Monday 19 March 2018

Pembrokeshire win Mayoral Cup for first time since 2004

THE ANNUAL inter-county golf match between Co. Wexford Youths and Co. Pembrokeshire Youths for The Mayoral Cup took place recently at the newlyrevamped Newport Links Golf Club, Pembrokeshire.

The Mayor of Wexford presented The Mayoral Cup to the organisers in 1995 to strengthen sporting and social links between these neighbouring Celtic counties. The current Mayor, Cllr. Joe Ryan, attended this 16th annual match. The match alternates each year between Wexford and Pembrokeshire, and also between the courses in each county. Each team consisted of 16 players under 18 years on January 1, 2010.

The Wexford team travelled over to Fishguard accompanied by mentors Paddy Dore and John Meyler. They then made the journey by bus to Newport Links G.C. which is in a very scenic location about 12 miles from Fishguard.

On arrival at the course, the team had a very welcome meal, followed by a fourball competition with each pairing consisting of a player from each county. The idea in this format is to allow the visiting players to familiarise themselves with the course before the all-important match which takes place on the following day. It also encourages them to get to know one another. Newport Links is now a ninehole parkland and nine-hole links course and would prove a test for any golfer, with long carries to reach the fairways and also some blind approaches to the greens.

This fourball was won by Michael Ryan of New Ross and Jack Cooper of Pembrokeshire with an unbelievable stableford score of 50 points. In second place with 48 were Robert Whelan of New Ross and Nathan Rees of Pembrokeshire.

On Tuesday the 16 singles matches commenced after lunch. Thankfully the rain from the morning cleared up and we had sunshine throughout.

Prior to this year, Wexford had won The Mayoral Cup, a replica of the famous Ryder Cup, in 12 of the 15 matches played with one halved. Both teams were, by agreement, listed in handicap order with the lower handicapped players going last. On paper the Wexford team, with 15 of their 16 players playing off single figures, looked the stronger with a number of the Pembrokeshire team off handicaps well into the teens. Seán Mernagh (Enniscorthy) was the Wexford captain.

Wexford got off to a winning start when Ciarán Sherridan (Courtown), who was giving nine shots, beat Brandon Cooper. Things looked good for Wexford when Justin McGuinness (Wexford) had 5 and 4 win over Tom Rees. Pembrokeshire got a match back when Jack Cooper came from two down after nine holes to beat Seán Mackey and win one up on the 18th.

A current player from Courtown with a famous Irish golfing name, Fred Daly, had a 4 and 3 win over Nathan Rees to give Wexford a 3-1 advantage. Pembrokeshire rallied strongly in the second quarter when they won three of these four matches.

Mathew Humphreys beat Niall McGrath (Courtown) 3 and 2, Steve Bowen beat Darragh Bates (Wexford) 2 up, and Daniel Arnott Rees beat Enniscorthy's Dayle Donohoe 3 and 1. Dayle obviously found that he needs time to adjust to his new handicap of seven, having been cut three shots the previous week.

David Kavanagh (New Ross) got a match back for Wexford when he beat Joseph Pullman 4 and 3. This left the teams level on four each at the halfway stage.

Wexford went into a brief lead again when Chris Hayes (Wexford) beat Jonathon Bowen 4 and 3, but Pembrokeshire quickly responded with Rhys Williams beating Lee Tracey (Enniscorthy) by the same margin. The home team also won the next match when Niall Day beat Rhys Clarke (Wexford) 2 up, and then when Joe Hodgson beat Darragh Hobbs (Courtown) 3 and 2, they had a 7-5 lead with just four matches to be decided.

Robert Whelan (New Ross) halved his match against Jonathan Evans and another New Ross player, Michael Ryan, also halved his match with Mathew Evans. The Pembrokeshire captain, Hayden Mathias, won against Donal O'Brien (St. Helen's Bay) by 4 and 3 to see his team getting the vital nine points to win the Mayoral Cup for the first time since 2004, and only their third time over the last 16 matches.

In the last match, Pembrokeshire's Sam Barton, who was first off the 18th tee and one hole down, drove for the green which was downhill 315 yards, leaving his tee shot about 25 feet past the pin. Wexford captain Seán Mernagh (Enniscorthy) also hit a great tee shot which unfortunately caught a bunker ten yards from the green.

Seán hit a great second shot from this bunker onto the green to about nine feet. Sam hit a great putt for an eagle which slid two foot past the hole. Seán was equal to the challenge and sank a pressure putt for his birdie.

Sam was also successful with his birdie putt. Seán won this match 1 up for Wexford, bringing the match to a conclusion. The final result was 9-7 for Pembrokeshire, and Cllr. Joe Ryan duly presented The Mayoral Cup to their captain, Hayden Mathias. The match next year will take place at Wexford Golf Club in late August.

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