Vaughan clan seek to bridge Limerick gap

Limerick Golf Club face Galway in today’s AIG Senior Cup final aiming to bridge the 15-year gap to their last victory in Irish club golf’s blue riband competition.

Limerick's Ciaran Vaughan celebrates after holing his birdie putt on the 16th. Picture: Pat Cashman

And there is no better embodiment of that timespan than the presence of the Vaughan family in both teams. Teenager Ciaran Vaughan clinched the decisive point in yesterday’s semi-final win over host club and Leinster champions Carton House, getting the Munster pennant holders over the line on a 3-2 scoreline, much to the delight of team captain Ger Vaughan, his father and a member of Limerick’s 2002 Senior Cup success.

“My dad is team captain and he was part of the team that won our last Senior Cup in 2002, so it would be pretty special to get the win with him as team captain,” the 18-year-old Vaughan said.

Vaughan junior had come from behind in his tussle with Carton’s Sean O’Connor, the third of five singles matches out on the O’Meara course. Teammates Owen O’Brien and former professional Justin Kehoe had already put two points on the board for the Limerickmen in the first and final ties, Carton House keeping the contest on the knife edge with victories for Jack Doherty and Gary McDermott.

For a time it looked as if the Kildare club, hosting the AIG Cups and Shields finals for the last time in a current four-year run, would sign off with at least a semi-final victory as O’Connor led the University of Limerick student over the front nine. Yet the competitive experience gained over the course of a Fred Daly Trophy-winning campaign last season was about to stand to Vaughan, who also won the Connacht Boys Open in 2016 and would beat his rival by two holes.

After a slow start, he had found himself two down after eight holes before beginning to apply some pressure on the back nine.

“I hit a good shot into 11, I just went over the back. I got up and down and that kind of started the comeback. He lost his ball on 13 so I felt like I had a chance here. I kept putting the pressure on. Thankfully I squeaked the win. It was a great day.

“This is my first year playing Senior Cup. We won the Fred Daly last year so that is obviously a help, we know we can do it in the big situations, so hopefully we can carry that on.

“We’ve won it four times, the last one was in 2002 and our mentor Ivan Morris last year for the Fred Daly, he was part of the team that won three in the space of a few years (1976, 1980, 1982).

“There’s a big tradition of Senior and Junior Cup so hopefully we can add to that. It’s been a bit too long since we won it the last time so hopefully we can rectify that.”

If Limerick are to lift the Senior Cup for the first time since 2002, they will have to get past a Galway team still smarting from their third successive Barton Shield final defeat here on Thursday.

The thought of having to rally the troops after another final defeat in the scratch foursomes, the second year in a row to Warrenpoint, had filled Galway veteran Joe Lyons with trepidation but the Connacht champions’ 3½ to 1½ victory over Royal Portrush in the first semi-final allayed his fears but only to an extent.

“Yeah, well, look, there’ll be nothing put to bed until tomorrow afternoon,” Lyons, 44, said following his one-hole win over Portrush’s Matthew McAlpin. “Nothing less than a win tomorrow will sate the appetite at this stage now.

“Yesterday was very disappointing. It was 2005 in Rosslare we had a very devastating Barton Shield defeat where we were five down with six to play and we lost on the 20th in the final against Warrenpoint again, of course, of all people. And we were flat the next day when we played Senior Cup and we went out and we lost.

“The flip side of that was that in 2009 we lost the Barton Shield and we went on and we brought home the Senior Cup at the end of the week, so there’s nothing saying we can’t do it. Look, we’ve a good team and again, it will be all on the day.

“If we’d have played in the Barton Shield final as we played in the Barton semi-final, we’d have run away with it. So I suspect if we turn up for the final, we’ll take some beating.”

Lyons paid tribute to Galway’s Barton Shield and Senior Cup team captains Gerry Cox and Kieran O’Mahony but added a caveat.

“They’ve been great, they’ve been with us for three years and we’ve three All Ireland silver medals in that time, we don’t want a fourth one.”

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