Ireland team fail to fire on 'Home' front as hotly tipped England prevail
Ireland battled bravely but crashed to an 11-4 defeat at the hands of hot favourites England in the Home International Championship at Ashburnham in south Wales yesterday.
But the scoreline somewhat flattered England as four of the matches ended on the home green.
Ireland's hopes of a surprise were dealt a blow when they lost the foursomes 4-1, after which they were always playing catch-up and there was never a chance of victory. Now they will play host nation Wales, who came from behind to beat world champions Scotland 8-7.
Ireland's only foursomes winners were national champion Dara Lernihan and Pat Murray, who were one down with six to play to British boys champion Tom Lewis and Chris Lloyd but came through on the last.
Lernihan had a difficult top-of-the-order singles match with European silver medallist Tommy Fleetwood; the Irishman lost on the last after sticking to his task well over the back nine, which Fleetwood covered in two under par.
Portstewart's Paul Cutler, the Lytham Trophy winner, was well below his best and succumbed 5&3 to Lewis, and defeats followed for Paul Dunne, Alan Dunbar and Eddie McCormack, by which time it was all over.
A bright spot from the Irish point of view came when new cap Kevin Phelan gained his first international win in decisive fashion thrashing Lancashire's Jack Senior by 5&3.
Phelan, who hails from Waterford, has dual citizenship -- Irish and American -- and is at University of North Florida -- and says it would be "an unbelievable experience" if he could make it into the Walker Cup team.
The 19-year-old, who qualified for the US Open, had a remarkable round, with eight birdies and no bogeys, and was always in charge.
Conor Doran and Luke Lennox also won their games but Ireland really had to play second fiddle.
Elsewhere, Garth McGimpsey rolled back the years in stunning style to be among the frontrunners in the British Seniors Open Championship over the Old Course at Walton Heath. The former Walker Cup captain from Bangor fired a two-under-par 70 in his first round to lie in third place behind American veteran Danny Yates.
The 1985 Amateur champion showed he has lost none of his prowess in producing some fine golf -- he had level halves of 35 -- which included an eagle three at the 510-yard 16th.
He had started a little shakily, dropping strokes at each of the first two holes, but soon got his act together and looked very impressive after that.
Arthur Pierse, the 2007 champion from Tipperary, is very much in contention after a 73, while County Louth's Barry Reddon and Tom Cleary of Cork returned 74.
Results in factfile