Tuesday 12 December 2017

Shield of dreams

Lyons looks to make amends as Tribesmen hunt for Barton glory in their Carton House showdown

Joe Lyons and Cathal Nolan of Galway after wining the AIG Barton Shield Final, part of the AIG Connacht Cups & Shields Finals 2016 at Ballinrobe Golf Club, Ballinrobe Co. Mayo on Friday 5th August 2016. Photo: Golffile/Thos Caffrey
Joe Lyons and Cathal Nolan of Galway after wining the AIG Barton Shield Final, part of the AIG Connacht Cups & Shields Finals 2016 at Ballinrobe Golf Club, Ballinrobe Co. Mayo on Friday 5th August 2016. Photo: Golffile/Thos Caffrey

Brian Keogh

Joe Lyons is hoping that Galway's course management skills will overcome the bombers when they chase AIG Barton Shield glory at Carton House next month.

Ronan Mullarney completed a dream week at Ballinrobe when he helped Galway romp to a clear-cut victory over Galway Bay in the Connacht final of the premier foursomes competition.

However, with Galway disappointingly losing to County Sligo in Sunday's Senior Cup final, Lyons is desperately hoping the Tribesman can pull off a win, even if they face a big-hitting side like Carton House, the home club, in the All Ireland semi-finals next month.

A win is certainly all that will ease Lyons' disappointment after he lost the decisive singles in the Connacht final of the AIG Senior Cup to County Sligo.

"I had a complete collapse in the Senior Cup final on Sunday, finishing 7-6 to lose on 18 in the deciding match," said Lyons, whose defeat to Ruairi O'Connor was particularly hard to take.

"The loss took a little bit of the gloss off the Barton Shield because we really wanted to be at Carton House for the AIG Senior Cup, too, having won it in 2006 and 2009.

"I actually played quite well for the first 16 holes against Ruairi, but that's the way it goes. He holed a few long putts at the right time and conditions were difficult - a 30mph wind and torrential rain."

Read more: Castlebar's never say die spirit is key to win

A poor wedge followed by a three-putt at the last proved fatal for Lyons, but the 44-year old former West of Ireland champion is a true sportsman and is focussing on trying to help Galway to what would be his second Barton Shield success with the club since 2007.

While his partner Cathal Nolan will be unavailable for the AIG All Ireland Finals at Carton House from September 14 to 17, Lyons is confident that Galway have the strength in depth to go all the way, with the outstanding Mullarney in sensational form.

Just a few days after making his individual breakthrough by winning the prestigious Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy by five strokes, the 20-year old Maynooth University star teamed up with teenager Liam Power to beat Eddie McCormack and Jack Tuohy by seven holes.

Having beaten Portumna by 11 holes in their morning semi-final, Galway went two holes better in the afternoon in defeating Galway Bay by 13 holes, with Lyons and Nolan beating Damien and Declan Glynn by six holes.

"Ronan and Liam turned on the fireworks and had eight birdies in the final against Galway Bay, beating a quality pair in Eddie and Jack.

"Myself and Cathal were steady down the back nine with all pars and one birdie. It's great that we have Ronan for the Barton Shield because we didn't have him in the Senior Cup, but with Cathal Nolan possibly unavailable, that will be a blow to us.

"Cathal has become a really good player - he did very well for Connacht in the Interpros - but if he is not able to play there are quite a few players who could come in, from his young brother Liam to Mike Hennelly, Stephen Brady, Colm Hughes or Sean Burke. Any of those guys would be excellent.

"I am the elder lemon on the team by a long way at 44 and my work with Premier Irish Golf Tours is taking up more and more of my time. But we have some experience in the team because Ronan won the AIG Irish Senior Cup with Maynooth last year and he's just won the Mullingar Scratch Cup."

Lyons fears that his modest hitting Galway team will find Carton House's O'Meara Course better suited to the longer hitting teams.

"We came up against Royal Dublin in the All Ireland final last year and we really didn't show up on the day," he said.

"They thrashed us and that's partly because the course is wide open and suits bombers.

"We have a shorter hitting team and while a player like Ronan is competitive on any golf course, it would be more advantageous to us if we were on a shorter golf course.

"Carton will be very strong with the likes of Gary McDermott and Paul O'Hanlon in their team so it will be tough. But we are up for it."

With Galway and Carton House through, the Munster finals take place this Saturday with Tralee taking on Tramore and Limerick facing Cork in the other semi-final.

The Ulster finals take place at Portstewart on August 21 with Castlerock meeting Warrenpoint and Knock facing North West.

AIG Barton Shield

Connacht final

Galway Bay lost to Galway by 13 Holes (Galway Bay Names first)

Eddie McCormack & Jack Tuohy lost to Ronan Mullarney & Liam Power by 7 Holes; Damien Glynn & Declan Glynn lost to Joe Lyons & Cathal Nolan by 6 Holes.


Enniscrone lost to Galway Bay by 4 Holes.

(Enniscrone Names first) Derek Basquill & Randal Evans lost to Damien Glynn & Declan Glynn by 1 Hole; Charles McGoldrick & Jonathan Doherty lost to Eddie McCormack & Jack Tuohy by 3 Holes/

Portumna lost to Galway by 11 Holes

(Portumna Names first)

John Cleary & Michael Flanagan lost to Ronan Mullarney & Liam Power by 5 Holes;

James P. McLaughlin & Damien Burke lost to Joe Lyons & Cathal Nolan by 6 Holes.

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