| 26.5°C Dublin

New star Hill passes rigorous Mullingar test

Classic 72-hole test identifies Joshua Hill as potential successor to McIlroy, Clarke, Harrington and Lowry

Close

Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

A lot can happen in two weeks but what looked like being an early fortnight turned out to be the best of his life for Galgorm Castle’s Joshua Hill.

On August 21, he waltzed around Lahinch in 10-under par 62 to win the silver medal as the leading qualifier in the 120th South of Ireland.

Of course, he was beaten in the first round in Co Clare by Westport’s Harry Gillivan, who turned out to be the only man who could keep pace with the dynamic young Ballymena man over the first 36 holes of the 60th Mullingar Scratch Trophy, sponsored again this year by Sherry Fitzgerald Davitt & Davitt and Pinergy.

Hill, who has twice played for Great Britain and Ireland in the Jacques Léglise Trophy, soon left Gillivan in his exhaust fumes as he carded a third round 66 to go into the afternoon’s final round with a five-stroke lead over Connemara’s Luke O’Neill, his former GB&I team teammate, on 14-under par.

It looked all over, but by the time he stood on the 14th tee in the afternoon, dripping wet, Hill had made just one birdie against five bogeys and two double-bogeys. He’d also lost a ball in a tree at the 12th and driven out of bounds by millimetres on the 13th. In short, he was one behind O’Neill and with every reason to panic.

What followed next will go down as one of the great finishes in the history of one of Irish golf’s most beloved events, and who knows, perhaps it will stand to an up-and-coming player, 19 on Saturday, who will join the University of South Alabama in August 2023 with big dreams for the future.

Even for someone accustomed to seeing new faces with each passing year, this year’s Mullingar Scratch Trophy looked like a changing of the guard, given the kaleidoscope of new faces on show.

Sport Newsletter

Get the best analysis and comment from our award-winning team of writers and columnists with our free newsletter.

This field is required

In the end, Hill steadied himself and birdied the last two holes to win – slotting in a 35-footer with about 10 feet of break at the always treacherous 17th before getting up and down from a downslope in a swale for his four at the 18th.

It was a chip worthy of Seve’s Open Championship clincher at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1988, given the antics of the chasing pack in the final hour.

Royal Dublin’s Max Kennedy, another future star, had started the final round 13 strokes behind on one-under.

But as Hill shot 78, the University of Louisville star turned in one-under in the incessant rain, then birdied the 12th and 14th to get within two of the lead before finishing birdie-birdie-birdie for a 66 that was only good enough for a share of the clubhouse lead.

He was playing with Roscommon’s Allan Hill and Portmarnock’s Brandon St John, and the latter eagled the 18th from eight feet to also post seven-under.

That Joshua Hill birdied the last to win with a 78 said it all about the difficulty of the conditions and the pressure of trying to win a title with a prestige that is only just below the principal men’s Championships.

While his six-over par closing round was the highest by a winner in the history of a tournament first played in 1963, it was also the 11th time the winner has had to dip for the line with an over-par round, starting with JB Carr, who shot 75 to win the inaugural event by two shots from 17-year-old Scot Finlay Morris and Malahide’s Tom Craddock in 1963.

“At least I know when I get down to the end of it, I have it in me,” Hill said at the finish in the dry of the Mullingar clubhouse where Castlerea’s Rupert de Lacy Staunton, who had finished eighth in the first Mullingar Scratch Cup in 1963, was chatting with Mullingar’s Albert Lee, one of the key men behind the event’s continued relevance over the past three decades or more.

“It means an awful lot to the members,” said the club’s men’s captain, Dave Farrelly. “We are very proud of it. If you look at the hall on the way in, we have the pictures of the previous winners – Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke...

“It’s a Hall of Fame of Major winners and Ryder Cup captains, and we have an enormous sense of pride about it. When I joined the club in the early 2000s, one of the first things that was talked about was the Scratch Cup. Now that Golf Ireland has come on board, it’s a big part of the Bridgestone rankings, and that’s enhanced the prestige of the competition, and it’s become more attractive for the top players to come and play in it. And it will remain a huge event for the club.”

Like his fellow champions, even the Major winners, Hill will remember his win forever more. After all, when the 50th-anniversary event was played in 2012, a host of former winners turned out for a special celebration event the month before.

They included the 1972 champion Des Smyth and 1995 winner Gary Murphy as well as ex-tour players John McHenry (1986) and Raymie Burns (1992) and former Amateur champion and Walker Cup star Garth McGimpsey (1985), to name just some of the 21 past winners to tee it up.

Mullingar leaves a mark on those who pass the test.

Mullingar Scratch Trophy
Sponsored by Sherry Fitzgerald Davitt & Davitt and Pinergy
Mullingar GC (Par 72)

280 J Hill (Galgorm Castle) 66 70 66 78;
281 M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 74 66 75 66, B St. John (Portmarnock) 73 67 73 68;
282 L O’Neill (Connemara) 70 69 68 75;
284 P Conroy (Enniscorthy) 73 69 74 68, R Latimer (Clandeboye) 69 74 66 75;
285 L Abom (Edmondstown) 72 71 71 71, J Rackard (Enniscorthy) 69 72 70 74;
286 J Hewitt (Tandragee) 73 69 74 70, T Ford (Co. Sligo) 70 71 70 75, R Cannon (Balbriggan) 66 77 69 74;
287 A Fahy (Bray) 71 68 74 74, W Small (Tandragee) 71 68 74 74, R Griffin (Ballybofey & Stranorlar) 69 72 73 73;
288 T Higgins (Roscommon) 75 70 73 70, T Dowdall (Woodbrook) 72 73 74 69, J Doherty (Carton House) 69 74 69 76;
289 D Kitt (Athenry) 75 70 72 72, S Desmond (Monkstown) 72 72 71 74, C Harkin (Letterkenny) 69 73 72 75, Q Carew (Castleknock) 68 73 72 76, R Milne (Faithlegg) 68 71 77 73;
290 A Hill (Roscommon) 72 69 76 73, D Morgan (Carton House) 71 76 72 71, G Dunne (Co. Louth) 71 70 73 76;
291 P McGrath (Galway Bay) 74 72 72 73, J McCabe (Roganstown) 74 70 72 75, A Grant (Dundalk) 73 74 73 71, A Smith (Mullingar) 70 75 74 72, J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 70 72 75 74;
292 E Sullivan (Carton House) 72 72 74 74, D Flynn (Carton House) 69 74 71 78;
293 D O’Riordan (Fermoy) 74 72 74 73, S Carroll (Ballybunion) 73 70 72 78, H Gillivan (Westport) 68 68 75 82;
294 J Butler (Killeen) 74 71 75 74, C Butler (Kinsale) 71 72 77 74;
295 S O’Brien (Nenagh) 73 73 75 74, J McCarthy (Grange) 72 72 74 77;
296 M O’Sullivan (Ballyneety) 76 72 74 74, M Boucher (Carton House) 76 72 73 75, C Hickey (Dooks) 76 71 73 76, J Whelan (Grange) 76 70 71 79, R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 76 69 76 75, S O’Connell (Athenry) 74 74 76 72, D Muldowney (Carton House) 73 70 76 77, D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 71 76 70 79;
297 S Cunningham (Esker Hills) 72 72 74 79;
298 I O’Connell (Castleknock) 70 71 80 77;
300 A Kiernan (Forrest Little) 72 72 74 82;
RTD 146 P O’Hanlon (Carton House) 74 72.
Missed cut
148 S O’Connell (Athenry) 74 74, S Walker (Roscommon) 73 75, A Kelly (New Forest) 72 76, R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 71 77; 149 S O Neill (Slieve Russell) 78 71, L Lynch (Naas) 76 73, T Abom (Edmondstown) 76 73, S McLoughlin (Co. Sligo) 74 75, A Marshall (Lisburn) 73 76, L Cunningham (Galway Bay) 73 76;150 R Galligan (Elm Park) 78 72, C Ryan (Bray) 77 73, S Mc Dermott (Slieve Russell) 77 73, J Brimfield (Governors Club Chapel Hill NC USA) 75 75, S O’Rourke (Tulfarris) 75 75; 151 K Murphy (Arklow) 77 74, A McCabe (The Links Portmarnock) 76 75, K McCarron (North West) 75 76, P Coughlan (Castleknock) 75 76, S Flanagan (Portmarnock) 73 78, K Egan (Carton House) 73 78, C Denvir (Elm Park) 72 79; 152 J Boles (Charleville) 75 77, S Murphy (Portumna) 74 78, R Kennelly (Castleknock) 73 79, J Byrne (Baltinglass) 72 80; 153 T Plunkett (Crover House) 80 73, D Shiel (Powerscourt) 78 75, E Farrell (Ardee) 76 77; 154 C Johnston (Dundalk) 77 77, D Keating (Seapoint) 74 80; 156 E Monaghan (Tullamore) 78 78; 157 K Robinson (Castlewarden) 79 78, P Davitt (Mullingar) 76 81; 159 M Mina Ronayne (Mullingar) 81 78, J Cleary (Elm Park) 75 84; 163 D Hill (Roscommon) 82 81;
164 S Mc Dermott (Esker Hills) 79 85;
WD 82 A Collins (Laytown & Bettystown)


Top Videos






Privacy