Nenagh landed their fourth Pierce Purcell Shield title at Carton House as they continued their romp through the AIG GUI Cups and Shields national finals, but for team captain Tony McCann it was an All Ireland victory six months in the making.
The Tipperary club, the only Munster provincial champions to reach a national final this year, picked up their first green pennant since 1998 in the foursomes contest for pairings of 12 handicappers and up with a minimum combined handicap of 27.
They defeated Connacht titleholders Castlebar 4-1 in yesterday’s final having brushed aside Ulster champions Nuremore by the same score in Thursday’s semi-final.
“It’s a great honour to win an All Ireland title,” McCann said. “We’re very proud of our team and the effort they put in over the last five or six months since we started out in Roscrea.
“Our Munster final in Douglas was our major battle, against Thurles who were the reigning All Ireland champions. That was the one where we felt we had a real battle on our hands and we got through that.
“To dethrone not only your neighbours but the All Ireland champions we felt was a major achievement.
“We came up against Nuremore (on Thursday) and I think in fairness to Nuremore they didn’t give the best account of their quality of the golf they’re capable of. But we knew we’d be up against it against Castlebar and we were well prepared. We’ve good golfers in the club and we’re delighted they were able to finish it off.”
They finished it off in style, Patrick Kennedy and Padraig Hackett winning the opening match 5&4, followed by Bernard Hackett and Pat J Hogan’s 5&4 victory before David Hickey and Matthew O’Gara beat their Mayo opponents by the same margin to reach an unassailable lead, the remaining matches being halved between Mel Gleeson and John Hogan against Castlebar’s David Molloy and Paul Fitzgerald and Thomas Slattery and Jim Gleeson against Sean Haugh and Declan Prendergast.
Today will see the last of the AIG finals take place at Carton House with the mid-handicappers’ Jimmy Bruen Shield contested by local club Cill Dara, who defeated Munster champs Muskerry 3-1 in their semi-final yesterday, and Athenry, who needed a 20th hole win in the final match for John Michael McCauley and Alan Hawthorne to see off Ulster’s Fortwilliam and book the Connacht side into the decider.
The blue riband event to round off another compelling week of Irish inter-club golf will see a battle royale in the AIG Senior Cup final between recent All Ireland champions Castle and Co.Sligo.
Castle, the 2012 champions at Kinsale, overcame Ulstermen Shandon Park 3-2 in their semi-final with Ireland Close champion Alex Gleeson, Jim Mulready and Daniel Holland winning their singles matches to see the Leinster pennant holders into the decider.
The Dubliners will come up against a Rosses Point side which succeeded them as Senior Cup champions in 2013 and then lost the 2014 final to Tramore. Sligo booked their return to the final with a hard-fought 3.5 to 1.5 win over Cork side Monkstown with 19-year-old TJ Ford the star of the show as he secured victory for his team with a 2 holes win over Martin Poucher, sealing his point at the 18th with a magnificent three-wood from right rough around a tree onto the green.
Not bad for a rookie whose primary sporting focus this year had been with the Connacht Under-19 rugby squad.
Monkstown team manager Pat O’Keeffe could only admire Ford’s play but was proud of his team’s effort in their first trip to the national finals in a very long time.
“We started well, lost control in the middle but started to really rally down 14, 15 and 16. In fairness to Ford the 16th was the crucial par-three, our guy (Poucher) puts it into 15 feet off the tee and he puts it into eight feet and holes for two.
“It was an excellent chip and putt at 17 and he hit a great shot in at 18, a wonderful shot, and it comes down to that.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved