Team captain hails battling Thurles after third Purcell Shield success

Thurles Golf Club celebrated a third Pierce Purcell Shield All Ireland title and a second in three years as team captain Jimmy Ryan praised his players’ battling qualities and work ethic.

The high handicappers’ foursomes event often provides the most heightened emotions of the week at the AIG Cups and Shields finals and the Tipperary club did not let anyone down in terms of drama at Carton House over the past two days, the Munster champions coming from behind to win a semi-final over Portumna on Thursday before edging a tense decider with Royal Curragh yesterday.

The contest went down to the 18th hole of the fifth and final foursomes match as Stephen Quigley and Martin Fahy closed out a one-hole victory over Brenny Murphy and Paul Dempsey, Fahy sending in a pitch over a bunker onto the green for Quigley to putt within gimme distance.

It was nearly all too much for captain Ryan.

“I’m still not right, my heart is thumping at 100 to the gallon at the moment,” he said.

“We were dead and buried for a long time but these boys, their battling qualities are something else.

“They knowing nothing else but battle, battle all day long and they proved in the semi-final as well.

“Things didn’t look good and yet they came back and they definitely proved it today. They’re an unbelievable bunch of guys. They’re battle-hardened boys, all of them.”

It was a second All Ireland gold medal for John Looby and brothers Stephen and Shane Quigley, whose father, 13-handicapper Tommy Quigley, was celebrating his third Pierce Purcell title having been on Thurles’s 1997 and 2015 teams.

“I’m 59, in fierce trouble with my back,” Tommy Quigley said. “All the discs in my back are damaged and I have to have an operation. I can play with a buggy but there is nothing as good as this. I am stuck at work all day, driving a forklift for Bord Na Mona. This is what it’s all about. It’s brilliant with all the kids there.”

Tommy and Shane got their club off to a flyer with a 4&3 victory in the opening match, while Looby and Gerry Maguire won the third rubber by one hole. Royal Curragh grabbed two points to tie the contest through the pairings of Eddie Trant and Jimmy Murphy and Anthony Ryan and Thomas Powell before Stephen Quigley and Fahy got the job down for the club that will host next year’s Cups and Shields finals.

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