The Douglas Junior Cup team have booked their place in Carton House for the All Ireland finals, and they did it in exciting style winning their Munster final on the 18th green in Dungarvan Golf Club last Sunday. Their team featured several of last year’s Fred Daly winning team and shows how much those players have further matured in winning two very competitive provincial matches. After winning a dramatic semi-final again Mitchelstown, Douglas faced Ballybunion in the final, with the Kerry side looking to book a second team into the All-Ireland finals. Ballybunion held a slight advantage through the opening nine holes and built on that lead going into the back nine. A win in the first game was likely for Douglas after Darren Hourihan turned into the back nine 4 up. Hourihan again led Douglas from the front, wrapping up his win on the 13th. This takes his Junior Cup record this year to six wins in which he only visited the 18th once. There were two big swings in the back nine. Adam McSweeney won the 10th and 11th which moved his match from one down to one up. The Douglas player, winner of the prestigious Muskerry Junior Scratch Matchplay competition earlier this year, went on to win the 13th as well to build on the lead. He lost the 14th but crucially won the 16th to go two up with two to play. Ballybunion won the 17th with a great birdie, but McSweeney won the 18th with a birdie despite only needing a par for a half. Douglas did lose the third, but with two wins already in, they only needed one the two remaining matches to claim the win.
Barry O’Sullivan Geaney sealed the win in the morning semi-final with a win on the 17th green, and in the final it would fall to him again to secure the win for the Douglas team. Although he was trailing for most of the front nine, like McSweeeny he too won the 10th and 11th to tie the score. It wasn’t until the 17th that the young Douglas player took the lead, and with Ballybunion finding water on the 18th a win seemed certain. Ballybunion had other thoughts and narrowly missed a chip for birdie but secured their par. O’Sullivan had a tricky 10 foot putt to win the hole but either adrenalin or a bad read saw him push the ball over four feet beyond the hole. He wasn’t to be caught and calmly made the putt back to win the third point and secure another Munster Pennant for Douglas. Philip Quinn was bringing up the rear for Douglas, although he was three down after 12 holes, he battled back and stood on the 18th tee one down. His drive split the fairway while Ballybunion were out of position on the left. That gave Quinn a great chance to half the match but the roar from the 18th green signalled that the match was over with Quinn recording a half (called in) on the official score.
It’s the first time since 1999 that the club have won the Munster Pennant and title, with team manager Derek Byrne holding a link between both teams. The Douglas stalwart was on that successful Douglas team which also included Tom Collins, Gary O’Herlihy, Denis Collins and Mick Crowley. The team of ’99 won the All-Ireland title that year in Royal Portrush, beating Galway and Warrenpoint on their way to a green pennant. The team of 2015 will have an exciting few weeks ahead as they prepare for Carton House and an All-Ireland semi-final.