The men from Rosses Point, who tomorrow will begin their quest for the blue riband Senior Cup, beat Leinster champions Rosslare in yesterday’s semi-final of the foursomes competition, winning by an aggregate of three holes from the two pairings contested.
Co. Sligo will today face Ulster champions Clandeboye, who scored a seven-hole victory over Cork Golf Club at the parkland Meath course. It is the Connachtmen, however, who will go into the final as favourites for the Barton Shield as they seek to repeat their national double victories of 1996 and 1997, respectively, and become the first club since Shandon Park in 2000 to achieve the feat.
“Big expectations all right,” County Sligo captain Garth McManus said following a contest with Rosslare which saw Sean Flanagan and Declan Reidy’s three-hole victory over Gary Collins and Ian Lynch decide the match with team-mates Gary McDermott and Steffan O’Hara halving their rubber with Mark Mullen and Tony O’Leary.
“We started very well, and the lads dug deep and we got through in the end. But it’s a long week for us and we have high expectations of ourselves. We hope to have a good week.
“There’s always talk (of a double) in the club, it’s more to try and generate support. We’re just here to win. If we win, we win, and we’ll take the double if we get it. We’ll take any pendant we can get.”
McManus paid tribute to his quartet of players, each pairing backboned by seasoned campaigners Flanagan and McDermott.
“We’ve three good Connacht interprovincials and then we’ve young Declan Reidy who broke through this year. He had a very steady day today and we’re very happy with him.
“Declan is 18. He went from two to scratch in the last six to eight weeks. He’s in form. It’s his first breakthrough and it’s a step up for him.
“Sean’s very young but very experienced. We don’t look on him as a young man. He’s a top guy so we don’t have to worry about him. We’re very happy with him.
“Gary and Steffan have played foursomes for Connacht for many years. They do what they do and we let them handle it.”
Clandeboye will provide another stiff challenge for Co. Sligo having ended Cork’s own Barton Shield-Senior Cup double hopes yesterday.
Like the victory for the Rosses Point club, the men from Co. Down saw one of their matches halved, Graeme Laird and Lee Crawford finishing all square with Mark Ford and Ian O’Flynn only for Colm Murphy and William Russell to run out comprehensive seven-hole victors over Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty and John Hickey.
Munster will have some representation in today’s finals as Ballybunion take on Connacht champions Westport in the Junior Cup final.
The Kerrymen saw off Leinster’s Laytown & Bettystown by 3.5 to 1.5 after five singles contests while Westport beat Slieve Russell by the same scoreline.