Great players hit great shots under pressure and Joe Lyons was thrilled to rifle a beauty to Westport’s 18th to give Galway AIG Senior Cup victory over Carton House.
In was the Connacht champions’ fourth Senior Cup success since 2006 and their second in three years and Lyons could not have been happier with the way he closed out the match against the veteran Westmeath man Dessie Morgan, firing a 182-yard seven-iron to 18 inches to seal a 3-2 win by two holes.
Galway had two points in the bag after Boys international Luke O’Neill beat Darragh Flynn and another teenager, Liam Nolan ,eased to a 5&4 win over Paul O’Hanlon in the anchor match.
While Keith Egan had beaten veteran Eddie McCormack 4&3 and Gary McDermott beat Irish Close champion Ronan Mullarney by one hole, Lyons was three-up with four to play against Morgan before he three-putted the 16th and 17th to go to the 566-yard 18th with the narrowest of leads.
Bunkered off the tee, he was forced to lay up but when Morgan went for broke and found the penalty area on the right with his daring second, Lyons’ dart to the last forced Morgan to try to chip in and after failing, he quickly offered his hand.
“I’d say that added about 10 years to my life there,” said 47-year-old Lyons, who went unbeaten in the Senior Cup and the Interpros this year.
“You want to be there and you want to be in with a chance to win but when it’s all on you over the last few holes and you’re my age and three-putt a couple of holes on the way in, you’re kind of thinking: ‘You want to be careful what you wish for.’”
Team captain Gerry Cox felt Galway’s strength in depth proved the difference in the end as they had a nine-strong panel that was a vibrant mixture of youth and experience.
“Myself and Joe slag each other because there’s a month between us in age,” Cox said.
I have to admit with Eddie (46) and Joe (47) the way that they’ve interacted with the younger guys in the squad this year has been fantastic.
In the AIG Junior Cup, hosts Westport claimed the title in style with a resounding 4-1 win over Dun Laoghaire. The Mayo men had lost three finals since 2006 but they were not to be denied on home soil yesterday.
Ronan Hehir beat Brian Begley and Ronan Mahon saw off Patrick McCann to make it 2-0 to the hosts but the third point proved elusive until Anto Browne two-putted the 19th from just off the green to beat Jamie Campbell with a priceless par-four and clinch the winning point.
“It’s brilliant,” said Browne who won the decisive point just seconds before Fergus Rothwell made a 25 footer for birdie on the 18th to close out a two-hole win over Kevin Giblin with a birdie. “We’ve been trying to win this for 10 or 15 years now.” It was an especially poignant win for Westport following the death on Friday of former club and GUI President Gar Golden.
Team captain, Tony Bree said: “We have all played with Gar a lot down the years. I remember back in 2002 in Galway when we were beaten in the Connacht final by Portumna, Gar played in that team, and he was still a fantastic player at that age.
“He was a great clubman, and he was great for the GUI. He was known in golf clubs everywhere, “Hopefully, he was looking down on us.”