Munster put themselves into a great position to win back to back Senior Inter-provincial titles with a hard fought win over Ulster today. The back nine proved crucial in both sessions as Munster finished the second day with two wins from two. After a win over Connacht yesterday, they faced a tough and experienced Ulster team today. In the morning foursomes session there were wins for Dave O’Donovan and Gary O’Flaherty, both opening their accounts for the 2015 series. Ian O’Rourke and Eanna Griffin recorded their second win together cementing their partnership. John Hickey and Robin Dawson fell to their first loss in five matches together, they lost 2&1 in the opening match. Pat Murray and Geoff Lenehan halved their match to give Munster a one point lead going into the afternoon.
Griffin, the rookie in the Munster team chalked up his fourth straight win on the 13th green in the singles, and he joined Dawson, Lenehan and O’Rourke in claiming four points from the seven matches. The result was far from assured in the earlier part of the afternoon. Murray and Hickey were down from the start but battled to keep their matches alive and no doubt added momentum to those following behind. Dave O’Donovan too couldn’t stop William Hanna but battled on before losing out on the 16th. Lenehan and O’Rourke both came from behind to win and both matches were ultimately the difference as Munster won 6.5 to 4.5
Munster Provincial Coach Fred Twomey was delighted with the performance from his charges: “We had another great team performance this morning, especially from Dave O’Donovan and Gary O’Flaherty who won a very important match. Dave hit a great 7 iron into a strong crosswind to give Gary a six foot putt on the 18th. That win was crucial for the morning result and gave us a great lift going into the afternoon.”
Despite not being able to have a team get together prior to the event, Fred has been working with the team members and the overall game plan and approach for weeks and once the squad got to Rosapenna on Saturday the campaign started. The planning has paid dividends and Twomey is also very happy with the course: ““Everything up here has been great. The course is a true links layout and the hotel is top class. The Director of Golf, Frank Casey was also very helpful, we got out for a practice round on Saturday evening and we also had our official practice on Sunday. All in all our preparation has been great. Pat Dunne has done a great job in organising all of the logistics, and Phil [Cooney] is definitely getting the most out of the pairings. Phil has great time for the players and they also have great faith in him. We have done lots with good teams in Munster over the years, no matter a management team do it’s irrelevant unless the players buy in and Pat and Phil are great at that.”
Twomey is right about the influence of Munster Captain Phil Cooney, along with Pat and Fred they have moulded eight individuals into a team of eight and four great foursomes pairings. In his four years in charge of the senior team, he has won all 11 foursomes sessions.
Tomorrow Munster will face Leinster in a winner takes all final match. The four foursomes matches and seven singles matches will no doubt test the Munster squad, but that said after the performances of the past two days, they have a great chance to record a historic double and Twomey is looking forward to it: “Tomorrow as usual will be a tough test against Leinster, but we have great players and a great team spirit and we’ll see what happens.”
Scorecard (8pm Day 2):