Junior Cup Report 23/10/2018

2018 GUI All-Ireland Cups and Shields Finals

AIG Junior Cup
Thurles Golf Club
The 2018 Junior Cup journey began at Cairndhu in June and thanks to Andrew Lane’s
marvellous 72 gross we were leading qualifiers with a score of 305.
We played four rounds of match play to reach the Ulster final against Dunmurry at Shandon
Park. On the way we beat Cairndhu at Whitehead, Moyola Park at Ballyclare, Clandeboye at
Knock and Portsalon at Castlerock. Because these matches were all very close we were
ready to take on a strong Dunmurry team in the Ulster final. On the 12 th August we were
crowned Ulster champions beating Dunmurry 3-2 in a close and tense match.
In the All-Ireland semi-final at Thurles we were drawn against the much fancied Munster
champions Clonmel. With two matches a piece a tense encounter was concluded on the 18 th
green with Eamonn O’Kane holing a bunker shot for birdie and victory. When the ball
disappeared the place erupted with cheers that could be heard back in Belfast such was the
home support that travelled to Thurles.
It was always going to be difficult to come down from such a high and adrenalin charged
atmosphere to compete against the Connacht champions Portumna in the final the
following day.
Portumna proved to be a strong team. Lead by a scratch boy Irish international they won
the first three matches but when called in Gary Currie was all square and Eamonn O’Kane
was 1 up. We came within touching distance of winning an All-Ireland green pennant but it
wasn’t to be. However our achievement to reach an All-Ireland final cannot be
underestimated and it’s something Fortwilliam and the team should be very proud of.
The panel of eight players all played their part throughout the campaign. Marty Colohan,
who played number one all season was disappointed to miss out playing in the final. He
gave way to Gary Brown who played in his second All-Ireland Junior Cup final. He was a
member of the winning Fortwilliam team that won the Junior Cup at Rosslare in 2005. Conor
Bradley and Declan Hughes currently playing off three and two respectively were the
backbone of the team. Although they both played some impressive golf in the final the
opposition had the edge on the greens. Gary Currie and Eamonn O’Kane were undefeated in
both matches at Thurles, a truly suburb effort. Both Andrew Lane, who started the ball
rolling way back in Cairndhu with his 72 gross and John Michael McAuley didn’t play as
much as they would have liked but nevertheless both made a huge contribution to the
success of the team.
The caddies were an extremely important part of our success. There was good energy and
chemistry between the caddies and the players which was so important not only in Thurles
but throughout the season.
The legendary Fortwilliam support made themselves heard not only during the weekend at
Thurles but also at the Ulster final at Shandon Park. Their support at Thurles contributed
greatly to the atmosphere and every team member is extremely grateful that so many
members travelled such a long distance to offer their support and encouragement.
That support continued on our return to Fortwilliam on Sunday evening. When Don Potter
and I entered the Cavehill bar we received a standing ovation which was a truly humbling
experience. It was then it dawned on me that we didn’t so much lose the Junior Cup as win
a silver All-Ireland medal. There really is a silver lining to every cloud.
Tony Campbell
(Junior Cup Captain)
Although the experience at Thurles was uplifting and brought success to Fortwilliam, it was
an expensive trip. I would encourage members and their friends to support the major
fundraiser event ‘Night at the Races’ in the club on Friday 26th October 2018.
Many thanks to Eamonn Lundy and his committee for all their fundraising work and to Ricky
Duckett (Professional) and Aaron Armstrong (KeyaccessNI) for their generous sponsorship.