THERE was a fitting finish to the AIG Cups & Shields last weekend, as Berehaven surprised many by winning the Jimmy Bruen Shield.
The small club, with just over 100 male members had an impressive semi-final win over a fancied Tramore side on Saturday morning.
They followed that with a win over Shannon in the afternoon to claim their biggest inter-club win in the history of the club.
And that may be the last Munster final as new structures come into place in 2021.
The win was Berehaven’s first Cups and Shields win and they now hold a coveted Munster Pennant.
The small West Cork club would have been considered an outside chance before the semi-finals, but they came through in style with wins over Tramore and Shannon.
Berehaven, having never won a Munster title were determined to make the most of their opportunity at the finals in Killarney’s Mahonys Point.
Having won already in Killarney in an earlier round, when the West Cork club beat the host club on the final green, they came back to Killarney with confidence. A good semi-final performance saw the beat a fancied Tramore side and that meant that team captain Joe O’Neill stuck with the semi-final pairings. There was no joy for Fota Island who lost out to Shannon in the second semi-final. As one Cork side headed home, Berehaven headed for the first tee to take on Shannon.
Berehaven got the better of the early exchanges and led through the front nine. As the matches reached the final few holes Brendan O’Driscoll and Seamus Spicer in the third match brought home the first point with a 4&3 win, but Shannon quickly levelled it with a win on the 18th. David Kelly and Chris Downey added a second point for the Cork side but again Shannon levelled winning the fourth match on the 17th green. With the match at 2-2 all eyes turned to the 15th where Berehaven were four up. Shannon weren’t prepared to roll over and a birdie on the short par four extended the match. Shannon finally ran out of holes when Lorcan Harrington rolled his eagle putt to less than two feet. That meant a certain birdie for a half and the match was sportingly conceded. After the unusual sight of fist and elbow bumps replacing the normal celebrations, Berehaven were delighted to take the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield and the Munster pennant back to West Cork for the first time. The win is a boost for the club and the town as team Captain Joe O’Neill described.
“This is absolutely massive for the club, I can’t put into words what it means to win.” That was the emotional reaction of O’Neill after they won the Munster Final. “We had a tight match here in Killarney in an earlier round and we took great experience from it. We definitely had a bit of grit when it came to it” added O’Neill. “You can only name 14 in the panel and being honest there was 22 or 23 of us realistically, and it was all nip and tuck. There was nobody there who shouldn’t have been there, we had a very strong panel. It’s one of the best teams in the club. I have been playing goes here for 20 years and it’s the best team they are seen. We’re going to take advantage of this and hopefully so something in the All-Irelands.”
With Golf Ireland becoming the new governing body for sport in Ireland, this could mark the last Munster finals. For the past few decades one qualifier from each of the four Munster regions went on to the Munster semi-finals, with the winner of the final claiming a famous blue provincial pennant. The Munster champion would then advance to the All Ireland semi-final in September. It’s understood that under a new competition structure, the Munster region will send two representatives to the All-Ireland quarter finals. Leinster will have three qualifiers, Ulster and Munster will have two, and Connacht will have one. The indications are that the provincial finals will no longer take place, meaning an end to the Munster pennant. The transition to Golf Ireland is on track with regions now electing their representatives. Nominations closed last week for the regional executives of the new governing body. Current Munster Branch Chairman Jim Long was the only nominee and he’s now likely to become the first chairman of the new provincial body. There are eight nominees for the three positions on the Cork administrative zone. Phil Cooney and Dave Prendergast are the two current council members going forward while Mary Bergin, Marion Pattenden are currently on the ILGU regional executive. Michael Hayes, James Naylor, Trish Riordan and Sarah O’Brien are new nominees that seeking election. Voting on the officer positions has commenced and voting for ordinary members of the regional executive will start in two weeks.