It was win number four for Gary O’Flaherty in Lee Valley when he won the Munster Mid-Amateur title on Sunday. His season started with a win in the Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup in April, and he closed out on Sunday with another win on the championship course in Ovens. Back in April O’Flaherty maintained his overnight lead to win his third Lee Valley title, this time he overturned a three-shot deficit to win on the final green in a tense finish. Although the weather was much better than the wet conditions on Saturday, there was a stiff breeze blowing through Lee Valley which tested many of the golfers. O’Flaherty played some very tidy golf, his only bogey of the day came at the 7th and his birdie on the 9th got him back to level for the round. He birdied the par five 15th to get into the red, and he narrowly missed good birdie opportunities on the 16th and 17th. Standing on the 18th, Gary was one under for the day and +2 overall. With Alan Thomas (Dungarvan) in on +2 after a fine 69 it looked like a play-off may be required. But a great birdie on the last gave O’Flaherty the lead and the title. That came from a great approach from 160 yards that finished five feet from the hole on the 18th green.
Thomas took second place to finish one behind the winner, and David O’Donovan (Muskerry), another man who has tested success in Lee Valley, shot a final round 70 to take third place. The overnight leader O’Donoghue had a tough start, with three consecutive bogies from the 2nd to the 4th. He recovered with a birdie on the 8th, and followed that with an eagle on the par four 9th to get back to level par. To more bogies followed on the 10th and 11th, and when he bogied the 17th his chance was gone. His closing 75 meant that he finished in fourth place. Monkstown’s Eoghan Long shot a very impressive three under par 69, he fired in five birdies in his final round which saw him tie for 5th place. Long’s attention will now turn to Thurles for the Barton Shield finals in three weeks time. Karl Bornemann was another golfer in the red on Sunday, finishing with a 71. He was three under par at one stage but bogies at the 17th and 18th meant he finished in seventh place, taking the nett prize. There were top ten finishes for John O’Brien and John O’Neill with Mark Ford finishing in 11th place.
For O’Flaherty it was a great way to book-end his season in his last championship appearance of the year. He was three shots off the lead going into the final round, but there were plenty of people backing him to win in the final round. “I didn’t think I’d be standing here this morning but I’m delighted to have won” said O’Flaherty, “I felt the wind this morning and I knew if I could shoot 69 or 70 that I might have a chance.” O’Flaherty seems to have a hot hand whenever he goes to Lee Valley, but to be fair to the Cork golfer he’s had a great summer of golf. He reached the final 16 of the South of Ireland, and two weeks ago he was a key part of the Munster team who won the Internprovincial Championship in Athenry. While Gary does seem to play well in Clashnure, he was quick to praise the club for putting on a great tournament experience. “We as players really value the fact that they take such an interest in the golf competitions here. The golf course is always in fantastic condition every time we come here and great credit is due to the Keohane’s and all of the team here. I think we all thought there would be very little golf on Saturday given the weather but to have the course and particularly the greens in such great condition was great.”