Friday 28 April 2017

McAuley magic helps Dunmurry join GUI elite

The Portumna Golf Club team of (back row, from left) Shane Ryan, Matt Donoghue, John Cleary and Niall Kilkenny, (front row, from left) Shane McHugo, John Cleary, Ger Lynch and Pat Quinlan celebrate after winning the Bulmers Junior Cup Final at Castlebar Golf Club
The Portumna Golf Club team of (back row, from left) Shane Ryan, Matt Donoghue, John Cleary and Niall Kilkenny, (front row, from left) Shane McHugo, John Cleary, Ger Lynch and Pat Quinlan celebrate after winning the Bulmers Junior Cup Final at Castlebar Golf Club
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

HISTORY finally bowed its knee and permitted Dunmurry and Portumna golf clubs to join the elite in the Bulmers GUI Cup and Shield finals at Castlebar yesterday.

Belfast club Dunmurry, founded in 1905, has waited 105 years to capture the Barton Shield, while Portumna, which came into existence in 1913, managed to win the Irish Junior Cup just three years short of its centenary.

Dunmurry's four-man team of Darren Crowe, Paddy McGlone, Stephen Crowe and Glenn McAuley brought their club its first green pennant by defeating Headfort by five holes.

Portumna had a tough battle before gaining a 3-2 verdict against Naas in the Junior Cup final.

Meanwhile, in the Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals, the stage is set for a Curragh v Nenagh showdown today after these teams defeated County Sligo 3.5-1.5 and Lisburn 3-2 respectively.

BARRIERS

The theme of the day was 'breaking through the barriers' for previously unsuccessful clubs at the highest level of club golf.

Former South of Ireland winner Darren Crowe and 19-year-old McGlone laid the platform for Dunmurry's Barton Shield victory by establishing an early advantage over Headfort's Joe Dillon and Greg Mungovan.

Crowe and McGlone -- the latter had never previously played competitive foursomes -- were six up at the turn, and five up after 16 holes.

Just behind them Stephen Crowe and McAuley, who was playing in his 17th Barton Shield campaign for the club, were one down against Irish international Rory McNamara and Brian Casey. McNamara put his tee shot to the 145-metre, par-three 16th on the green, 40 feet from the pin.

Crowe mishit a punched five-iron and the ball finished pin-high on a high bank to the right of the putting surface.

McAuley (32) was faced with a shot that would have worried Phil Mickelson. He had to slide his 60-degree sand-iron gently under the ball, which was lying in the rough, resist the temptation to get the head up too quickly, and move the club with sufficient momentum to let the ball float up high and land softly.

And that's exactly what he did. "It came out just the way I wanted and it gave Stephen a putt for par.

"We thought it would be for a half, but, as it turned out, it was the winning putt of the match," said McAuley.

Indeed it was, because Crowe holed the four-footer for par, and the Headfort boys three-putted, putting the match beyond their recall.

The Portumna v Naas Junior Cup final came down to a battle between the final pairings -- Pat Quinlan for the Galway club and David Prendergast of Naas.

Ger Lynch and Sean Cleary had won the opening two matches, but John Cleary, father of Sean, and Shane Ryan lost to Gus Fitzpatrick and Conor O'Hehir respectively.

For Quinlan, it was a case of 'opportunity knocks', and he took it. A member of the Tipperary 2005 Intermediate Hurling Championship side, Quinlan had been dropped for the Connacht final and it hurt.

"It was a major disappointment but it made me work all the harder to get my place back," he said.

Quinlan duly did the business against Prendergast, finishing the match on the 16th for his 3&2 win to ensure the Cup went to Portumna.

Nenagh and The Curragh include some formidable talent in their teams for today's Pierce Purcell Shield final.

Noel O'Dwyer, a former Tipperary All-Ireland hurling winner in 1971, gets a recall for the final. O'Dwyer, Tony Finnan, PJ Hogan and Willie Harty all have previous Pierce Purcell wins for Nenagh on their sporting CV.

Patsy Farrell, who plays number two with Sean O'Donnell for Nenagh, won the European Amateur Snooker Championship title with Joe Delaney in 2004.

Curragh's Tom Tobin was an Irish Junior bantamweight boxing title winner in 1986 -- and he beat Michael Carruth, who was later to win gold at Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

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