Muskerry’s shot at redemption

Muskerry Golf Club have the chance to bury their demons of three years ago when their quartet bids for an All-Ireland title in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House today.

Muskerry’s shot at redemption

The Munster foursome champions, captained by Greg O’Sullivan, feature four of the quintet that came up short at Castlerock in 2011, when they were beaten by Portmarnock in the Senior Cup semi-final.

If there were any hangover from that dark day, when the weather as well as the Leinster champions conspired against them on the north coast, it was surely salved on Carton’s O’Meara course yesterday as the pairings of Niall Gorey and Dave O’Donovan and John Waldron and Daniel Hallissey trounced Athenry by 10 holes to set up today’s Barton Shield final with the Ulster champions Warrenpoint.

Athenry had been on the back foot before play commenced when Martin Hynes was forced to withdraw from the opening foursomes against O’Donovan and Gorey due to an eye injury.

Yet Muskerry were men on a mission, winning both matches by five holes apiece, to the delight and surprise of captain O’Sullivan.

“A semi-final is a situation where you are a bit caught,” the Muskerry skipper said. “You’re there, but you’re still not there. But they played very, very solidly and the experience of Castlerock has stood to them and the fact that they’re together for the last couple of years, the bond is there and they don’t really panic.”

Muskerry will today be chasing their first Barton Shield success since 1953, but O’Sullivan is reading nothing into the margin of their semi-final victory over Athenry.

“We're looking forward to the final now, it’s 50-50 and that’s it,” he said.

While Muskerry breezed to their victory, Warrenpoint’s progress was distinctly different as they overcame Royal Dublin thanks to some 20th hole putting heroics from Ryan Gribben.

With Warrenpoint’s leading pairing of William Hanna and Stephen Coulter beating Richard Knightly and Sean Ryan by two holes in the opening match with Royal Dublin, Gribben and playing partner Colm Campbell had seen their team-mates win just ahead of them at the 18th, and knew they could afford to lose by one hole in their rubber with Barry Anderson and Ian O’Rourke.

Yet they added a third bogey in a row at the last regulation hole to send their match to extra holes with Warrenpoint trailing by two holes, the overall match tied under Barton Shield rules.

“My dad (Colm Campbell senior), the team captain, just said to us, ‘you start again, you’re still in it, keep your heads up’ and then we made a good half on the first (19th),” reigning East of Ireland champion Campbell said.

On the par three 20th, both Royal Dublin and Warrenpoint were short of the green but the Ulster men were closer with their pitch on, and when the Dubliners failed to hole their putt, Gribben had a chance to win the match and seal a place in the final with a left-to right putt that was beautifully judged.

Gribben and Campbell had lost the rubber but won the match, Warrenpoint advancing by one hole with that duo and team-mate Coulter aiming for a second Barton Shield in four years, having won the title in 2011.

The heartache was twofold for Athenry, who began the day in search of an All-Ireland Barton Shield-Junior Cup double but ended it losing both semi-finals. The Galway club suffered at the hands of Munster champions once again as Castletroy progressed with a 3-1 victory to set up this morning’s Junior Cup final with Leinster’s Castle GC.

Athenry had got off to solid start, lead-off man Darragh Conlon winning his singles 6&5 but then the Limerick men hit their stride, Colm Geary, Brendan Reidy and Michael Murphy all recording convincing victories.

Castle scuppered another double dream with their 3-0 win over Warrenpoint, secured through wins at the top of order for Harry Gleeson, Ben Murray and Fergal Walsh, rendering Kevin Moran and Gerard Moran’s efforts unnecessary.

Today’s &action also features the Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals at Carton House, as reigning champions Spanish Point from East Clare put their title on the line against Connacht’s Enniscrone, while Ulster pennant holders Rossmore meet first-time Leinster champs Coollattin.

AIG Cups & Shields, Carton House Golf Club

AIG Barton Shield semi-finals

Warrenpoint bt Royal Dublin 1 hole: W Hanna & S Coulter bt R Knightly & S Ryan 2 holes; C Campbell & R Gribben lost to B Anderson & I O'Rourke 1 hole (20th); Muskerry bt Athenry 10 holes: N Gorey & D O'Donovan bt B O'Reilly & P Dolan* 5holes; D Hallissey & J Waldron bt D Byrne & J Bernie 5 holes. *Dolan replaced Martin Hynes who withdrew injured before play.

AIG Junior Cup semi-finals

Castle 4 Warrenpoint 1 (Castle names first): H Gleeson bt P Magee 2/1; B Murray bt J Campbell 2/1; F Walsh bt S McMahon 5/4; K Moran halved with M McGurk; G Moran halved with S Weir.

Castletroy 3½ Athenry 1½ (Castletroy names first): J McDonnell lost to D Conlon 6/5; C Geary bt B O'Connor 3/2; K Bermingham halved with L O'Hara; B Reidy bt T Reaney 5/4; M Murphy bt M Kennelly 4/3

Today

AIG Junior Cup final (10.20am)

Castle v Castletroy (Castle names first): H Gleeson v J McDonnell; B Murray v C Geary; F Walsh v K Bermingham; K Moran v B Reidy; G Moran v M Murphy

AIG Barton Shield final (11.10am)

Warrenpoint v Muskerry (Warrenpoint names first): W Hanna & S Coulter v N Gorey & D O'Donovan; C Campbell & R Gribben v D Hallissey & J Waldron

AIG Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals

(11.40am) Enniscrone v Spanish Point (Enniscrone names first): J Rush & J Rickard v K Hayes & D Sexton; K McGrath & E O'Doherty v E Talty & M Hehir; J Griffin & J Bowe v A Sexton & S Guilfoyle; R Cloonan & J Ruane v F Hehir & M Glenny; P Ruane & P Tighe v E Murphy & N Heeney.

(12.30pm) Rossmore v Coolattin (Rossmore names first): G McMahon & R McDonnell v J Byrne & J Harte; P Trappe & B Casey v M O'Neill & O Coleman; A Trappe & A Finnegan v D Traynor & P Tyrrell; B Gilbane & D McMahon v M Shortall & J Cullen; J McKenna & M Deery v J Murphy & J Thompson.

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