Glory at last for Newcastle West

Newcastle West finally reached their destination after 74 years of trying yesterday when they lifted the Pierce Purcell Shield at Kinsale Golf Club.

Seventy-four years to the day since Newcastle West started trying to win an All-Ireland title, and 40 years after bidding for the Purcell, the Co. Limerick club won a national final at the first attempt when they overcame Connacht champions Gort 4-1 in the Chartis-sponsored decider. David Murphy and Eoin Duggan clinched it for Newcastle West, winning the bottom match 4&2, to spark emotional scenes at the presentation ceremony in the Kinsale clubhouse when team captain Michael O’Connor accepted the shield and club captain John Devine received the pennant.

“When we think about it this evening and over the next few weeks it will probably sink in,” O’Connor said. “It’s a great honour because they are the first team to ever do it for Newcastle West and I’m proud and honoured to be a part of the team, such a wonderful group of people.”

For Newcastle West golfer Liam Keane, it was not the All-Ireland medal he had imagined collecting. The closest he had come previously was a Munster football final near-miss with Limerick in 1991 against Kerry.

“I’ve an All-Ireland medal at last and it’s not something I ever envisaged having, in golf, but it’s a nice thing to have,” Keane said after he and Gerard Foley had beaten Pat Curtis and Kevin Mulkerrins 5&4.

“It’s a fantastic day for the club. We’re formed 75 years and it’s been a long time coming. We’re 40 years playing the Purcell and Bruen, the whole lot and this was our first Munster title this year, not alone an All-Ireland title, so it’s a fantastic place to be at the moment.

“It means everything. I was introduced to golf by my late father and there’s a lot of people he played golf with here today and the emotion from then was second to none, so I’m absolutely thrilled for them. It means a lot to us but for the members, there’s a couple here today Tim and Helen Roche, they’ve gone to every inter-club match Newcastle West have played for the past 35 years. So this means everything.”

While Keane celebrated, former Down captain Conor Deegan was closing in on another All-Ireland title, this time with Castle Golf Club, the Leinster Senior Cup champions who reached today’s final with 3½ to 1½ victory over 2007 champions Co. Sligo.

Deegan, 43, got his hands on Sam Maguire in 1991 and 1994 and yesterday, after helping the Dublin club overcome the Connacht pennant winners from Rosses Point, he was just as happy with his golfing success.

“Ecstatic, this is a huge thing for the club after 99 years to get to this point,” Deegan said, “now we’re hoping to go a stage further.”

Deegan had got Castle back on track after an opening, one-hole singles win for Co. Sligo’s Michael Durcan over James Hanby. Deegan won match two 2&1 over Gerard Finnegan and Castle won the next two matches to seal victory with a 2&1 win for Alex Gleeson over Co. Sligo’s Gary McDermott and one-hole win for Jack Walsh against Sean Flanagan, with Castle’s Daniel Holland halving the final match with Steffan O’Hara.

“I was very lucky in sport in some ways but this is so different,” Deegan said.

“As we all know, golf is different. But we have a great team ethos going, great atmosphere, eight lads pushing like hell for places.

“I’m still heavily involved in Gaelic, grew up playing it and really, up to about (age) 16, it was a toss up between the two sports, then I made a minor team and that made decision for me.

“Now it’s all about getting the job done, and, from experience, finals are an awful lot easier. You go for it and that can make it a bit freer. My experience would have been playing finals on a football pitch. I suppose the mindset will be very similar, another game, go out and you play it, you take the shots on and you trust in yourself. You trust your team-mates are going to do the same thing for you. I could be a father to every single one and that’s the fact, it’s great fun.”

Warrenpoint stand in the way of Castle and their first Senior Cup success as they bid to regain the title they last won in 2008. The Ulster champions saw off their Munster rivals Tramore in a very tight encounter yesterday that saw two matches go to the 19th hole. Shaun Coulter clinched it for Warrenpoint, holing from off the green at the first extra hole to beat Tramore’s Robin Dawson for a 3.5-1.5 win.

Also on the line on the final day of the national finals will be the Jimmy Bruen Shield, which will see Ulster champions Killymoon face Connacht’s Roscommon.

Killymoon defeated Munster representatives Goldcoast 3½-1½ while Roscommon edged past Leinster champions Waterford, 3-2.

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