Tommy Quigley hugged his sons and team-mates Stephen and Shane as Thurles celebrated their first AIG Pierce Purcell Shield win for 18 years.
But while there was great joy among the Tipperary men as they beat Connacht champions Gort 3½-1½ at Carton House, there were also tears of sadness as they claimed the title wearing black ribbons in tribute to their late team-mate Vinnie O’Brien, who passed away suddenly at the age of 52 just four weeks ago.
“He was the heart and soul of the team,” said Tommy, a member of the 1979 team that claimed the title in Dundalk, as he was consoled by his son.
Stephen clinched the winning point alongside Shane when he hit the green in regulation at the par-three 16th and both John Moylan and John Tierney found water for Gort.
Stephen confessed that they had promised the late man’s widow that they would bring home a gold medal.
That was for Vinnie today.” Stephen said. “He was the joker, the character of our team. His widow Joan asked us to win it for him, so we said we’d do our best. It’s great to be able to give her his gold medal.”
Team captain Frankie McGrath added: “We did it for his family as much as for ourselves. His wife Joan sent her good wishes and we want to acknowledge that and wish them all the best.”
There was more joy for Munster golf fans in the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield as Ballybunion, bidding for their first win in the competition for 36 years, beat Fortwilliam 4-1.
They will face Castlebar, who beat Greystones 3½ to 1½, in today’s final but there will be no Munster presence in the battle for the blue riband AIG Irish Senior Cup as Limerick fell 3½-1½ to Ulster champions Knock, who will face hot favourites Maynooth University in today’s final following their 4-1 win over Athlone.
Limerick’s Pat Murray had to sweat to beat Michael Sinclair by one hole in the top match having had a three putt for the match on the 16th.
But it didn’t go Limerick’s way in the middle order as James Patterson beat Michael O’Kelly 3 and 2 and international Colin Fairweather then rode his luck to see off Sean Poucher by one hole in the decisive match with Justin Kehoe and Simon Miskelly called in.
Fairweather sank a six-footer for half in par threes at the 16th to remain one up and then escaped disaster off pulled tee shots at the 17th and 18th to clinch a one-hole win over Sean Poucher.
In the ditch at the 17th, he was fortunate to have a stance near a stone wall that was missing some top blocks, allowing him to make a back swing and get back into play and make a comfortable par for a half in fives as Poucher missed a 10-footer for a birdie after a fine third.
At the tough par-four 18th, the recent South of Ireland runner-up and Home Internationals winner Fairweather tugged his drive again but got lucky as it came up a few yards short of the heavy rough and out of bounds line.
With Poucher hitting a great fairway wood to 15 feet, Fairweather was under pressure but he found the back of the green in regulation and two-putted for par and victory after Poucher’s birdie effort burned the edge on the low side.
“The margins are very fine at this level,” Limerick veteran Murray said.
Even without internationals Robin Dawson and Stuart Grehan or Leinster interprovincial Alan Lowry, who are on duty in the European Universities Championship in Switzerland, Maynooth University still eased to a 4-1 win over Athlone.
And while there have been mutterings of discontent in golfing circles that a college team fuelled by an endless supply of Paddy Harrington Scholarship players is dominating interclub competitions, not everyone was complaining.
“To win an All-Ireland you want to play the best and beat the best,” said Athlone’s Niall Carroll, who lost 2 and 1 to former Irish Youths champion Kyle McCarron.
Maynooth University captain Donal Scott said simply: “We’re blessed with a lot of talent. While we lost three of the guys that played in Leinster final, it is nice for the three guys who came in to be able to step up to the plate this weekend and give it a rattle.”
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