenn McAuley recovered from early arrears to stand all square with Rory McNamara and Brian Casey after 16 when they were called in.

While the Crowe brothers both play off plus two, McGlone and McAuley are scratch men. It was a particularly noteworthy achievement for McGlone, who played his first ever foursomes match in Wednesday’s semi-final against Bandon, having been drafted into the side when Noel Murray opted to try his luck at his week’s European Tour School.

Nenagh and Curragh qualified for this morning’s final of the Pierce Purcell Shield with contrasting semi-final wins over Lisburn and Co Sligo. Whereas a Curragh side including former Irish junior bantamweight boxing champion Tom Tobin easily accounted for Co Sligo, Nenagh had a tougher battle on their hands against Lisburn before getting home 3-2.

Nenagh are the holders of the Jimmy Bruen Shield and today will be chasing their fourth Pierce Purcell Shield. Tony Finan, Willie Harty and Pat Hogan were members of the last successful team in 1998, while another medallist, former Tipperary All-Ireland hurling star Noel O’Dwyer, has been drafted in for the decider. He and Paddy Peters replace father and son partnership John and David Hickey.

Today’s programme also includes the Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals in which Tandragee meet Swinford and Carrick-on-Suir take on Clontarf and the semi-finals of the Senior Cup. Brian O’Donovan and Ger Tobin, who were unavailable for the Barton Shield semi-finals on Wednesday, are included in the Bandon team against Co Sligo who will be without their playing captain David Dunne because of an eye infection. He is replaced by Stephen Brady as the Rosses Point club go in search of an eighth senior pennant. Serryth Heavey is still going strong having been a member of the teams that have won four Senior Cups and three Barton Shields.

Eddie Power, who in his Tramore days had the distinction of completing the Senior Cup-Barton Shield double at Killarney in 1992, is a key figure in the Kilkenny team up against Ulster champions Lurgan.

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