Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dowling, Casey, Cunningham and Grant are
final four at the Irish Women’s Close
Top qualifier Mairead Martin (Kanturk) bowed out in this morning’s round of the last 16  at the Irish Women’s Close Championship at Mullingar.
 Maria Dunne (Skerries), who will travel to Italy next week for the Vagliano Trophy to represent GB and I, showed her class early, winning the first hole and keeping her lead before finishing the match on the 14th, 5 and 4.
 Dunne, the 2017 Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Champion, next  came up against 2010 Irish Close Champion Mary Dowling (New Ross).
Dunne struggled in the afternoon and Dowling took advantage, extending her lead to two holes  at the 9th when Dunne failed to get up from the greenside bunker. The Kilkenny native didn’t let up and despite a fantastic up and down on the 15th the match finished 4 and 3 in favour of Dowling.

Four of the morning matches went as far as the 18th with Ciara Casey (Hermitage), pictured left, and Niamh McSherry (Lurgan) both winning by one  hole. Valerie Clancy (Killarney) was to be Casey’s next opponent. Clancy had beaten Laytown and Bettystown’s Eleanor Metcalfe earlier but could not resist an in-form Casey who came out on top on the 15th green.
McSherry holed  her  second shot at the par 5 14th in her win over Rachel Thompson (Cork) and faced Sarah Cunningham (Ennis) after lunch.
 Cunningham levelled the match at the 9th when her 25 foot birdie putt found the bottom of the hole and after a wayward drive on the 10th from McSherry, Cunningham took advantage, winning the next three holes and finally closing out the match on the 17th.
The last quarter-final match-up saw Ulster’s Paula Grant (Lisburn) take on 2015 Irish Girls’ Close Championship finalist Lisa O’Shea (Shannon) after they overcame Orla Dunphy (Kilkenny) and Sinead Sexton (Lahinch) respectively this morning.
Grant has played consistently well to date in the tournament and this afternoon was no different. After 9 holes Paula led by two holes. However, O’Shea had levelled the match by the 12th but the experienced Grant prevailed, solidifying her place in the semi-finals on the 17th green.
In the Ita Wallace Plate, Paula Walsh (Doneraile) took on Chloe Ryan (Castletroy) in an all Munster quarter-final. Walsh, 2017 Munster Women’s Champion, was two up at the turn but by the 12th the Irish International had squared the match and went on to win 4 and 2.
Alice Hutchinson (St. Anne’s) and Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe/MU), both members of the ILGU National Funded Performance Panel, faced each other in the  second match. A quick start from the Maynooth University Scholar saw her go five up through six holes, a deficit too much for Hutchinson to come back from and Burke closed out the match 7 and 5.
In the bottom half of the draw, Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush) took on Irish Girls’ International Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) while 14-year old Beth Coulter (Kirkistown Castle) did battle with Kate Lanigan (Hermitage). Both Emma Forbes and Beth/Kate played fantastic golf in blustery conditions to secure their places in the Plate semi-final.
Sunday’s semi-finals tee off at 08:30am with the Ita Wallace Plate matches out first. The final of both flights will then tee off at 13:00 and13:30 when the Irish Women’s Close Champion and Ita Wallace Plate winners will be crowned.
Semi Finals
08:50 Mary Dowling (New Ross) vs. Ciara Casey (Hermitage)
09:00 Sarah Cunningam (Ennis) vs. Paula Grant (Lisburn)
Maria Dunne (Skerries) bt Mairead Martin (Kanturk) 4 and 3.
Mary Dowling (New Ross) bt Ariana Coyle Diez (Elm Park) 1 hole.
Ciara Casey (Hermitage) bt Sara Byrne (Douglas) 1 hole.
Valerie Clancy (Killarney) bt Eleanor Metcalfe (Laytown and  Bettystown) 4 and 3
Sarah Cunningham (Ennis) bt Maeve Cummins (Lurgan) at 19th
Niamh McSherry (Lurgan) bt Rachel Thompson (Cork) 1 hole.
Paula Grant (Lisburn) bt Orla Dunphy (Kilkenny) 6 and 5
Lisa O’Shea (Shannon) bt Sinead Sextion (Lahinch) 2 and 1.#

Quarter Finals
Dowling  bt Dunne 4 and 3.
Casey bt Clancy  4 and 3.
Cunningham bt McSherry  2 and 1
Grant bt O’Shea 2 and 1

Ita Wallace Plate
Paula Walsh (Doneraile) bt Clodagh Walsh (Castlewarden/MU) 2 and 1
Chloe Ryan (Castletroy) w.o. Louise Coffey (Malone) scr
Alice Hutchinson (St. Anne’s) bt Anna Dawson (Tramore) 8 and 6.
Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe/MU) bt Aine Donegan (Woodstock) 2 and 1
Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush) bt Meadhbh Doyle (Portarlington/MU) 1 hole.
Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) bt Kate Dwyer (Rossmore) 5 and 4
Beth Coulter (Kirkistown Castle) bt Roisin Brady (Co Louth) 4 and 2.
Kate Lanigan (Hermitage) bt Aoife Lowry (Tipperary) 3 and 2

Ryan bt Walsh 4 and 2.
Burke bt Hutchinson 7 and 5.
Walsh bt Forbes 2 holes.
Lanigan bt Coulter at 19th

08:30 Chloe Ryan (Castletroy) vs. Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe)
08:40 Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) vs. Kate Lanigan (Hermitage)