AFTER waiting 12 years to reclaim the Day Cup, you could almost forgive John Walsh having to wait another four holes as he looked poised for victory in the Final against Damien Fleming at eight holes ahead with eight to play. Damien prolonged proceedings until the 15th hole before going down 5&3 but the Gents champion was appreciative of how hard he had to work in coming out on top in Parteen over the course of the last three days. “I was happy with how well I pitched all weekend and the greens were in excellent condition. I was here at Christmas and the difference in the course since then is phenomenal and a real credit to the club and the work they put in. I honestly didn’t expect to defeat Liam O’Donovan by as much as I did but Liam just didn’t perform on the day. Kieran Earls (who Walsh defeated in the Third Round) is a very good player and I thought he was very unlucky in the Catalan Open back in April. He has age on his side while the likes of me don’t unfortunately!”
Coming from one down with nine to play to defeat Derek Courtney in the quarter-finals was another big factor in Walsh’s success and said he wasn’t looking too far past his club-mate Chris Scannell in the semi-finals. “You have to respect a player like Chris with his ability, I managed to get a run of putts together and got a lucky bounce for the putt that put me 3up and I felt that was crucial,” he said. While he was dominant from start to finish in the decider against Damien he did get over the finishing line a little later than expected. “I didn’t realised the game was dormy eight until Damien mentioned it to me because I was so focussed on things hole-by-hole. Damien has won this before so he knows what can happen so you can’t ever really feel that you have won until it’s actually over,” Walsh said.
His success was a happy end to the Collins club after a sombre week that saw one of their most well-known members John Garrett pass away. “Anyone that knew him would tell you that he was a gentle giant. I’ve known him since I was playing Juvenile 30 years ago and I really would like to dedicate this win to him because he was a great clubman throughout his time,” he said of Garrett. The focus will soon shift to Stackallen for the National Strokeplay at the end of July but Walsh isn’t thinking that far ahead yet. “Stackallen is a similar course to Parteen in that you have to hit a very high ball there as well but there are a few more tournaments on the horizon before I can start to think about that.”
GENTS runner-up Damien Fleming was honest in his assessment of where it all went wrong for him in the Final. “I didn’t putt well enough to tell you the truth. I was happy with how I fought back in all my games to get to the Final but I could have easily been beaten along the way and the Back Nine in all my other matches was probably the winning of those games for me,” the 2011 winner said.
The Deerpark member admitted that he was punished in the Final for such form in the lead up. “You don’t give a player like John Walsh a start like I gave him. I did get a bit of a run towards the end but John deserves this to be fair because even though he has won Nationals before he was probably beginning to wonder would it ever happen for him again it’s been so long since his last one,” Damien said.
Looking ahead to further in the year, he is still confident that a potential major success is still there for him. “I feel like I’m going in the right direction even though I’m going to have to spend a lot of time on my putting in the coming weeks. I have to negotiate the Kerry Qualifiers in Castleisland first before I can even start to think about the National Strokeplay.”
THE delight at bridging a 27 wait for another National Singles title was all but evident in Breda Lonergan’s thoughts after her victory over Tara Dillon in the Ladies decider. However she had a special mention for a late club-mate of hers in Tipperary Hills. “I’ve done this today for Sean Keane (former PPUI patron who passed away earlier this year) as much as anyone and I’d like to think he has been with me all throughout this weekend. The club itself has had some tough years as everyone knows but I’d like to think that this is the icing on the cake in terms of the club making its comeback,” the first ever winner of the competition from the Premier County said.
In terms of her journey to the Elvery Cup, Breda felt two matches in particularly were key to her success. “The match with Eleanor Walsh (in the Second Round which she won 4&3) was outstanding but to come back against Marian from five down with nine to play with seven birdies was pretty amazing,” she said. The Ladies Winner wasn’t thinking about the Final with Tara in terms of having a usual game of Matchplay mind-set “I was thinking about it more in terms of Strokeplay because at this stage you get few gimmies off any players and you have to be able to hole out. I think I saw the finish line a bit too quickly at the 16th when I missed a putt to go dormy and that shows you how quickly things can change,” Breda said.
Fermoy will occupy most of the Ladies thoughts now with the National Strokeplay down for decision there on the weekend of July 20th and it’s a challenge Breda is looking forward to. “It’s going to be very tough for us all to try and beat Eleanor on her home course but I’ll go out there on the day and give it my best and see what happens.”
A STATISTICAL REVIEW OF THE 2014 NATIONAL MATCHPLAY
With thanks to John Manning for these
- John Walsh is now the ninth multiple winner of the competition (fourth from Cork).
- A third Cork win in succession and the ninth in ten years for the county.
- Twenty-third success for Cork in the competition.
- The 12 year gap in John’s two wins is the longest amongst multiple winners
- John had lost three finals in the competition following his success of 2002 until yesterday.
- This was the fourth Cork vs. Kerry Final in 11 years with the score two apiece.
- The other Cork win was Ray Murphy vs. Jonathon Goodall in ‘09
- The two Kerry wins were by Deerpark duo Derry McCarthy in 2004 (against Chris Scannell) and Damien Fleming in 2011 (also against Chris Scannell)
- John Walsh has only lost one semi-final in six appearances (to John Crangle in 2010)
- Chris Scannell is now up to seven semi-final appearances with a record of four wins and three losses.
- This was Breda Lonergan’s sixth semi-final appearance with her record now two wins and four losses.
- Breda lost her only other final appearance to Eleanor Walsh in 1988 at Dunlops.
- She is the first Tipperary winner of this event and also the first Munster winner of a Senior Ladies National Singles title since Douglas’ Norma O’Brien won the 1992 Strokeplay.
- Despite her loss in the decider Tara Dillon is still undefeated in semi-finals with three wins.
- Margaret Hogan made her 20th appearance in the semi-finals with her record now at 11 wins and nine losses.
- Margaret’s first was all of 40 years ago in Catholic Institute where she lost to the great Claire Keating.
- Marian Byrne is now up to 11 semi-final appearances (four consecutive) with her record standing at six wins and five losses.
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