Deegan sights set on adding Senior title to his All-Irelands
CONOR DEEGAN -- a two-time All-Ireland football medal winner with Down in the '90s -- is chasing more glory in the Irish Senior Cup final at Kinsale Golf Club today.
Deegan's sporting talent, which brought him to the pinnacle of GAA success with Down in 1991 and 1994, has transferred smoothly into golf as he and his Castle GC team-mates prepare for battle with Warrenpoint.
The ex-footballer plays his golf off a plus-five handicap, making him one of the lowest handicapped players in the country.
Yesterday, Castle -- Leinster champions this year for the first time in their history -- accounted for County Sligo by 3.5 to 1.5 in the Senior Cup semi-final with Deegan, along with teenagers Alex Gleeson and Jack Walsh winning their matches.
"I'm ecstatic," Deegan said. "It's a huge thing for the club because it has taken 99 years to get to this point, and now we're hoping to go a stage further.
"I was very lucky in sport in some ways but this is so different. We have a great team ethos going, a great atmosphere and eight lads pushing like hell for places."
Ironically, Castle face Down club Warrenpoint in the decider, but Deegan will put his native loyalties aside until the match is over.
Warrenpoint -- with former Walker Cup winner Paddy Gribben back in the team this year -- ousted Tramore in the other semi-final, also by 3.5 to 1.5. Gribben was a supporter last year as Warrenpoint won the Barton Shield but fell in the Senior Cup final to Portmarnock, so he is relishing his role in the thick of the action this week.
Stephen Coulter was the hero for the Ulster champions as he holed from off the green on the 19th to beat Robin Dawson and clinch the victory.
Former Limerick footballer Liam Keane played on the Newcastle West team that took the Pierce Purcell Shield at the expense of Connacht champions Gort by 4-1. Keane partnered Gerry Foley to win a vital point in the final.
"I've played a lot of sports down through the years and I don't think anything compares to this," Keane said. "The emotion shown out there by some of the older members of the club was second to none.
"We've had a lot of trials, a lot of training sessions and we've become very good friends and, I suppose, this is the culmination of all the work we put in."
Newcastle West team captain Mike O'Connor said: "It's a great honour because they are the first team to ever do it for Newcastle West and I'm proud and honoured to be a part of the team and part of such a wonderful group of people."
The Jimmy Bruen Shield final will be contested by Ulster's Killymoon and Connacht title holders Roscommon, who defeated Goldcoast and Waterford respectively in the semi-finals.