THE anxiety, the anticipation, the nervous excitement, the desire to win, the palpable tension of the golfers and their supporters that is a constant feature of all GUI Irish Cups & Shields Matches was fully in evidence at Newcastle West Golf Club last weekend.
Both Castletroy GC and Limerick GC won much sought after, Munster Pennants in the GUI Junior Foursomes and Fred Daly Trophy competitions respectively after two 'couldn't be closer, tensest of tense' battles that went to tie holes before the results eventually emerged with the suddenness of a gunshot.
Suffice to say that both local clubs 'escaped the flying bullets' and have qualified to represent the province later this month.
Castletroy will be in action at Clonmel GC on Tuesday, August 16th at 8.20am against the Ulster champions, Belvoir Park, whereas Limerick will face a daunting task against the holders, Kilkenny GC in their All-Ireland Fred Daly Trophy semi-final at Galway GC, Salthill on August 23rd at 8am.
The other semi-finalist are Rory McIlroy's club, Holywood GC (Ulster) and 'Daly specialists from Connacht,' Athenry GC who will be playing each other in the other semi-final.
In the Junior Foursomes Castletroy demonstrated tremendous resolve in overcoming Blarney GC by one hole in the morning and re-hot favourites, Mallow, in the afternoon.
Semi-Final: Castletroy beat Blarney by 1 hole. Michael Kitt & Adam Myers beat Jonathan Scannell & Darragh Murphy by 4 holes. Dara Neville & Niall O’Brien lost to Darren Kelliher and Daniel Murphy by 3 holes.
Mallow needed an additional hole to get past Cahir Park in the other semi-final.
The final also went to the 19th. Mallow, conceding 11-shots between the two pairings fought back as their greater experience at this level came into play. From being four down with five cumulative holes to play and in spite of conceding a stroke on the 18th hole, Ronan Feerick and Jack Dillon (Mallow) held onto their precious one-hole advantage.
From 4-down and 3-to go in the second match the Mallow pairing of Roy Whelan and Daniel O’Sullivan won the last three holes, sending the match into extra holes.
A brilliant birdie fashioned by a deadly accurate wedge approach by Castletroy’s Dara Neville, 'converted' into a delicious birdie by a nerveless Niall O’Brien - brilliant, deadly and delicious!
GUI Junior Foursomes Munster Final: Castletroy beat Mallow at 19th Hole: Michael Kitt & Adam Myers lost to Jack Dilllon & Ronan Feerick by 1 hole. Dara Neville & Niall O’Brien beat Roy Whelan and Daniel O’Sullivan by 2-up at 19th hole.
LIMERICK surprised many by the manner in which they defeated last year's provincial champions, Mallow, in the Fred Daly semi-final.
There were powerful and impressive displays of determined golf by Ciaran Vaughan, Sean Enright, Luke O'Brien and Ross Fitzgerald. Morgan Hanley wasn't sharp in the morning but he made up for it in the afternoon when winning by 5/4.
Fred Daly Trophy Munster Semi-Finals - Limerick 3.5-1.5 Mallow: Ciaran Vaughan halved with Adam Boland (called in); Sean Enright beat Greg Barrett by 3&2; Morgan Hanley lost to Edward Walsh by 4&3; Luke O’Brien beat Liam Dowling by 3&2; Ross Fitzgerald beat Daniel O’Sullivan 3&2.
IN spite of winning the top two matches, Ballybunion had the disappointment of losing in the first semi-final.
Ronan Cross's 3/2 margin over the formidable and impressive boy's international, Andrew Mulhall, did not receive the necessary back up from the tail enders. Waterford Castle 3-2 Ballybunion - Andrew Mulhall lost to Ronan Cross by 3&2; Ryan O’Connor lost to Iarla O’Mahony by 2&1; Jack Power beat Jordan Ryan at 19th; Jody Walsh beat Philip Byrne by 4&3; Brian Sheridan beat Tom McKeon by 3&1.
In the final, Limerick appeared to be heading for an early victory with all matches deep into the back nine. They were 4-up in one match and 5-up in two others. Two of those matches were duly finished off on the 16th but Ross Fitzgerald received a nasty lesson in the value of 'golf momentum' when he played the 13th and 14th sloppily giving his opponent the heart and means of escaping the guillotine.
Amid growing tension and seesaw emotions depending on which side you were on, Brian Sheridan (Waterford Castle) bravely holed two medium distance putts on the 17th and 18th to bring the match down the 19th.
Fitzgerald recovered his shattered composure while walking from the 18th green to the 19th tee and he hit a magnificent tee shot that proved crucial.
Essentially, he won the hole with that one shot because the unfortunate Mallow lad sprayed one ball to the left and another to the right into no-man's land before Fitzgerald played a cautious of second shot, quickly followed the concession.
Fred Daly - Munster Final - Limerick 3-2 Waterford Castle: Sean Enright lost to Andrew Mulhall by 4&2; Ciaran Vaughan beat Ryan O’Connor by 4&2; Luke O’Brien lost to Jack Power by 5&4; Morgan Hanley beat Jody Walsh by 5&4; Ross Fitzgerald beat Brian Sheridan at 19th hole.
THERE was one sour note. In its wisdom the host club decided to run an intermediate scratch cup in the middle of the day creating a two and a half hour gap between rounds; not convenient for the travelling supporters or players.
Instructing players to take their time and slow down because they would catch the players ahead is surely a golfing no-no – more often one has to tell them to hurry up!