Cutler stars as Irish stun England
Ireland produced a vintage display to send defending champions England tumbling to a shock opening-day defeat in the Home International series at Co Sligo yesterday.
It revived memories of the last time this round-robin event was contested at Rosses Point in 1991 when a Padraig Harrington-inspired Ireland lifted the Raymond Trophy and clinched the Triple Crown.
This time Ireland took full advantage of a below-strength England, missing Stiggy Hodgson and Darren Wright for disciplinary reasons, and Open hero Tom Lewis, who declined to compete.
However, take nothing away from Ireland, who finished with the wooden spoon at Ashburnham last year, but battled every inch of the way yesterday for a dramatic 8-7 win.
The Ireland-England clash was close throughout, as the host nation sneaked the foursomes 3-2, with two of the matches halved.
Paul Cutler, the Portstewart star who currently holds both the Irish Close and West of Ireland titles, was outstanding. He partnered Kevin Phelan to victory in the foursomes and then beat in-form Steven Brown in the top singles.
Cutler established an early advantage, but Brown battled back to all-square by the 14th. However, then Cutler won two of the next three holes for a notable triumph.
Alan Dunbar was well beaten by Andy Sullivan and both Phelan and Aaron Kearney were also defeated to leave the tie in the balance. Gary McDermott, making his debut at his home club, had a battle royal with Craig Hinton, with the Sligo player putting his nose in front a to win 2&1.
Ballymena teenager Dermot McElroy played out of his skin against Ben Stow and a massive roar went up when he knocked in an eight-foot putt on the last for victory.
With Ireland leading 7-6 in the clubhouse, the bottom two games, both level in the closing stages, were crucial.
Paul Dunne halved with Ben Taylor, ensuring that the hosts could not lose, leaving new cap Niall Gorey to earn the final half with David Coupland to give Ireland victory.
Scotland beat Wales 9-6 in the other opening-day fixture.
Today Ireland face Wales, while Scotland clash with England.
into match play
Dubliner Keagan Cummings produced one of the best rounds of the day over the tough Burnham and Berrow links in Somerset to stroll into the match-play stages of the British Boys Amateur Championship.
The 18-year-old fired a 72 to add to his 74 at Enmore Park the previous day. That gave him a 36-hole aggregate of 146, four strokes inside the qualifying mark.
West Waterford's Gary Hurley also made it through on 146 after a second successive 73. Alex Gleeson from Castle crashed out after an 81. Conor Glynn's 160 total was 10 strokes outside qualification, while David Manifold and Jamie Richardson were among other Irish boys to miss out.