Gorey and O’Donovan lead Muskerry to Barton Shield glory

Niall Gorey works for the company that makes the All-Ireland winners’ medals but yesterday he earned one to keep as Muskerry delivered one half of an AIG Cups and Shields double for Munster.

Gorey and O’Donovan lead Muskerry to Barton Shield glory

Gorey’s Muskerry won the Barton Shield for the first time since 1953 by three holes over Ulster champions Warrenpoint, while Castletroy lifted the Junior Cup, their quintet fighting back to defeat Leinster champions Castle GC 3½-1½ in singles matchplay.

Irish international Gorey, 35, and 36-year-old Dave O’Donovan drove Muskerry to victory over the O’Meara course as they defeated Warrenpoint’s Stephen Coulter and William Hanna by five holes while in the second match Mark Hallissey and John Waldron did their part to keep the Ulster champions’ in-form pairing of Ryan Gribben and Colm Campbell to just a two-hole win, Muskerry thereby securing the title by three holes on aggregate.

Gorey referred to his playing partner’s superstitious nature when he said: “I’m working for MMI, ironically, the company that make the gold medals. I had one in my hand a few weeks ago and I was going to send a picture to Dave, but you can’t say a word to him. I’m going to win a medal that was made by the company I work for, which is great.”

Nor had O’Donovan been aware of the 61-year Barton Shield drought for Muskerry until the team won the provincial pennant.

“We only heard after winning Munster, which we couldn’t believe,” O’Donovan said. “I’m very superstitious, but I saw it as a positive because they went on to win it (in 1953). A good omen.”

For Castletroy’s Jonathan McDonnell, the victory justified the UCD student’s decision along with team-mate Keith Bermingham not to go to the USA for the summer holidays.

It was that pair’s fightback over the back nine to a point and a half respectively that helped deliver the title.

The final had been perfectly poised at the halfway stage with lead-off man McDonnell, the son of team captain Johnny McDonnell, and Bermingham, playing third, each two holes down at the turn. Colm Geary was all square against Castle’s Ben Murray while Brendan Reidy and Michael Murphy were ahead in the final two matches.

Reidy and Murphy would hold their leads for 4&2 wins over Castle’s Kevin Moran and Gerard Moran respectively but Geary eventually lost out 2&1 to Murray, placing the onus on McDonnell and Bermingham.

Bermingham, trailing Fergal Walsh, rallied at the 14th with a birdie and when Walsh found water at the 16th he held his nerve to level for a valuable half-point.

The comeback was completed as McDonnell, who lost his semi-final rubber in the victory over Athenry on Wednesday, completely turned the tables on Castle veteran Harry Gleeson, winning the last four holes to run out a one-hole winner as Castletroy claimed their first Junior Cup since 1972, in a year when clubman Liam Martin is serving as GUI president.

“I am so happy, over the moon,” Jonathan McDonnell said. “We’ve been working to this all summer. A lot of us decided not to go away for the summer because we knew there was something special about this team.

“Definitely the best day I have ever had in golf.”

In the Pierce Purcell Shield, defending champions Spanish Point remain on course for back-to-back titles following a 4-1 victory over Enniscrone. They will face Rossmore, 4-1 winners over Coollattin, in today’s final.

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