EDMONDSTOWN SO CLOSE BUT ARDEE PREVAIL 3-2
On a wonderful August day in Killeen Castle, Ardee from Co Louth progressed to the All-Ireland semi-finals and Edmondstown had to be satisfied with playing their part in a fine match.
Hope sprung eternal on a sunny day in the sprawling acres near Dunshaughlin, Co Meath. If you don’t know it, Killeen Castle is a Jack Nicklaus-designed track that is so spread out that they could have a massive practice ground alongside every hole. It’s a particularly difficult course on which to observe a match, each hole standing alone like an individual piece of perfect golfing architecture.
And then there was the match, that started so well, then drifted away from us before a late comeback that left us tantalizingly close to a place in a golf’s promised land. Alas it was not to be for Frank Gallen and Richard Green and their intrepid team.
The nature of the course made keeping up with the changes in each match difficult. Eamonn Walsh and Kevin Maguire led off with a swagger, 1 up early, all square after 4, and then 3 down after 11. Their late comeback kept the spirits up and gave us our first point, winning on a 17th hole that would be so dramatic later on.
Match 2 saw Niall Clarke and Gerard Holmes start with a flourish only for their hopes to founder on a losing run of holes at the end of the first nine. They couldn’t come back on this day and were beaten by a solid pair playing excellent better-ball golf, 3 and 1.
Conor Devlin and Michael Maher were steady and ahead for almost the entire day. 2 up for most of the journey, they lost the treacherous 17th but prevailed up the magnificent 18th with the Castle a fitting backdrop to their 1 hole victory.
Robin McNaughton and Colm Fallon couldn’t tap into the incredible form they displayed in Delgany in the Quarter final. This match was never easy for them, they struggled for their best form and were always playing catch-up. Their defeat gave Ardee their first point, on the 15th by a margin of 4 and 3.
And the final match kept the best till last. Tom McGrath and Paul Byrne were strangely out of sync for the first 8 holes and 5 down. If there’s a word that best describes this team, it’s resilience. Tom and Paul showed that in abundance as they won 9, 12, 14 and 16 to be just one down and with momentum on their side.
In the gathering gloom on the 17th tee we had the honor. The drives were wayward, Tom going right to a watery grave, Paul left into a cavernous bunker. Both Ardee players found the fairway. Playing 3 from the tee, Tom was out of the hole. Paul laid up out of the bunker but still had a difficult approach with water on the right. For once in this campaign an Edmondstown player couldn’t quite produce the miracle shot required – and Ardee had the 2 and 1 win that propelled them into the All Ireland final – and meant the end of our incredible journey.
This team has given everything to this challenge. They have sacrificed their individual golf in 2019 for their team and the club. We can’t thank them enough. Frank and Richard and the entire squad want to express their appreciation for the encouragement and support of our Captains Tom and Anne, and President Mary throughout the campaign. To get to a Leinster final was thrilling and the large band of supporters there to witness the end of this run were proud of how Edmondstown played, and especially how we conducted ourselves in defeat. Hats off to you all.