Thursday, September 24, 2015

Senior Foursomes Semi-Finals 
Mallow will meet Castle in the final of the AIG Insurance Senior Foursomes.
The Cork club needed a birdie on the last to overcome Lurgan in a thrilling semi-final at Knightsbrook while Castle enjoyed a stress-free victory against Enniscorthy.
On another cool but dry day at Knightsbrook, Mallow’s Susan Curtin sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the treacherous 18th to give her side a one-hole victory in the decisive match. Catherine Roche found the green with a sublime tee shot on the closing par three and Curtin rolled in the winning putt. Earlier Irish international Annabel Wilson had partnered Sheene McStay to a 2&1 victory for Lurgan in the top match but Mallow hit back when Mary Dowling and Marie O’Sullivan clinched a vital win on 18. The match hinged on the final game and it was Mallow who emerged victorious when Curtin and Roche combined for that birdie on the last.
There was no such drama for Castle as they won all three matches against Enniscorthy. Sinead Heraty and Sally-Anne Lenehan put the first point on the board with a 5&3 victory in the opening match. Amy Jones and Ruth Keating followed up with a 5&3 win while Martha Jones and Aedin Murphy were also on their way to victory in the back match.
“We played steady golf early on, we felt we were in control,” said Murphy, a former Irish international. “Yesterday was really tight against Roscommon. Getting through that match helped us today. We just had to make sure we kept our intensity up so we spoke a bit about that beforehand.”
Murphy won the Senior Foursomes with her native Carlow in 2006 and is chasing another All-Ireland success with her adopted club tomorrow.
“This is only my second year in the club but my first year playing for them. I’ve been really enjoying it,” said Murphy, who is now based in Dublin and works at Grange Golf Club.
Tomorrow’s final begins at 12.15pm
Intermediate Cup Semi-Finals
Malahide came through a nerve-wracking encounter to took their place in the AIG Insurance Intermediate Cup Final.
Patricia Ryan claimed the winning point when she overhauled Loughrea’s Sharon Mooney on the first extra hole. Ryan had been four down at the turn in the top match but she rallied on the back nine and holed a six-footer for par on 18 to square the match. Buoyed by her comeback, Ryan struck the decisive blow on 19.
“I wanted to get all square on the 18th. I had the momentum then and I just said, ‘do your own thing’, and she got into trouble and I didn’t,” said Ryan, who played in the Irish Mixed Foursomes Final earlier this season. Having tasted defeat in the All-Ireland Final against Dooks, Ryan is determined to go one better at the AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals in Knightsbrook.
“We have plenty of motivation, we want the gold now,” said Ryan. Malahide won their semi-final 3-2 in the end, Ann Ryan and Ann Evans also winning their matches. In the final, they face Cork club Lee Valley, who also had to survive an extra hole thriller in their semi-final against Shandon Park.
Vanessa Fitzgerald, who is originally from Malaysia, won the top match on the 22nd hole after a titanic tussle with Paula McAtamney.
“This was a tough match but I really enjoyed it,” said Fitzgerald, who moved to Cork two years ago having met her Irish husband, Edward, in Malaysia
“We have two children so I decided to bring the two children to Ireland for school because school is always good here. I played in Malaysia and Brunei before I came here,” said Fitzgerald, who has had to adapt to a vastly different climate.
“It’s cold and very windy but I am used to it now because Lee Valley is always windy,” she said.
Her victory helped Lee Valley to a 3-2 win as Katherine Doran sealed the decisive point with a one-hole win in the back match. Laura Guest won match three for the Cork ladies as they booked their place in tomorrow’s final, which gets underway at 1.30pm.
Minor Cup Semi-Finals
Connacht champions Portumna were the most impressive winners on day two of the AIG Insurance Ladies Cups and Shields at Knightsbrook as they booked their place in the minor cup final against The K Club.
It was all one-way traffic in the first of the minor cup semi-finals as Portumna whitewashed Donaghadee. Veronica Curtin won the opening match 6&5 in what turned out to be a Portumna procession. Brid Kelly won 5&3 while Mary McDonagh closed out her match on the 16th to secure a third point. Lily Graydon was a 3&1 winner in match three while Bernie Kilmartin was also ahead in the back match. The Galway girls now play The K Club in the final after the East Leinster champions beat Mullingar in the second semi-final.
“We have never won a minor All Ireland so this will be major,” said K Club team captain Mary Merrins looking ahead to the final. “It would be the fulfilment of a wonderful year’s golf. We started this last March and the five girls who played today were the first five who played on day one.”
Merrins’ side needed one point from the last two matches after Michelle Tighe and Noirin Donovan won their games. Edel Decies came in with the decisive point when she took the back match 5&3.
“Our girls rallied and we did get it together in the middle of the back nine and it was wonderful,” said Merrins after a nervous start. “The butterflies did abate when we were dormie four up and dormie two up in the last two matches.”
Winners of the Challenge Cup in 2007, The K Club are chasing another All-Ireland crown tomorrow when the final gets underway at 12.45am.
Junior Cup Quarter-Final
Enniscorthy overcame Naas in the AIG Insurance Junior Cup Quarter-Final.
After disappointment in the Senior Foursomes, the Wexford ladies made amends in the Junior Cup when Eimear McGrath won the decisive match. Connie Doyle came from behind to beat Sarah Crowe in the top match on 17 and Margaret Mooney edged out Patricia Cronin on the 18th. Lisa Rohan had won on the 14th to give Naas a fighting chance but Eimear McGrath ended their hopes of a comeback when she beat Paula Murray 2&1.
“The team played exceptionally well throughout,” said team manager Jennifer King. “I’m really, really proud of them. They dug deep, it was tough.”
Enniscorthy now play Lurgan in the semi-finals tomorrow at 9.45am. Limerick take on Athenry in the first semi-final at 9am.
“It’s a wonderful format and I’m so glad AIG have come on board and sponsored the event,” said King. “It’s wonderful for ladies golf, you make great friends here.”

Challenge Cup Quarter-Final
East Cork are through to the last four after a convincing quarter-final victory against Co Sligo in the AIG Insurance Challenge Cup.
Rachel Sheehan, Pamela Codd and Suzanne Hickey all won their matches to see the Munster champions through to a semi-final meeting with Elm Park, which goes off at 11.15am tomorrow. In the other semi-final, Mount Juliet play Rossmore at 10.30am.
Junior Foursomes Quarter-Final 
Powerscourt set up a semi-final meeting with Malone in the junior foursomes after they saw off the challenge of Castlecomer.
It was a tense affair all the way through but Sarah Tierney and Suzanne Sherry settled the contest when they won their match on the 18th. Christine O’Neill and Janet Casey had given Powerscourt the lead when they won the opening match by one hole. Tierney and Sherry won by the same margin to keep their All-Ireland dream alive. Also through to the last four are Lee Valley and Beara, who clash in the first semi-final tomorrow morning at 8am.