The Meath course had already served Ballybunion well with their Junior Cup win on Thursday and on a day when Munster’s interest in the Senior Cup ended with Cork Golf Club’s narrow 3-2 defeat to Co. Sligo, Spanish Point brought a second title of the week south with a 4-1 defeat of Connacht champions Claremorris.
It was not just a victory for the province but for small clubs everywhere, as team member Evan Talty explained.
“Spanish Point is a tiny club with a very small membership,” former Clare senior footballer Talty said.
“There’s only about 20 or 30 players who play there on a weekly basis so for us to come and do this is a fantastic achievement. We’ve put in massive work for this. At the end of the day you get out what you put into it, and we put a lot of hard work into it.”
For Talty, who partnered Mervin Hehir to a half-point in their match with Declan Lambe and David Rattigan, it was a happy end to a week that had started with bitter sporting disappointment for the Kilmurry-Ibrickane man.
“We got beaten in the Clare football championship on Sunday [by Éire Óg]. I played in that and came up here. So from being on a low, I’ve gone on a high, so it’s good compensation.
“We played in the All-Ireland club final a couple of years ago and walking out on Croke Park is not a patch on the nerves you have on the first tee here.
“I always say, in football you have 14 other lads to hold you up, whereas I’ve only Mervin here. He probably has a pain in his back from carrying me!”
Hehir’s brothers Micheal and Fergal teamed up to win their match 4&3 while Evan Talty’s cousin Michael Talty and Stephen Guilfoyle won their contest 5&3, with Anthony Garrihy and Aidan Sexton having opened the match with a 4&2 victory. There was also a half-point to the tally from Conor O’Loughlin and Kevin Hynes.
Cork’s involvement in the semi-finals of the blue riband event, the Senior Cup, went right to the wire as John Hickey lost the last of the five singles matches to Steffan O’Hara on the final hole.
Gary O’Flaherty and Eoghan Murphy had won their matches 4&3 and 5&4 respectively over Sean Flanagan and Mark Morrissey, with Sligo’s Gary McDermott defeating Mark Ford 1-up to keep the Rosses Point men in the picture.
Both clubs had entered the week seeking a Barton Shield-Senior Cup double but Cork’s hopes of success in the former foursomes competition had foundered on day one with a semi-final loss to Ulster champions Clandeboye, who then beat Sligo in the final.
Pitted against one another in the Senior Cup semis, with the tie poised at 2-1 to Cork, the tide turned with the opening match, between Sligo’s Declan Reidy and Little Island’s Ian O’Flynn. The Corkman was 2-up with four to play before Reidy, an inter-county Sligo hurling goalkeeper, rallied with some nerveless golf, winning the 15th hole with a par when O’Flynn left his five-foot putt on the lip. Both then lipped out for a half on the 16th before Reidy won the 17th, again with a par, as O’Flynn failed to get up and down from the front of the green.
“I was a bit shaky at the start, the two of us had a few fun holes. We had a few birdies left, right and centre. Par golf though, is the key around here. At the 18th, he pushed his tee shot right, hit the trees and came back out. I matched him shot for shot and got down for par.”
Co. Sligo now head into today’s final against Ulster champions Rosapenna, whose semi-final victory took even the Donegal club by surprise — they had not even booked rooms for last night in anticipation of a final appearance.
Fortunately for Frank Casey Jr and his team help was at hand from the team they knocked out, Leinster champions Carton House, whose owner offered the victors six rooms for the night.