FERMOY GOLF CLUB
After what turned out to be a real ‘game of two halves’ with a wee bit of extra time our JB Carr team has progressed to the Provincial final with a nail-biting win over Ballybunion over the last week.
The match commenced with the home leg for us on Monday, July 17. We knew we were up against it as we were giving shots in 4 matches. But early on it looked very good as four of our pairings we were quickly up and the only team down, Tom O’Keeffe and John Mulvihill, had a history of coming back from the brink as they did in this case again going ahead on 17 and closing the match out with a fine par on 18.
Tom Higgins and John O’Grady and Ned Flynn and Dave Fleming were always in control of their games which they brought home early. With the first three matches in for us Ballybunion were under real pressure as they stared down the barrel of a 5:0 defeat but the quality of their team shone out as they rallied to win the last two matches on 18.
Our pairs of Denis Crowley and Colm Murphy and Leo O’Mahony and John Lawlor, both conceding shots, gave their all for the cause but had to give best to two fine pars on the last.
Facing a serious battle in the second leg every member of the panel turned up for practice in North Kerry on Thursday, a day on which the quality of the play of our lads gave us confidence for the match ahead.
After much deliberation, managers Brian and Niall decided to field the same 5 pairings for Saturday’s match but did tweak the order. We were giving shots in three matches and receiving in two which made our task more difficult as the second hole in Ballybunion is index 1.
From early in the match, things were not looking good as, in a direct opposite manner to the home leg we were down in 4 games. Tom and John were behind by three but hung in there returning to parity on three occasions before finally suffering defeat on the seventeenth. Leo and John, despite giving 4 shots were always in control and while they were pegged back to one up on 11 they closed out the match on 16.
Tom and John were always struggling against opponents who were using their local knowledge and links golf skills to score par after par. They were eventually to lose on 14. Ned and Dave were also playing well but still found themselves 5 down after 11 but a strong fightback saw them reduce the deficit to one by 16. Here a bit of bad luck saw them go back to 2 down and they had to give best when 17 was halved in par.
It was now down to our last pairing of Denis and Colm and things were not looking good as they were three down as they drove on 11. A superb drive from Colm followed by and excellent second shot from Denis led to a comfortable winning par which was the beginning of a comeback which led to a win by 2&1. How many of us who saw Colm’s wonderful use of his ‘local knowledge’ on the very difficult par 3 at 15 to land his drive 6 feet from the pin will ever forget it.
A sudden death play-off was now required and we chose Colm and Denis while BallyB chose their no. 1 pairing. After good drives, we were some 50 yards ahead of our opponents with Colm’s shot.
Ballybunion’s second was pulled slightly left and they were left with a difficult chip over a bunker to a close pin. Denis then played a five iron to the heart of the green, a shot which was lauded by all even the locals, and which put us in pole position.
With their opponents some 25 feet away in three when Colm struck his approach putt to two feet and we dared to dream. Ballybunion failed to hole out and the large group of supporters from both sides watched as Denis calmly and firmly stroked the winning putt home to complete a superb comeback.
We now advance to play either Ballykisteen or Dungarvan before the end of August, a match we can look forward to with confidence. In doing so we are particularly grateful to the large band of supporters who travelled to Kerry last Saturday.
Many thanks to Lady Vice Captain, Margaret Keohane, whose soup and sandwiches before the off were greatly appreciated and to the Lady Captain Liz, and the huge band of ladies who turned out.
It was fabulous to see so many light blue sweaters and tee shirts assembled in key locations, a sight that gave the lads a huge lift. This was especially so around the green on the 19th. Hopefully we will have even more support the next day.
We are also grateful to Ballybunion GC for the welcome and hospitality with which we were greeted both on Thursday and Saturday. They were sporting opponents and gracious losers. Finally, well done to the team and caddies on a fantastic performance over the two legs. Onward and upward.