Clandeboye claim glory in Murphy's swansong
AGE is no barrier to achievement at the top level of inter-club golf – as Clandeboye and Ballybunion proved in the AIG club finals at Royal Tara GC.
The glory belonged to Clandeboye's Barton Shield team and the teenage stars of Ballybunion, who claimed the Junior Cup for the first time in the renowned north Kerry club's history.
Colm Murphy of Clandeboye, 50 in November, and 16-year-old John Molyneaux Jnr, Ballybunion's No 1 player, were the oldest and youngest players in the finals.
Both now have gold medals, but, while former Senior Cup winner Murphy, a veteran of national semi-finals and finals, is retiring from inter-club golf, Molyneaux has years ahead of him at this elite level.
Murphy said: "I'm delighted for everyone in the club, but this is definitely my swansong. That's me finished. I'm a loyal club member and it's time for me to step aside and try to help the younger players in the club."
One of those younger Clandeboye players is 18-year-old William Russell, a former boys international.
Russell has partnered Murphy throughout this successful run, which brought Clandeboye their first national Barton Shield triumph since 2002.
Murphy was full of praise for Russell, saying: "I've played in this a long time and William's definitely the best partner I've had. He's a fantastic golfer."
The overall match margin was two holes. County Sligo's first pairing, Sean Flanagan and Sligo hurling goalkeeper Declan Reidy, polished off Graeme Laird and Lee Crawford by five holes, but the Murphy/Russell combination gained a seven-hole win over Gary McDermott and Steffan O'Hara.
In the Junior Cup, Ballybunion, fielding five teenagers, gained a 4-1 result against strongly-fancied Westport.
Appropriately, the 'homework' 'Ballyb' did in playing the Royal Tara course six times in advance of the finals helped the lads from the links to settle in to the parkland layout.
Team manager John Maher was full of praise for his fearless young side, particularly for Molyneaux Jnr, who came from two down after 13 to win by two holes against Ronan Hehir.
"It's the youngest team we've ever put out in the club and they're a great bunch of lads. John is No 1 for a reason and we knew he wouldn't let us down," said Maher.
Frank Geary Jnr and Richard Hanley, whose chip-in on the 16th clinched the result, were the other Ballybunion winners. Jason Lynch, unbeaten throughout the campaign and Senan Carroll were leading when their matches were called in.
Meanwhile, in the Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals Spanish Point beat Rossmore 4-1 and Claremorris ousted Corrstown by 3-2.
Spanish Point, who boast Clare and Kilmurry-Ibrickane footballer Evan Talty, are bidding for the club's first ever GUI title. Claremorris, Jimmy Bruen Shield winners in 2011, will be hoping to add the Purcell Shield to their recent Irish Mixed Foursomes national win.