Pat's putt their way to national title
Saturday, October 10, started like any ordinary day but for eight members of St. Patrick's pitch and putt club in Enniscorthy, it would turn out to be the most memorable day and the greatest achievement of their sporting careers.
The Enniscorthy men, against all odds, became the first Leinster team to win the prestigious All-Ireland inter-club title which features the elite players and clubs from all over the country.
En route to St. Patrick's historic victory at a dry but blustery Tramore club in Co. Waterford, the Enniscorthy men came through a very difficult group, taking out teams like Erin's Isle from Dublin and Fermoy from Cork to book their place in the final four.
In the semi-final St. Patrick's took on the defending champions and hotly-fancied St. Anne's team from Cork whose star-studded panel featured the great Ray Murphy, a multiple All-Ireland champion, plus former national champions Darren Collins, Frank Dineen and Kieran Dunscombe. The Cork team was completed by prominent inter-county star Donal Duggan.
First up was the foursomes and courtesy of victories from Martin O'Neill and Mervyn Cooney over Frank Dineen and Ray Callanan (three and two), and William Hudson and Dean Grannell beating Ray Murphy and Darren Collins (two and one), St. Pat's took a 2-1 lead.
In the other game Paul Tobin and Conor Murphy were just pipped one up by Kieran Dunscombe and John O'Sullivan in a titanic struggle.
Next up was the singles and first out was Martin O'Neill who cruised to a three and two victory over Kieran Dunscombe. Next to play was Mervyn Cooney who lost four and three to the excellent John O'Sullivan.
Out third was the impressive Conor Murphy who won three and two against Darren Collins. Next up was Dean Grannell who lost three and two to Frank Dineen.
The vital point came courtesy of captain William Hudson who was one down with two to play against the in-form Donal Duggan. Both players halved the 17th with a two, and with tensions high Hudson pitched a great ball to 18 and made the nerve-wracking putt to send it to sudden death.
The 19th was again halved in two and so it ws on to the 20th. Both pitched cracking balls to the second extra hole, and when the Cork man missed from six feet it was up to Hudson to deliver from four feet which he duly did to confirm a 5-4 victory to St. Pat's.
In the final match Paul Tobin lost four and three to Ray Murphy. In the other semi-final Bruff of Limerick defeated Fermoy of Cork on a 5-4 scoreline.
So it was on to the difficult final and a match-up against a talented Bruff team powered by former national champion and current European champion Liam O'Donovan. The team also consisted of former Munster champ Tommy Hanley and the ever-consistent Pacelli Darcy and Patsy Farrell.
After the foursomes St. Patrick's took a slender 2-1 lead thanks to victories for Paul Tobin/Conor Murphy and Dean Grannell/William Hudson over Patsy Farrell/Martin Keohane and Pacelli Darcy/Liam O'Donovan respectively.
In the other match, Martin O'Neill and Mervyn Cooney were narrowly defeated on the 22nd hole in a gruelling game.
In the singles Bruff got of to a cracking start by taking the top two matches, Martin O'Neill falling to Pacelli Darcy two and one, and Mervyn Cooney losing to Brian Webster three and two.
But the Enniscorthy men dug deep, powered by their inspirational and well-respected captain William Hudson, to claim the final four points to record a famous victory.
First up Conor Murphy defeated Patsy Farrell one up, and then in the bottom match Paul Tobin coasted to a five and four win over Tommy Hanley which left victory in the hands of Dean Grannell.
And when he holed out on 17 to claim his match against Martin Keohane on a two and one scoreline, victory was ensured for the Slaneysiders. William Hudson also won his match two and one against Liam O'Donovan to see a final scoreline of 6-3.
It was a spectacular success for all involved, and the panel was completed by Shane Redmond and the injured John Hudson.
This is a huge success for St. Patrick's and, following on from the 2012 inter-county success, again shows the quality of player in the club. The team and club have been subject to congratulations from all over Ireland and the continent.
St. Patrick's is recognised as a top three course in Ireland but it's the only course in Wexford, so the magnitude of this victory is truly enormous. After this victory all looks bright for the future.