The Waterford club came back from the brink in their semi-final with Leinster champions Rosslare yesterday to set up a final showdown with holders Co Sligo this morning. And with West Cork’s Lisselan reaching today’s Jimmy Bruen Shield final there remains the possibility of a clean sweep for Munster clubs of the AIG Cups and Shields national titles after Spanish Point added the Pierce Purcell Shield yesterday to Thursday’s haul of a Barton Shield for Muskerry and Casteltroy’s Junior Cup.
That the possibility remains at all is thanks to Tramore’s resolve in coming from behind to see off Rosslare. The 1992 champions, Barton Shield finalists in 2011 and Senior Cup semi-finalists a year later, looked to be heading for similar disappointment at the halfway stage of their singles matches with the first-time Leinster pennant winners. Worse was to come when lead-off man, teenage Irish senior international Robin Dawson was a surprise 4&3 loser to Rosslare’s Gary Collins. But Tramore rallied on the back nine and beyond for three crucial wins from Paul Flynn, Chris Butler and Alan Thomas.
Former Waterford hurler and All Star Flynn defeated Mark Mullen at the 20th, Butler beat Tony O’Leary 3&2 and Thomas sealed the 3½-1½ victory with a 19th hole win over 16-year-old Paul Murphy, the final match between Tramore’s David Kiely and Rosslare’s Ian Lynch called in and halved as they were set to play extra holes.
“We were buried after nine holes,” Thomas said. “Rosslare just came out of the blocks and blew us away, really, for nine holes. I didn’t know how any match was going until the ninth green, and I missed about a five footer for birdie and he had a putt from five feet to go two up.
“I just looked at the board and we were three down, two down, one up and I looked like going two down and three down in the last. We hung in there. We are six years together and we don’t give up.
“We played Warrenpoint in the Barton Shield in 2011 and we were seven down going down the 11th and only I missed a short putt on the last we’d have gone up 19. We don’t give up. We have good belief.
“Chris Butler was level [yesterday] and next time we heard he was three up, little things like that; David Kiely was three down and next time I asked he was two up, Paul Flynn going up 18 and 19... it gets you going, none of us want to leave each other down.”
Tramore will need some more belief if they are to conquer the men from Rosses Point in this morning’s final after Co Sligo defeated Ulster champions Banbridge 3-2 yesterday.
Clare outfit Spanish Point successfully defended their Pierce Purcell Shield title with a 4-1 final victory over Ulster champions Rossmore, each of their five pairings contributing at least one half point with Evan Talty & Mervin Hehir winning the decisive second rubber by two holes over Gerry McMahon & Rory McDonnell.
Micheal Talty, the Spanish Point team manager and Evan Talty’s cousin, said the third match won 5&4 by Fergal Hehir and Martin Glenny over Rossmore’s Padraig Trappe & Brendan Casey had been the key to the team victory as the Ulstermen’s best pairing had been defeated.
“I’m gobsmacked. We’re all from the same area – from Quilty, Milltown-Malbay, Spanish Point, we’re all good friends. We’ve only 180 members. It’s beyond our wildest dreams. We’ll probably never be here again in Pierce Purcell. Down the line hopefully we might compete in a Bruen.”
While both Senior Cup finalists have won the blue riband before, there will be a new name on the Bruen Shield when Lisselan from Clonakilty meet Leinster champions Waterford, 3-2 winners over Strabane, in today’s final.
A victory for the nine-hole club from West Cork would complete a fairytale rise to the national title. They defeated Tralee on the 21st hole in the decisive match of the Munster final and continued their journey on the O’Meara course yesterday by ousting Connacht champions Strandhill 3.5-1.5. Leo Hassett and Andrew Whelton opened up with a 6&5 victory while there were also wins for Raymond Hayes and Paschal Hayes and Eoin Ryan and Cathal Kirby with Donnchadh and Richard Fleming chipping in with a half point.
* In yesterday’s coverage of Muskerry’s Barton Shield title success, Muskerry golfer Daniel Hallissey was incorrectly identified. Congratulations to Daniel and apologies for the error. More on Muskerry’s victory in next Tuesday’s Golf Column.