Whelan the 'ice man' as Maynooth survive wobble
Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30
Jake WHELAN went from forgotten man to 'ice man' for Maynooth University when he bravely holed a nine-foot par putt on the final green to give the college the first of what could be many AIG Senior Cup triumphs.
The students looked to be heading for a comfortable win over Ulster champions Knock in the showdown for the blue riband event on the O'Meara Course at Carton House.
They had two points in the bag thanks to wins for No 1 Ronan Mullarney over Michael Sinclair and anchor man Jack Walsh, who holed a five-iron on the fly from 178 yards at the eighth and chipped at the 12th as he beat Simon Miskelly 4&3.
But when Knock's James Patterson holed a 45-footer on the last to beat Stephen Kinch by one hole and tie the scores at 2-2 following an earlier 6&5 win for Colin Fairweather (he was six under) over Kyle McCarron, Whelan's match became the decider.
Maynooth's strength in depth - just one of the team that won in Leinster title was available as the remainder were in Switzerland competing in European Universities Championship - was severely tested.
And mild-mannered former Leinster Boys inter-provincial Whelan (20) didn't disappoint in his first appearance in the competition.
He wobbled a few times, losing the 15th after carving his tee shot into the hazard and then being forced to get up and down heroically for par from right of 16th to remain one up on veteran Mark McMurray, who lipped out for birdie there.
Looking likely to win the par-five 17th, Whelan lost it instead when he duffed a 100-yard wedge and took six to send the match, and the AIG Senior Cup, to the 18th.
What promised to be a dream debut threatened to turn into a nightmare but McMurray opened the door by leaving himself no shot after a pulled drive and Whelan breezed through it, hitting a great drive and splashing out of greenside sand to nine feet before rolling home the title-winning putt.
Walker Cup hero Gary Hurley turned up straight from a successful appearance at the first stage of Q-School in Scotland to support his old college team-mates.
"Well done Ice Man," Hurley said, giving Whelan his new nickname.
In the Jimmy Bruen Shield, Ballybunion beat Castlebar 3.5-1.5 to triumph in the competition for the first time since 1979.