Guest leads Lee Valley to All Ireland Title – AIG Intermediate Cup

Valerie Hassett (President, ILGU) with the Lee Valley Team winners of the Intermediate Cup at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook Golf Club today (25/09/2015) . Picture by Pat Cashman

Valerie Hassett (President, ILGU) with the Lee Valley Team winners of the Intermediate Cup at the 2015 AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Finals at Knightsbrook Golf Club today (25/09/2015) . Picture by Pat Cashman

Wearing spikes rather than studs, former Irish rugby international Laura Guest found success all the same as she guided Lee Valley to All-Ireland glory.  Guest retired from international rugby last year after a 14-year career in the Irish jersey but she was celebrating another famous victory on Friday night.  A Grand Slam winner with the Irish ladies in 2013, Guest got her hands on an All-Ireland medal in the AIG Intermediate Cup Final at Knightsbrook when Lee Valley beat Malahide in the final at Knightsbrook.  “It’s a bit different here,” said Guest. “I absolutely love the golf.  I’m just lucky that we were here and lucky that we played well. It’s only really this last year that I’ve spent a bit of time playing, I never really had time before.”  Helen Hodson and Catherine O’Sullivan had won their matches comfortably, leaving Lee Valley just one point from overall victory.  Guest had the title in her hands and when she completed a 3&1 victory on the 17th the cup was going back to Cork.  “I couldn’t look at anybody there the last three holes, I just needed to stay focused,” said Guest, who had played in three World Cups with Ireland during her rugby career.  “If I wasn’t playing the golf I’d probably have been very tempted to go back playing rugby last year but I think it gave me a little escape.”  Champions in 2012, this was Lee Valley’s second All-Ireland crown in four seasons, although they could have lost out in a dramatic semi-final.  They 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.  “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.

Unfortunately for Lee Valley their Junior Foursome team lost out in their semi-final which was also played yesterday.  Barbara Butler and Imelda O’Sullivan won their match 6&5 but the other two pairs lost out to final winners Bearna.

AIG ILGU Cups & Shields Finals:

Intermediate Cup Final: Malahide 1 -v- Lee Valley 4
Trish Ryan (16) halved with Vanessa Fitzgerald (14) (Called-In)
Ann Ryan (17) lost to Laura Guest (16) 3&1
Ann Evans (18) lost to Helen Hodson (16) 4&3
Olive Shannon (18) lost to Catherine O’Sullivan (18) 5&4
Orla McMahon (18) halved with Katherine Doran (18) (called-in)

Intermediate Cup Semi Final: Shandon Park 2 Lee Valley 3
Paula McAtamney (15) lost to Vanessa Fitzgerald (14) on 22nd
Mel Rooney (16) beat Helen Hodson (16) 3&1
Paula Irvine (17) lost to Laura Guest (16) 3&1
Debbie Sweeney (17) beat Catherine O’Sullivan (18) 4&3
Gillian Harron (19) lost to Katherine Doran (18) 1up

Junior Foursomes Semi Final: Lee Valley 1 Bearna 2
Teresa Down (15) & Joan Buckley (20)  lost to Ailis McDermott (15) & Mary Farrell (21) 4&3
Ann O’Flynn (15) & Marie Hayes (22) lost to Caroline Codyre (17) & Barbara O’Keefe (19) 2&1
Barbara Butler (17) & Imelda O’Sullivan (23) beat Valerie Kiely (17) & Marian Cunningham (21) 6&5