East Cork booked their place in the Munster finals of the AIG Junior Cup with a dramatic win in the area final. Muskerry was the venue for the exciting match last week when it hosted the area final of the Junior Cup. Bandon were hoping add a second team to the schedule for the Munster finals, that was after their AIG Senior Cup team qualified for the finals in Tramore the previous week. East Cork were their opponents, the Midleton club came through from the Castlemartyr qualifier but only by the skin of their teeth after winning when the last match went to the 19th hole.
Muskerry was in great condition for the match, and the intense sunshine was welcomed by the large crowd of spectators from both clubs. Area finals in recent times have been tense affairs with matches invariably going down to the last few holes of the last match. The same was true last Thursday with an extra hole needed to decide on a winner. James Gillespie put the first point on the board for when he won on the 17th and the second win came quickly after that when Adam Wilson wrapped up his match on the 16th. Crucially for Bandon they got two points on the board when Eoghan Collins and Conor Whyte lost out for East Cork. The story of the evening was in the back match between East Cork’s Shane Connors and Bandon’s Dave Kavanagh.
Kavanagh got the upper hand early on, and by the 11th hole he was five up against Connors. That was all the luck that he’d have though as Connors went on to win five of the next seven holes to get back to all square after 18 holes. From the 18th green, it was a long walk back to the first tee for a play-off. A par on the 19th was good enough to claim the win, and East Cork advanced to the Munster finals, much to the delight of the managers Derek Coll and Eddie Murphy.
Gallery: AIG Junior Cup Area Final, East Cork v Bandon
Coll was delighted to see his anchor man get the result. “To get the win the other night was amazing. We knew Shane had the game to come back, but he just needed something to go his way which happened on the 12th when he won that” said a delighted manager after the win. “He got a fabulous birdie on 14 and a superb par on 15 to push him on. James and Adam had to very tough games on their hands but I was very confident that those two would deliver two points. James was involved in a very dramatic win against Cork Golf Club in Castlemartyr when he won on the 20th so we’re used to dramatic finishes!” Like most clubs involved in the cups and shields, East Cork have been busy with matches taking place almost every week over the last two months. Their Fred Perry team also had a big win against Raffeen Creek last week and they now qualify for the area final where they will face Dunmore. The ladies have matched the progress of the men, they’ve made to through to the Munster finals of the Challenge Cup and the Junior Cup. It’s a busy time for anyone involved with the teams, and especially for the club officers who attend most events. As is typical with East Cork, the members and supporters always turn out in large numbers and that was no different for the Junior Cup in Muskerry. “We have had super support from the club and especially from our captain Alan McFarlane and President Killian McGrath. We have a panel of eight experienced golfers at this stage and all have played a game so far” Derek added, “Ian Maher, Muiris Quirke and Michael Daly make up the rest of the panel. The plan for the next few weeks is to see Tramore as much as possible and to get the guys playing as many matches as possible.”
With the three Cork representatives now confirmed for the finals in five weeks time, the next events up are the Bruen and Purcell finals in Nenagh this Saturday. Bandon are involved again, their Jimmy Bruen team did well in Lee Valley to come through a tough area final against Mahon back in May. They will face Killarney in the semi-final. In the Pierce Purcell, Douglas are the Cork representatives and they will take on Charleville who qualified from the North Munster section.