Bandon secure their holy grail
Remarkable fighting spirit, right from the opening match of their campaign, brought Bandon GC the ultimate reward of a first Bulmers Irish Senior Cup triumph at Castlebar yesterday.
In the process, it became a highly emotional occasion for father and son, Donie and Brian O'Donovan.
Another father and son, this time in a foursomes pairing, gained a critical point for Clontarf, who captured the Jimmy Bruen Shield for a second time in three years with a 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 win over Tandragee. Down the short 20th Sean Stone, one of only three survivors from the 2008 team, missed the green in the top match but his son, Conor, chipped dead for a conceded win.
Almost simultaneously, the winning point came on the 16th from the anchor pairing of Paul Kealy and Paul McLoughlin, son of club president, Kevin McLoughlin, the former Dublin hurler.
In miserable morning rain, Bandon's 4-1 victory over Lurgan began and ended with the O'Donovans, both scratch men. Brian, playing his last amateur round before starting training next week as a club professional, set the mood with a crushing 4&3 win over Francis Tallon in the top match.
Then, as if to order, Donie delivered the decisive point in the last match where he was conceded victory on the short 16th. The trophy-winning shot was a beautifully controlled six-iron of 165 yards, which he held onto a strong left-to-right wind to finish 20 feet behind the pin.
Wiping away tears of joy, O'Donovan acknowledged Bandon's victory as a good omen for events at Croke Park today. But, understandably, he was more concerned with relishing a historic occasion while supporters sang The Banks.
"This is like the holy grail for Bandon," said the 52-year-old, who has spent his working life as a precision engineer in the town's Reliance company. "To do this on the occasion of my son's last match makes it extra special."
On their long path to the final, Bandon had won the South Munster final against Muskerry on the ninth tie hole and recovered from a seemingly hopeless position in Friday's semi-final against Co Sligo.
"There's certainly great passion, but there was also tremendous work behind this achievement," said O'Donovan.