GOLFING GLORY Pictured are the Westport Golf Club team who were crowned national Junior Cup champions on Sunday at the AIG Cups and Shields finals, which were hosted by Westport Golf Club over the weekend. Seated with the cup are Tony Bree, team captain; David Scott, club captain and Ronan Mahon. At back are the rest of the victorious team, from left: Colin Browne, Fergus Rothwell, Anto Browne, Niall Keogh, Dave Loftus, Ronan Hehir, Shane Larkin and Sam Gillivan. Pic: Pat Cashman
Emotional victory after death of local golfing legend Gar Golden
SUNDAY was a very special day for everyone involved with Westport Golf Club as their Junior Cup team claimed national glory at the AIG Cups and Shields finals.
The club had the pleasure of hosting all five national titles last weekend, but the Westport team dealt admirably with the pressure of playing on home soil to beat a gallant Dun Laoghaire team by 4-1 in the final.
The hurt of two recent final defeats was put to bed on an emotional weekend as everyone at the club was still mourning the death of club trustee Gar Golden, a former President of the Golfing Union of Ireland. Gar was synonymous with golf in Westport and all of the players on the victorious team dedicated their victory to him.
Although Ronan Hehir (4&3) and Ronan Mahon (3&2) scored early points for the home side, victory didn’t come until Anto Browne defeated Jamie Campbell at the first extra hole.
“We’ve been trying to win this for 10 or 15 years now, it’s brilliant,” Browne told Golfnet.ie after clinching the winning point.
“We won this in 1980 when Gar was on the team. We’ll be dedicating this one to him. I knew him well. I played a lot of golf with him when I was younger. A gentleman as well. He’d have been delighted. He’d have been the first one in shaking hands.”
Since that win in 1980, Westport have lost three times at the All-Ireland stage. Browne, 33, tasted defeat in 2006 and in 2015.
“We’re so lucky having the home draw,” Browne reflected. “The team we played yesterday (Malone from Belfast) only had two rounds here. It’s not enough on any course.”
Whatever advantages accrued to Westport from playing at home, to win required courage and resilience. Having come so close before, they were bound to feel nervous near the winning post.
“I am so happy to have finally won one and to get over the line on our home course,” said team captain Tony Bree. “It was right in the melting pot the last few holes, and it could have gone either way in those deciding two matches.”
Although Browne sealed it for Westport down 19, Fergus Rothwell also played a part in the drama. He led down 18 in the game behind Browne. And moments after Westport’s victory was confirmed, Rothwell holed for birdie to close the match in style.
The final member of Westport’s team, Shane Larkin, lost the final game 2&1.
Westport had beaten Malone from Belfast in Saturday’s semi-final, also on a scoreline of 4-1.
Mayo’s other finalists, Castlebar Golf Club, were narrowly defeated in the Pierce Purcell Shield Final. They lost to Charleville of Cork, 3-2.
The other three title winners from a truly memorable weekend at Westport Golf Club were Galway Golf Club, who won the Senior Cup; Tandragee Golf Club from Armagh who won the Jimmy Bruen Shield and Limerick Golf Club won the Barton Shield.