Thursday 22 February 2018

Slattery's 100-foot putt seals incredible Junior victory for Ballybunion

Ballybunion’s hero Brian Slattery and team-mates (from left) Philip Byrne, Ronan Cross, Frank Geary and Adrian Walsh celebrate after their dramatic victory in the AIG Junior Cup at Carton House. Photo: Pat Cashman
Ballybunion’s hero Brian Slattery and team-mates (from left) Philip Byrne, Ronan Cross, Frank Geary and Adrian Walsh celebrate after their dramatic victory in the AIG Junior Cup at Carton House. Photo: Pat Cashman

Brian Keogh

Ballybunion's Brian Slattery holed an outrageous 100-foot par putt on the 17th to come back from the dead and give Ballybunion a dramatic 3-2 win over Grange in the AIG Junior Cup final at Carton House.

As defending champions Warrenpoint birdied the 16th twice in the space of 10 minutes to hand Galway their third successive AIG Barton Shield defeat by four holes, the Kerryman rallied from three down after eight to beat Jack Ward 2 and 1 and give the men from the Kingdom the title for the second time in five years.

Grange were looking good for their first Junior Cup win since 1946 when Kevin O'Meara won 6 and 5 in the top match and Graham McDonnell triumphed by 7 and 5 at No 3.

With Ward three up heading for the turn, a champagne moment looked imminent.

But Slattery (37) had other ideas, winning the ninth with a birdie, the 10th and 13th in par and the 14th with another birdie to go one up.

With Ballybunion's Frank Geary Jr and Adrian Walsh beating Paul McNiff and Niall McCormick by 3 and 2 respectively to make it 2-2, it all came down to Slattery and Ward in the final match. It didn't disappoint.

Slattery applied pressure by finding the heart of the par-three 16th and when Ward came up short in the water, he was two up with two to go and only needed a half to clinch the title for Ballybunion.

He added to the drama by almost losing his tee shot in the deep fescue right of the par-five 17th.

But after his ball was found with only a minute of the search remaining, he hacked out (hitting his opponent's caddie's car) and eventually ended up 30 yards short of the green in four with Ward facing a short putt for par.

Electing the putter on the advice of his father Brendan, who was caddying, Slattery duly rapped home his putt and was mobbed by his team-mates.

"By the time tomorrow comes around it'll be 60 or 70 yards!" he said of the long-range missile that sank Grange. "I knew I at least had to get the putt close and make him putt.

"It could have hopped anywhere but about five or six feet out the boys behind me were roaring that it was in the hole. Thankfully, it went down."

Warrenpoint retained the AIG Barton Shield with a four-hole win over Galway, who have now lost three finals in a row, with both matches marked by decisive birdies on the 16th.

Joe Lyons and Luke O'Neill were just one down to Stephen Coulter and Paul Reavey playing the 16th when Ronan Mullarney holed a sensational pitch at the 15th for birdie alongside partner Liam Power to leave them just one down to Ryan Gribben and international Colm Campbell Jr.

The match was hanging in the balance and it tipped Warrenpoint's way on the treacherous, 180-yard par-three.

Pitch

"I had just seen Ronan pitch in against Collie and Ryan, and the putt was about 20 feet and I thought to myself, this would be a nice one to see go down," Reavey said of his putt.

Minutes later, Warrenpoint repeated the trick when Gribben hit a superb tee shot to eight feet and Campbell Jr duly sank the putt to restore their two-up lead.

Coulter then closed out the match and overall victory for Warrenpoint by lagging dead for par at the 17th, leaving Galway to look to the AIG Senior Cup for solace.

"I said it last year; there is no better feeling than winning as a club," Campbell Jr said. "It's a great feeling to pick up another All-Ireland gold medal."

In the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield, Tommy Quigley will be going for his third All-Ireland medal alongside his sons Shane and Stephen today when Thurles face Royal Curragh in the decider.

As Royal Curragh beat Moyola Park 3-2, the Tipperary men beat Portumna by the same scoreline with John Looby and Gerard Maguire decisively edging out Dan and Pádraig Hogan on the 19th.

Irish Independent

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