Spanish Point make their mark
SPANISH Point's team of bravehearts belied the club's minnow status to claim a historic Pierce Purcell Shield victory in the AIG Cups and Shields finals at Royal Tara.
Whatever magic ingredient is working for Clare sport this year has rubbed off on the Spanish Point golfers, who defeated Mayo's Claremorris 4-1 in the final yesterday.
The nine-hole layout in west Clare, founded in 1896, has just 159 male members, and weekly competitions attract between 20-30 entrants.
Never before had Spanish Point won a Munster pennant, but now the club can boast a national title as well as provincial honours.
The recipe for success was a firm commitment by a dedicated group of golfers who have made a huge effort since the start of the year.
Family connections were also a feature of the winning team. Former Clare footballer and current Kilmurry-Ibrickane player Evan Talty and his cousin Micheal were on the winning team.
The Hehir brothers Mervin, Micheal and Fergal also featured, as did Anthony Garrihy, Aidan Sexton, Stephen Guilfoyle, Conor O'Loughlin and Kevin Hynes.
Club captain Eoghan O'Loughlin was the manager. This was his second time as a Pierce Purcell-winning team boss, as he skippered Woodstock GC to glory two years ago.
For Talty, the victory was a welcome boost. Talty and the Kilmurry-Ibrickane players were knocked out of the Clare SFC by Eire Og on Sunday night, ending their three-in-a-row hopes. That was all forgotten yesterday.
"From being on a low, I've gone on a high, so it's great compensation," he said.
"We've put in massive work for this. You talk about football training, but every week without fail since February we've been doing trials, taking time out, doing overnights, practising on courses.
"At the end of the day you get out what you put into it, and we put a lot of hard work into it."
As for the pre-game tension, Talty was unequivocal in contrasting Croke Park with the occasion at Royal Tara.
"We (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) played in the All-Ireland club final a couple of years ago, and walking out on Croke Park is not a patch on the nerves you have on the first tee here," he said.
Meanwhile Senior Cup finalists Rosapenna chose an unusual motivation strategy for their semi-final against Carton House – they didn't book anywhere to stay for Friday night.
Rosapenna refused to tempt fate, so they were prepared to take their chances on finding accommodation if they beat Carton House.
They did the same last year before winning the All-Ireland Mixed title at Clontarf, and it worked out, so why change a winning formula?
But once they had defeated Carton House on a 3.5 to 1.5 scoreline, the Donegal men needed a B&B. However, they did much better as Conor Mallaghan, CEO of Carton House, sportingly supplied the Rosapenna team with the last six hotel rooms available at the Maynooth resort.
Meanwhile, County Sligo senior international Gary McDermott gave his side early momentum in their Senior Cup semi-final against Cork GC with a 6&4 win over Mark Ford.
Sligo hurling goalie Declan Reidy (19) and Connacht inter-pro Steffan O'Hara carved out a hard-fought 1-up result in each of their matches to see County Sligo safely into today's decider.
The other final on the schedule today is the Jimmy Bruen Shield final between Killorglin and Tandragee.
Killorglin survived a late scare when club captain Joe Kennedy and partner Darragh Carmody were three-down with four holes to play in the final match.
They turned it around, however, clawed their way back to tie holes and won on the 20th.
Joe Kennedy commented: "Drama, drama, and not for the first time this year. We held our nerve. I'd say it's the fourth time this year Darragh and myself went down the 19th, or 20th and it stood to us today."
AIG CUPS AND SHIELDS FINALS
At Royal Tara GC
Pierce Purcell Shield Final
Spanish Point 4 Claremorris 1: (Spanish Point names first) – A Garrihy & A Sexton bt D Costello & P Kenna 4/2; E Talty & Mervin Hehir halved with D Lambe & D Rattigan; Michael Hehir & F Hehir bt K McDonagh & Martin O'Brien 4&3; M Talty & S Guilfoyle bt M Conway & J Haverty 5&3; C O'Loughlin & K Hynes halved with M Monaghan & P Coyne.
Senior Cup semi-finals
Rosapenna 3 Carton House 1: M McDermott lost to S McGlynn 4&3; E Kennedy bt D Carey 21st; D Boyle bt N McGlynn 3&1; F Casey Jnr bt S O'Connor 6&4; P Kennedy halved with C Cunningham. Co Sligo 3 Cork 2: D Reidy bt I O'Flynn 1 hole; G McDermott bt M Ford 6&4; S Flanagan lost to G O'Flaherty 4&3; M Morrissey lost to E Murphy 5&4; S O'Hara bt J Hickey 1 hole.
Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals
Killorglin 3 Castlecomer 2: J Joy & D Bird lost to V Smyth & K Hovenden 2&1; K O'Sullivan & C Foley bt J Doheny & P Comerford 1 hole; R Kennedy & S Collins lost to T Coogan & P Campion 1 hole; M Ashe & J McCarthy bt S Kennedy & A Dempsey 4&3; J Kennedy & D Carmody bt D Breen & D Fogarty 20th.
Tandragee 4.5 Athlone 0.5:½S Burns & J Rowe bt T Gilhooly & M Evans 2&1; P Hedley & C Fearon bt C Rice & M Kelly 1 hole; G Haire & M Bannerman bt T Corry & G Kelly 2&1; W Jardine & W Small halved with C Quilty & M Ryan; E Nixon & J Quinn bt J Rice & D Rushe 3&2.
Senior Cup Final: Co Sligo v Rosapenna. (9.0): M Morrissey v D Boyce; (9.10): G McDermott v M McDermott; (9.20): S Flanagan v E Kennedy; (9.30): D Reidy v F Casey Jnr; (9.40): P Kennedy v Steffan O'Hara.
Jimmy Bruen Shield Final: Killorglin v Tandragee. (10.30): J Joy & D Byrd v S Burns & J Campbell; (10.40): K O'Sullivan & C Foley v P Headley & C Fearon; (10.50): R Kennedy & S Collins v G Haire & M Bannerman; (11.0): M Ashe & J McCarthy v J Forde
& B Fyffe; (11.10): J Kennedy & D Carmody v E Nixon & J Quinn.