Ivan Morris - The voice of Limerick Golf
Patrick Sarsfield's famous battle cry: "Remember Limerick!" will apply in the Kilkenny household of the illustrious golfing Power dynasty henceforth. One could go a little further and say: How could they ever forget Limerick?
No matter what future golfing success lies ahead for Mark Power (and some say that he is statistically the equal of Rory McIlroy at the same age) what transpired and how it happened on Castletroy's famous 18th hole - one of the best finishing par-4s on any golf course in Ireland - won't ever be forgotten by him or those who witnessed it.
Dermot Cross, who is over 50-years a member, exclaimed: "I have never seen a two at that hole before - never even heard of anyone having a two there. To do it on the final hole of play off for a national title is something else!"
Only a minute prior to 'the shot' being fired I had met veteran Castletroy member, Frank Daly, on the 18th fairway who told me he had come up from his holidays in Ballybunion especially 'to walk the course and follow every shot. I would do it all again too.
There has been absolutely nothing between these young golfing ambassadors from first to last. It has been nip and tuck all the way; spellbinding and so tight between them".
When Frank said: "It's impossible to say what will happen next." It didn't take long to find out exactly what he meant.
Almost, as he finished speaking the England's Jack Cope struck a beautiful short iron shot that rode on the wind to within 15-feet of the hole. Without a hint of wavering, Power pulled out one of his trusty wedges, aimed directly at the flag and let fly.
His ball landed four feet past the hole, hopped up in the air and spun backwards into the hole like a snooker shot with 'side'. Incredible stuff!
In delight, young Power spontaneously threw his club up the air and before it hit the ground he was surrounded by at least a dozen delirious supporters and fellow-competitors, some of whom had run from quite a distance away to begin pummeling him on the back and sharing in as joyful a moment as I have ever witnessed on a golf course.
I was close enough to the action to catch the winner's eye and shout: Club and distance, Mark? "52/129!" He shouted back with a broad grin on his beaming face.
The 18th hole at Castletroy has seen many exciting moments but nothing to match this! Mark Power has become the first player since Paul Dunne a decade ago to win back-to-back Irish Boys Championships but he did it with the memory of a lifetime. A 5-under par total for the marathon 72-holes had failed to separate Power and English visitor, Jack Cope meaning that a three-hole playoff was required to decide.
Returning to the 16th, Power struck the first blow with a well played birdie four - thanks to a towering 6-iron second shot to the elevated, shelf green. Cope missed the green, fluffed a difficult chip and made a sloppy, bogey six.
Power found tree and bunker trouble on the 17th while Cope recorded a superb birdie; even Stephen again! Two exceptional, arrow-straight, drives in excess of 300-yards down the 18th set up the fairytale finish.
No local golfers were in serious contention but Morgan Hanley and Ross Fitzgerald (Limerick GC) confirmed their growing reputations by being among only five Munster boys to make it past the 54-hole cut and complete the 72-holes; an achievement in itself.
That's only part of the story. There were overseas competitors from England, France, Germany, Turkey, Netherlands, Slovakia and Portugal. Paul McGinley, the Ryder Cup Captain was in attendance because his son, Killian, played (and very well too for 54-holes) Paul told me: "There is no amateur championship in England to match this for organisation and welcome.
The commitment of the members of Castletroy has been outstanding. They have done their club and Ireland proud." The manager of the England team, Jim Newton from Yorkshire, reiterated that statement.
Although disappointed 'his man' did not win, he was enthralled. Castletroy Club captain, Liam McDonnell expressed these sentiments: "We had over 70-members on various volunteer duties throughout the four days including 25 junior members between 12 and 15-years old. What an inspiring experience for those juniors!
Chief Marshall, John Murray and his able assistant, Eugene Hanrahan worked tirelessly from dawn until dusk; their contribution was not quantifiable. The positive feedback that I have personally received from so many visitors to Castletroy has been most gratifying.
"The good manners and behaviour of all of the boys was quite outstanding. None more so than a young man from Elm Park Golf Club in Dublin, Robert Galligan. I spotted Robert practicing on the putting green. He was using a mirror aid and club head tracking devices. Somewhat intrigued I moved closer in case I might learn something.
Then I noticed he was standing on a towel. Unable to contain my curiosity, I approached him and asked: What's with the towel? The answer stunned me but it is of great credit to whomever trained this young lad in etiquette and respect for the golf course. "I did not want to leave footmarks behind me on the green he said simply."
Bravo Robert Galligan! Bravo Castletroy! Bravo Mark Power!