Ryan hails Thurles' fighting spirit as Quigley boys make it a family affair in Purcell triumph
Thurles skipper Jimmy Ryan hailed his team's do-or-die spirit after the Tipperary kingpins edged out Royal Curragh 3-2 in a thriller to lift the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield for the second time in three years at Carton House
The final was tantalisingly tied at 2-2 when Stephen Quigley and Martin Fahy came back from two down with six to play, making a gutsy five at the O'Meara Course's 18th to beat Brenny Murphy and Martin Dempsey by one hole.
On a day when Garth McGimpsey made a losing return to AIG Senior Cup action for Royal Portrush, 28 years after his last appearance, Thurles will now be hoping to become the first club to win the event three times running when they host next year's Cups and Shields Finals.
"I'm still not right, my heart is thumping at 100 to the gallon at the moment," said Ryan with a grin after Fahy pitched to 30 feet and Quigley lagged the putt to gimme distance before watching Murphy miss a five-footer that would have taken the final up the 19th. "We were dead and buried for a long time but these boys, their battling qualities are something else. They know nothing else but battle, battle all day long, and they proved it in the semi-final as well.
"I'm just delighted. It means a lot to Thurles because we're hosting the competition next year. It means an awful lot to the club, and it's great to be going back as All-Ireland champions. The only thing in Tipperary that came back this year!"
The win meant a third AIG Purcell Shield success for the club and for 1997 winner Tommy Quigley, who partnered son Shane to victory in the top match before watching his other son, Stephen, play a major role in the title-winning final pairing.
"This is what it's all about. I am stuck at work all day, driving a forklift for Bord Na Móna," said Quigley Snr (59). "So it's lovely to have a bunch of lads and go away to play golf. You never get a father and a couple of sons playing on the same team. There are very few games where you can do that."
In the AIG Senior Cup, Galway will have an opportunity to ease the pain of their third successive Barton Shield defeat on Thursday when they face Limerick in the AIG Senior Cup final.
The Connacht champions beat Royal Portrush 3.5-1.5 as Limerick crushed Carton House's hopes of a home win when Ciaran Vaughan beat Sean O'Connor by two holes to secure a 3-2 victory.
Unhappy Fourteen-time championship winner McGimpsey (62), was making his first Senior Cup appearance since Woodbrook in 1989. But it was an unhappy return as he lost 3 and 2 to Liam Nolan as Joe Lyons' one-hole win over Matt McAlpin got Galway over the line.
"I think I will be involved next year, but I probably won't be playing," McGimpsey said. "There are two or three young kids who could be in the squad, Tyrone Clarke being one of them. He's a very good player."
Lyons feared his troops would struggle to recover from their Barton Shield loss to Warrenpoint but now believes they can go all the way.
"Nothing less than a win tomorrow will sate the appetite at this stage now," Lyons said. "If we'd have played in the Barton Shield final as we played in the semi-final we'd have run away with it. So if we turn up for the final we'll take some beating."
Vaughan (18) holed a 15-footer for a crucial half at the 16th, then won the last two holes to put himself in position to match his father, Ger, as a Senior Cup winner today.
"My dad is team captain, and he was part of the team that won our last Senior Cup in 2002," Vaughan said. "So it would be pretty special to get the win with him as team captain."
In the Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals, Warrenpoint beat Mountrath 3.5-1.5 as Castlebar's Tom Moylett and Mark Corrigan birdied the 19th in the decisive match to give them a 3-2 win over Ballykisteen.