Lowry's Curragh end long wait for success
THE Curragh Golf Club has traditionally enjoyed close links with the military and some martial fervour rubbed off on their Pierce Purcell Shield team in the Bulmers GUI Cups and Shields finals at Castlebar yesterday.
At one stage, opponents Nenagh were left reeling under the Curragh blitzkrieg, and eventually the Tipperary club had to wave the white flag of surrender, losing 3.5 to 1.5.
It was a stunning success for the second oldest golf club in the country. Founded in 1883, two years after Royal Belfast, The Curragh has a long and proud history, but the trophy cabinet has been bare in terms of GUI national titles.
Yesterday, skipper Chris Lowry's team came good and delivered the Pierce Purcell trophy in fine style.
James Murphy and Paul Hogan defeated Matthew O'Gara and Tony Finnan 3 and 2, and the Dalys, dad Brendan and son Brian, were unstoppable in beating Paddy Peters and Noel O'Dwyer 6 and 4.
Nenagh stemmed the bleeding when Bernard Hackett and PJ Hogan delivered a 6 and 5 result against The Curragh's Derek Farrell and Derek Kelly.
There was a slight hiccup when Eddie Trant and Pat Sullivan, both gardai and a golfing partnership for over a decade, were five up with five to play against former Irish snooker international Patsy Farrell and Sean O'Donnell.
Farrell and O'Donnell won 14 and 15 to shock the Curragh players, but a superb five-iron to 10 feet by Sullivan to set up a winning birdie, clinched the victory.
The Irish Senior Cup semi-final between Bandon and County Sligo provided drama worthy of a Ryder Cup before the Cork team won 3-2.
Bandon lost the two top matches when Barry Anderson took out Brian O'Donovan by 5 and 3, and Gary McDermott beat Ger Tobin 5 and 4.
Veteran Donie O'Donovan, who played in Bandon's last Munster Barton Shield win in 1978, provided the only ray of light. He was six up after 11 against Serryth Heavey and won 7 and 6. It seemed to be too little too late as Denis O'Brien, team captain of Bandon, admitted later.
Kieran Hurley in match three was three down after nine to Rory McNamara, who had played in the Barton Shield for Headfort on Wednesday and Thursday.
Dwyane Twomey, brother of well-known Munster coach Fred, was also three down after nine to Stephen Brady.
But in a stunning rally, Hurley and Twomey found inspiration and the birdies they needed, with Hurley levelling the overall match at 2-2 when he won 3 and 2 against McNamara.
Twomey and Brady gave an exhibition of short-game skills over the last three holes, but when the latter's third shot to 18 finished in the water, it was advantage Twomey and he didn't waste it.
Lurgan, newcomers to his level, had a comprehensive 4-1 win over Kilkenny. They have two Scots in their team -- Steve Kelly who is the course superintendent at Knock GC, and Dave Sutton, a plus-three handicap, while Gary Clarke played Irish League soccer with Glenavon.
A current Glenavon and ex-Everton player, 21-year-old Ryan Harpur got the weekend off soccer duties to assist Tandragee against Swinford in the Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals.
Harpur and partner Warren Jardine won their match in Tandragee's 3-2 win to put them into today's final. Diminutive 15-year-old Ross Dutton and Stefan McNeill, and Gordon Haire and Johnny Quinn were the other winning pairings for the Northern club.
Clontarf, Bruen champions in 2008, had a tough battle against gallant Carrick-on-Suir before qualifying for the final by 3.5 to 1.5.
Father and son Sean and Conor Stone and Ray Maguire and Adam Burke won their matches, but John Ryan and Johnny Quinn got one back for Carrick-on-Suir.
Paul O'Brien -- a dancer who has travelled the world with Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance -- and partner Tony Duffy landed Clontarf's knockout blow by winning the 18th for a two-holes result.