Warrenpoint pip Tramore to keep treble dream alive
WARRENPOINT and Mitchelstown golf clubs were linked in a north-south haze of goodwill and celebration at the end of an absorbing day's competition in the GUI Chartis Cups and Shields finals at Castlerock yesterday.
For Warrenpoint, the club's fifth Barton Shield victory and their first since 2005 was tinged with relief as much as joy when they overcame a gallant Tramore team which fought them to the last putt on the last green for a win by one hole.
Their heroes were the foursomes pairings of Paul Reavey/Stephen Coulter and Ryan Gribben/Colm Campbell Jnr. This quartet will be joined by David Barron for today's Senior Cup semi-finals where Warrenpoint play County Sligo, and Muskerry meet Portmarnock.
And there's more silverware on offer for Warrenpoint as they also have a team in the Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals -- so the treble hopes are still very much alive.
Meanwhile, Mitchelstown broke the mould by winning the club's first national pennant in their 101-year history by trouncing Lurgan 4-1 in the Junior Cup.
Dublin's Corrstown also broke new ground with a dramatic 3-2 Pierce Purcell Shield semi-final win against Letterkenny to set up today's final against Woodstock, who defeated Athenry 3-2.
All in all, it was a good day for manufacturers of blood pressure tablets -- especially in the Barton Shield.
This event is decided on the aggregate number of holes won by a club's two foursomes pairings, and for a long while, Warrenpoint looked comfortable against Tramore.
Reavey and Coulter were two-up after 11 holes against Butler and King, and Gribben and Campbell Junior were four-up on Thomas and Kiely.
And then the fun began, as the Tramore players dug deep and produced a stirring fightback against all the odds.
Butler and King charged back into the match to lie all-square after 16 and the Thomas/Kiely duo were all-square playing the 18th. Ultimately, the match turned on the final two holes for each group.
Tramore's Butler and King lost the 17th when they were through the par-five green in three and ended up with a bogey six to go one down. They duly halved the 18th with Reavey and Coulter to finish all square.
Behind them, Warrenpoint's Campbell missed the fairway off the 18th tee and left Gribben with a tough 100-yard plus shot from the bottom of a huge mound.
"The ball wasn't sitting too pretty, but I was happy it was in play and I had a shot. I just wanted to get it anywhere around that green. It turned out to be very good for us," Gribben said.
Indeed it did. Gribben's shot arced high onto the green and finished 15 feet away from the flag.
And for Tramore, Kiely hit a brilliant approach shot to seven feet, and Campbell then left the Warrenpoint putt dead for a par.
Thomas agonisingly saw his birdie attempt slide by the hole and that was Tramore's last hope gone. Defeat by one hole. Agony for Tramore, but ecstasy for Warrenpoint.
Mitchelstown team captain Stephen Slattery, his players and supporters from the Cork club were overjoyed to defeat Lurgan and win the Junior Cup.
Their decisive point-scorers were John Cahill, a four-time All-Ireland pitch and putt champion, Adrian Gamble, who played on the Cork team which recently won the All-Ireland Garda championship, and the club's youngest player, 17-year-old Sean Lane.
Mitchelstown's other matches involving John Maguire and Clem Leonard were then called in, but both men were leading at the time.