Castlebar's never say die spirit is key to win
They might be the minnows of golf in terms of handicaps, but the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield has a habit of creating serious predators and so it proved in Connacht as Castlebar refused to go down for the third year running and took the Connacht title.
Having lost the provincial decider in 2014 and 2015, the Mayo men overcame early reverses to beat Gort 3-2 at Ballinrobe, in what turned out to be an epic final that went all the way to the 19th in the deciding match.
It was a heart-stopping affair with Castlebar's never-say-die spirit the difference in the end, as they booked their tickets to Carton House in sensational style.
Pat Waldron and John Kelly put Castlebar's first point on the board by beating Gerry Broderick and Matthew O'Halloran on the 21st, before Gort fought back with Ger Connors and Michael Ryan and Pat Curtis and Frank Higgins closing out wins on the 17th green.
Read more: Shield of dreams
For long periods Gort looked certain to triumph. With two matches to be decided they stood all square in one match and one up with one hole to go in the other.
But Castlebar had other ideas and when Declan Prendergast and Sean Haugh made a magical up-and-down for par to beat Evan Kilroy and Pat Ryan on the 18th, they dared to dream big
Val Jennings and Michael McHugh were one down playing the 18th, but they won the hole to force sudden-death with John Tierney and Michael O'Dell and then took the 19th to send an ecstatic Castlebar and their loyal band of supporters to the AIG All Ireland finals.
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