Christy Roche is the hero for Cill Dara

When you’ve ridden Classic winners you would think you had reached the peak of sporting glory but when former jockey Christy Roche sank the winning putt to win an All-Ireland title for his golf club he experienced another level of satisfaction.

Roche, 66, secured a first green pennant for Cill Dara on Saturday as he clinched the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield by holding his nerve at the 19th hole as he and foursomes partner Pat Hopkins sealed a 3-2 triumph over Athenry at Carton House.

“It’s very, very difficult to compare (racing success with Saturday’s victory),” Roche said. “With the racing, it’s your livelihood, it’s your business. Today this was a sporting thing, and it’s probably more pressure because you’re doing it for our members. It means so much.”

Hopkins added: “I think that’s the advantage of having a nine-hole course, 300 male members, we’re very close.

"We were in a lot of battles together.” For a club based close to the Curragh, the nine-hole Cill Dara course is a natural destination for the racing fraternity and another team member was commentator Des Scahill, who with playing partner David Kelly, helped a fight back to tie the contest after Athenry had taken the first two points.

A Roche missed putt at 17 let Athenry’s Ciaran Coughlan and Seamus Burke in to level but he and Hopkins, who had helped Cill Dara win the Barton Cup in Leinster in 2004, would deliver a first green pennant to the club.

For the man who won the Irish Derby three times and saddled Secreto to Epsom glory in 1984, it was atonement for that putt on 17.

“I’ve experienced being under pressure all my life and I was able to put it out of the way, “ Roche said.

“So it was great in the finish because if I didn’t knock in the winner I would be remembered for missing the two-footer on 17.”


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