Monday 11 December 2017

Portmarnock bag Senior Cup

Dermot Gilleece

Portmarnock revelled in the familiar feel of links terrain when capturing the Chartis Irish Senior Cup for a 19th time at windswept Castlerock yesterday.

And with James Fox showing the way from the top of the order, his father Noel found an encouraging omen regarding Dublin's All-Ireland challenge this afternoon.

"When Portmarnock won the Senior Cup up here at Portstewart in 1995, it was followed by Dublin's last All-Ireland title," said Fox senior, a member of the victorious 1963 team. "Let's hope we also get the double this time around."

Warrenpoint, the defeated finalists, set a new benchmark for national inter-club competition back in 1987 when winning four of the five trophies. On this occasion, however, their bid for three pennants culminated in a lone victory in the Barton Shield last Thursday.

Even the big double eluded them against a Portmarnock side admirably geared for battle. They travelled north to play the course twice last weekend and then had a further practice round on Thursday. And they were guided by an astute captain in former international Brendan Cashell.

"The closest I came to winning a Senior Cup medal was in 1978 when we lost in the final at Royal Portrush," he said. "Now I'm going to have wonderful Senior Cup memories from the performances of these guys."

Given that Fox played beautifully into the wind, there was a certain irony to his most crucial win coming on the long 15th. Facing the elements, he was forced to take a penalty-drop from bushes but went on to win the hole with a six after Warrenpoint's Paul Reavey was in trouble off the tee and again from his approach shot.

Another crucial point came from John Greene, who went three-up on Colm Campbell with a four-iron to one inch at the 182-yard 14th. Four-under for the 16 holes played, the 25-year-old South of Ireland champion from Carlow recently graduated from being a university member of Portmarnock.

In the final of the Jimmy Brien Shield, Claremorris secured their first national pennant with a 3-2 win over Forrest Little in a tense final. Victory by the westerners became all the more creditable in view of their opponents' semi-final success against a fancied Warrenpoint line-up on Friday.

Ger Noone and Martin Higgins, who had birdied the 19th in a semi-final win over Faithlegg, were again the heroes for Claremorris. This time they held on grimly to secure victory on the long 17th which they halved in bogey.

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