Stone duo swing it for class Clontarf
THE family that plays golf together ... wins together. At least that was how events transpired for the Stone clan of Clontarf and the O'Donovans of Bandon in the Bulmers GUI Cups and Shields finals at Castlebar Golf Club on Saturday.
It's hard enough for an individual to feature on an All-Ireland winning team, but for father and son pairings to succeed at the highest level of club amateur golf in this country is truly remarkable.
Take a bow dad Sean and son Conor Stone, who helped Clontarf to win the Jimmy Bruen Shield for the second time in three years.
Sean and 15-year-old Conor only lost once during the Bruen campaign, and they proved unbeatable in the semi-final against Carrick-on-Suir and Saturday's final against Ulster champions Tandragee.
The point they earned with a win at the 20th against Gordon Haire and Johnny Quinn got the North Dublin team off to a great start and Clontarf went on to beat Tandragee by 3.5 to 1.5.
Ray Maguire and Adam Burke, and Paul McLoughlin and Paul Kealy contributed two more points, while 'Lord of the Dance' dancer Paul O'Brien and Tony Duffy gained a half against Ross Dutton and Stefan McNeill.
Stefan Greenberg and Mark Bannerman, with a 3-2 win over Dave Cameron and Mark O'Flynn, were the only Tandragee pairing to win a point.
Incidentally, Alan Stone, another son of Sean's, and Graham Fahy also played their part in the campaign, as did ex-Dublin star Bobby Doyle and Frank Kellett Jnr.
Stephen Kealy, son of Paul, was caddying for Adam Burke, so it was a real family day out for Clontarf members.
Team manager Dave Dalton and his assistant Liam O'Donohue were delighted.
"We waited over 90 years for a green pennant, and all of a sudden, just like a bus, two come along almost together. It's fantastic," said Dalton.
As for Bandon, managed by Denis O'Brien, the tears were flowing as the Cork club won its first Irish Senior Cup title by defeating Lurgan 4-1.
Brian O'Donovan (23), who was playing his last match in amateur golf before starting PGA training, set the tone with a 4&3 verdict over Francie Tallon in the top match.
His father Donie (52), who had played in Bandon's 1978 team which won the Munster Barton Shield, clinched the match by beating James Horan 4&2.
And in between, Kieran Hurley claimed a crucial point, while Dave McCarthy and Dwayne Twomey's matches were called in.
Donie O'Donovan still has vivid memories of the 1978 Barton Shield campaign, but the Senior Cup victory represents a monumental achievement.
"It's been a long haul. It's hard to describe the emotions, and hard to believe it was 32 years ago when we were in the Barton Shield semi-finals.
"But to win a Senior Cup -- it's the Holy Grail for us.
"We never got out of Cork county before in the Senior Cup, never mind win an All-Ireland, so it's beyond belief.
"This team has put in a tremendous amount of work, all the players, and I suppose that it was the last round of amateur golf for my son makes it even more important," said O'Donovan.
Clontarf and Bandon had the assistance and support of their respective club professionals Eamonn Brady and Paddy O'Boyle. Both men are former Irish internationals.
Castlebar's course staff were magnificent in managing to keep play going through the torrential rain of the morning.