Fota Island’s famous par five 18th hole last evening played a major role as Leinster retained the Interprovincial Championship in dramatic fashion.
Although held to a tied match by Ulster, they enjoyed the better overall record through the three days, leaving a delighted captain Seamus McParland to pay special tribute to the exploits of youngsters Jonathan Yates, Colm Purcell, and Kevin LeBlanc.
Meanwhile, Connacht recovered from a foursomes deficit against Munster to win five of the seven afternoon singles and claim third place on a 6½-4½ scoreline.
Fota’s water strewn 18th certainly lived up to its reputation for producing high levels of joy and disappointment in equal measure. On this occasion, it was Leinster’s turn to appreciate its virtues.
The teams finished level after the morning foursomes and for much of the singles, Ulster held the edge only for events at the 18th to tilt the overall balance against them.
Jonathan Yates from Naas, a strapping 22 year-old UCD student who defeated his Leinster team mate Daniel Holland to win the West of Ireland Championship at Easter, had good reason to feel shattered when his Ulster opponent Colin Fairweather holed from off the green at the 18th for a birdie four having been in trouble off the tee.
But Yates kept his composure to hole from 20 feet for an eagle three to clinch what proved to be an invaluable half point for his side.
And it was much the same story for another youngster, Portmarnock’s Colm Purcell, who sank a 15-footer for birdie on the last to beat Jordan Hood. The other points Leinster needed to keep their hands on the trophy came from Kevin LeBlanc and Daniel Holland.
Munster were left reeling after suffering their third successive defeat to end up with the “wooden spoon” after going down 6½-4½ to a Connacht side that played some of the best golf of the week.
Having taken a 2½-1½ lead out of the morning foursomes, the picture looked reasonably bright for Munster when Robin Dawson won the top single by 3 and 2 against Stephen Healy at much the same time as Peter O’Keeffe was inflicting his first defeat of the week on Connacht newcomer Jack McDonnell.
However, just as quickly the floodgates opened and a succession of Connacht wins followed one after another.
Shaun Carter beat Geoff Lenehan on the 18th and was quickly followed in the winner’s enclosure by Mark Morrissey, Cathal Nolan, Ronan Mullarney and Sean Flanagan, all of whom enjoyed handsome margins of victory.
Meanwhile in the ladies competition at Slieve Russell, Leinster edged Munster 4½-3½. Munster started well and took 2½ points early in the day but the singles was a closer battle.
An early win for Munster was recorded for Paula Walsh as Deirdre Smith retired due to injury. Chloe Ryan then added a point as she beat Ciara Casey 1up and Sarah Cunningham proved too good for Ariana Coyle Diez as she carded a 4&3 win.
Meanwhile, Aedin Murphy secured a vital point against Emma O’Driscoll and Meadhbh Doyle’s match against Aoife Lowry came down to the wire but Doyle edged the win on the home green, resulting in a final 4½-3½ win for Leinster.
Connacht ladies were the heroes of the day as they trailed Ulster 2-1 after the foursomes but wins from Connacht’s Maeve Kelly, Anne Brett and Shannon Burke in the singles resulted in a halved point between the two provinces.
Leinster take the lead entering the final day and will battle holders Ulster as Connacht will face Munster.
Defending girls champions Munster, were defeated by a strong Leinster team on day two at Slieve Russell, losing by 2½ to 5½.
Ulster trailed Connacht in the girls after the morning foursomes but came out fighting in the afternoon, as wins for Kate Dwyer, Maeve Cummins, Beth Coulter, and Olivia McClurg resulting in a 5½–2½ win for Ulster.
Ulster will take on Leinster while Connacht will face Munster on the final day.
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