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Ireland make history with narrow win

Ireland won the Men’s Home internationals for an historic fourth year in a row as they snatched victory over England by just a half game point. The teams had each won their earlier two matches against Scotland and Wales and they met in a title showdown on the final day of the championship at Moortown, Yorkshire.

After 36 holes of ups and downs, drama and suspense, they halved their match with 7.5 points apiece. But, over the three days, Ireland had won 26.5 games to England’s 26 – and, once again, the Raymond Trophy will be travelling home with them.

For Ireland it was the signal for celebrations with team captain Tony Goode, bowing out on a high after his three years in office. Not only is this the first time that Ireland has successfully won the trophy four years in a row, but he believes he is the first captain to amass three consecutive wins.

“It’s historic, an amateur record,” he commented. “The boys at the front led as I expect them to and the boys at the back did exceptionally well. It was an absolutely great performance.”

For England, there was huge disappointment once again. They lost this championship last year on the last putt on the last green. They lost the gold medal in the European team championships a few weeks ago on the last putt on the last green. Today, they were denied victory when they were within touching distance of claiming the prize.

Ireland cast the first blow in the foursomes, which they won 3-2 after the final game of the morning was decided by stunning golf between the England partnership of Jake Burnage and Bradley Moore and their opponents, Colm Campbell and John Ross Galbraith. Ireland birdied 15, England birdied 16, both pairs birdied 17, but Ireland went up the last 1up and held on to their advantage.

As the singles unfolded, it was England who had the upper hand for much of the afternoon. Although Ireland led in the top two games the rest were going England’s way and a narrow win looked in sight.

Dan Brown and Will Whiteoak put their winning points on the board and Matthew Jordan squeezed a half out of the top game. But Ireland were also making ground with the wins of Conor O’Rourke, Caolan Rafferty and Colin Fairweather and a half from Alex Gleeson – and it became clear that the match would go down to the wire.

There was still hope. If England could win the last three games the title would be theirs and Josh Hilleard, Bradley Moore and Jake Burnage were all up after 12 holes. Hilleard was taken to the 16th and Moore to the 17th before they secured their points and, as the pressure grew, Burnage dropped one behind on 17 with a bogey after his tee shot was bunkered. It was the end of England’s chances, but he won the 18th with a solid par halving his game and the overall scoreline.