John Manning looks back on the Gents events in Leinster and Munster which saw proceedings curtailed in the eastern province due to water logging on the greens on Saturday meaning the Intermediate and Junior events had to be called off.
An outstanding singles performance catapulted Wexford to a first ever win in the Leinster Inter-County championship at Royal Meath. A round dozen shots behind on 17 under par 145 after the morning Scotch Foursomes, the Slaneysiders fired a cumulative 40 under par in the Singles to progress from seventh starting out to top spot at the close of play.
Paul Tobin, who played alongside Martin O’Neill on Wexford’s 2012 National Inter-County winning side, led the way with an inspirational 43. Tobin was ably supported by 2016 National Matchplay runner-up Dayle Donohoe on 46. Dean Grannell, who teamed-up with Tobin on Wexford’s 2006 National Juvenile Inter-County winning quintet, and Jim Foley (a member of the Yellow Bellies’ 1997 second tier national winning team 22 years ago) weighed-in with matching 47’s. 2017 Leinster Strokeplay Champion Martin O'Neill posted 48 and Richard Grannell (a Leinster Juvenile Inter-County winner in 2004) shooting 53.
Wexford’s previous best in this Championship was a second place finish at St. Bridgets in 2016 (when O’Neill, Tobin and Dean Grannell also played) as they posted an overall tally of 429, which was good enough for a five stroke winning margin over Down and Dublin. The Mournesiders secured the silver medals on the back nine tiebreaker (212 to 216), denying holders Dublin who were seeking a three-in-a-row. Royal Meath has certainly been a happy hunting ground in the Leinster Inter-County for Down as it was also at the superb Clonee setting in 1999 that they claimed their solitary title win.
Conor O'Hare who scored 50 in the Singles and Michael Greene (47) are survivors from that landmark success. Niall Quigley, a Leinster Juvenile Inter-County Runner-Up in the Red and Black in 2006, matched Greene’s 47 while Colin Somers, once a winner in this Championship with Meath and three times a Runner-Up with the Royals, signed for a valuable 48. 49 was posted by 2017 National O-55 Intermediate grade Strokeplay Champion Ronan Hollywood while 2014 Provincial Strokeplay Runner-Up Liam McMahon contributed 53.
First and second for effectively two one-club counties represents a significant provincial milestone. Meath led after the Scotch Foursomes with a phenomenal -29 but would only shoot a combined -17 in the Singles to finish on -46.
On a profitable weekend for the Premier County at Hillview overall, Tipperary Senior Gents dominated their Championship from start to finish. 11 strokes clear after the Scotch Foursomes on 128 (-34), the men in the Blue & Gold tacked on another 38 under in the singles to finish 12 strokes clear of perennial favourites Cork.
Stephen Shoer and Michael Fennell provided a solid base with their 47 and two stupendous scores emphasised Tipp superiority on the day. A couple of relative newcomers, Stephen O’Reilly and Paul Sweeney, combined for a 41 while old hands Anthony Culhane and James Cleary went one better with 40.
The win secured a first win in this Championship since millennium year for the Premier County as Irish international Cleary (who helped Ireland to last year’s European Team championship) served as a link to that 2000 winning Tipperary quintet. Holders Limerick were third on 441 as Cork were five shots better in finishing second on 436, John Cahill, Stephen Shoer and Limerick’s Tommy Hanley all shot 10 under. but the best Singles score went to Eddie Hennessy of Waterford with 11 under.
Tipp’s Junior Gents came from behind to win on Saturday meanwhile. Cork and Limerick jointly led the way by four following the Scotch Foursomes play but three sub-par returns buttressed Tipperary’s singles tally and their overall total of 488 gave them two to spare over runners-up Limerick with Cork third another four shots back.
Reigning Munster Matchplay Champion Daniel Ryan led the way in the Singles for Tipperary with a talismanic 48. Sean Crowe and Michael Butler delivered matching 52s. Michael O’Donoghue and Ken Hayes were both round in 56 while Ger Tuite scored 66.
Cork’s Intermediates redressed the balance somewhat for the other counties with a seven shot victory in the Intermediate championship. Matters were delicately balanced after the foursomes with the Leesiders earning a narrow one stroke advantage over the home county, -18 to -17. Tipperary’s cause was helped in no small measure by a 45 from the father/son partnership of Sean and John Minogue.
With a strong Fermoy club influence running through the spine of their team, Cork’s 16 under singles count saw them over the line. Dylan Seymour’s 48 was key as were the three 52’s fired by Dylan’s Fermoy club-mates Keith Power, JJ Quirke and Keith Power. Another man with Fermoy connections, Jimmy Quinn (Collins), returned 54 while Douglas’ Ronan O’Driscoll added a vital 50.
Honourable mention must be made of third-placed Limerick’s best of the championship 18 under par singles return, Che Maher and John Farrell both shooting -7.
Tomorrow: Declan Sheedy looks at the Ladies events in both provinces.
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