Junior Cert results have to wait as Smyth seals Castle glory
Published 16/09/2016 | 02:30
Schoolboy hero Tommy Smyth clinched an historic first AIG Junior Cup victory for Castle GC in a dramatic finish at Carton House yesterday.
Smyth (15) who played a key role in Castle's run through Leinster, handled the pressure of the final against Lurgan GC with admirable fortitude.
The teams were locked together at 2-2 as Smyth played the par-five 17th hole against Andrew Cummins.
Cummins had the momentum, as he had won the 15th and 16th holes to lie one-down against the Castle player. And Smyth then found a fairway bunker off his second shot on the 17th.
Pressure? What pressure? The Terenure College student fired a superb eight-iron to the heart of the green, 15 feet from the pin. He then rolled the ball home to prompt a thunderous roar of joy from the Castle team and supporters who had endured a nerve-jangling afternoon.
Kevin Moran had lost to Keith Percy by one hole. Veteran Harry Gleeson, who managed Castle to 2003 Jimmy Bruen Shield success and their 2012 Senior Cup win, got a 4&3 verdict over James Horan.
Paul Whelan lost to Gareth Hanna 5&4, but Fergal Moran, twin brother of Kevin, defeated Jim McKee 2&1.
Hearing that result gave Smyth a timely boost.
"I hit my drive straight down the middle and then tried to lay up down the right, and hit four-iron straight into a bunker," he said.
"I hit the eight-iron to 15 feet. I was kind of pumped, because I'd just heard Fergal had won his match. There was a big roar, I was confident of hitting it.
"This is huge for the club. We've been at All-Ireland finals five of the last 11 years. It was nice to hole the winning putt."
Afterwards he revealed that unlike many thousands of young students, he had yet to open his Junior Cert results in order to keep his focus on his golf.
"I'm 15, this is all new to me. I didn't open them yet (Junior cert results). I said I'd wait until after the Junior Cup. I wanted to concentrate on the golf. I don't know where they (the results) are," he said.
There is, of course, no 'I' in team and the Castle, as with newly crowned Barton Shield champions Warrenpoint, presented a united front to bring home a coveted green pennant.
Colm Campbell Jnr is the highest-profile member of the Warrenpoint team but he stressed that team unity had brought the club their victory over Galway by four holes.
Paul Reavey and Jamie Fletcher fended off the grittily defiant Joe Lyons and Liam Power to claim a two-holes win in the first match.
Campbell and Stevie Coulter also got a test of nerve and endurance from Galway's Ronan Mullarney and Stephen Brady before they closed out the match on the 17th to give Warrenpoint a win by four holes.
The two Ulstermen had teamed up at the Irish Amateur Open in which Coulter caddied for Campbell, who won this prestigious international title at Royal Dublin in May.
Campbell, who won the decisive point which gave Ireland their recent three-in-a-row Home Internationals success, welcomed the victory after three final defeats in 2011, '12 and '14.
"That was the big motivator, coming down this week knowing that we'd lost three All Ireland finals. Three tight All-Ireland finals," he said.
"Dad (Colm Snr) said after we won in Portstewart in the Ulster final, we didn't want to be coming back up empty-handed.
"The two lads in front (Reavey and Fletcher) played awesome golf yesterday and played even better golf today, so they have to take a huge credit as well.
"They led from the start and they really rallied us home as well, so it was good," said Campbell.
The scenic par-three 16th on the O'Meara Course proved decisive as Coulter and Campbell worked out line and pace perfectly before Campbell holed from 30 feet for a key birdie.
That putt gave the Warrenpoint boys a one-hole lead, and a par on 17 proved enough to bring the Shield up North.