CASTLEMARTYR'S Sean Duggan captured the Ford Junior Scratch Trophy, winning six rounds of competitive matchplay to claim the biggest prize for handicap golfers in Cork.
The teenager chalked up six impressive wins in his way to his biggest win to date.
“I’m over the moon with the win in such a big competition. I never in a million years thought I’d win it, I was just happy to qualify,” said Sean on Sunday evening after the six round marathon.
The three handicapper was in good form going into the event, his first time competing in it.
“I was playing well to be fair, I felt my game was in good shape. We had junior cup practice on Thursday and it was great to get a good game in before the weekend started.”
It was the 50th anniversary year, and the host club were determined not to allow Covid-19 to cancel the event.
Muskerry Captain Brian Twomey was certain the event would go on.
“The Ford Junior Scratch Cup was a challenge to reschedule with the time it takes to run the event. "However, being its 50th anniversary since its first introduction and the fact we believe it’s the greatest Junior Scratch Event in Munster if not the country it was more a case of when rather than if we would run it.”
The three day matchplay event normally takes place over the Easter weekend, but this year courses were closed just before the two day qualifier was scheduled to take place in late March.
Once the course re-opened and competitions were permitted, the rescheduled qualifier took place and attracted almost 300 golfers.
From there the top 64 advanced to the matchplay stages which commenced last Friday.
32 first round matches got underway early on Friday morning with the winners playing the second round again that afternoon.
Former winners David Taylor and John McSweeney lost out on Friday as did Muskerry Captain Brian Twomey.
By Friday night 48 matches had been completed, the course was in great condition and while there were some heavy showers, sixteen golfers were happy to come back for the third round on Saturday morning.
And after Saturday’s quarter-final there were just four golfers left. Home favourite Brian Kirby took on Fota Island’s Declan Geary in the semi-final and the Muskerry man came out with the win.
In the second semi-final it was the battle of the young guns. Cork’s Morgan Cain was celebrating his 17th birthday as he faced Sean Duggan.
The 18 year old from Castlemartyr was the form player, finishing one of his earlier matches on the 12th green.
He took an early lead against Cain, but the Cork man battled back and it was the 17th before Duggan finally confirmed his place in the final.
The final was a close fought affair, Kirby drew first blood on the opening hole with a birdie to go on up.
The scores were reversed on the second when Duggan birdied but Kirby birdied the third to retake the lead. The Muskerry member doubled his lead in the 4th and held a two hole lead until Sean won the 8th.
Duggan found himself two down again after the 10th but crucially won the 12th and 14th to bring the match back to all square. Kirby had a great sav on the 15th after missing the green and he won the 16th with a par to take a on hole lead into the final two holes.
Duggan fought back, he won 17 to tie the match and then won it on the 18th in front of a large crowd. Sean was delighted to look back on his three-day adventure.
“My first game on Friday morning was one of the toughest I had, however I scrambled well to win it on 18.
" I also had a great game against my chauffeur for the week Eric Walsh who is also a Castlemartyr member.
"The semi-final against Morgan cain which was a great battle. Myself and Brian had a great battle in the final and he was an absolute gentlemen.”
Asked what went well over the weekend, the 18 year old was very happy with his form.
“I think every part of the game, I drove it quite well and course management played a huge part too. "My putting seemed to be a lot better in the morning matches than the evening ones, tiredness could’ve played a part in that.
"Credit where it’s due to the greenkeepers the course was in the best condition I’ve played it. The wind and rain played a huge factor to it too. The course was in great condition.
"The greens were rolling very nicely, you definitely need to be below the hole that’s for sure.”
The joy of winning a major title masked the tiredness of six rounds in three days, a mental and physical challenge that many full time golfers would struggle with.
Duggan was delighted with support from family, friends and Castlemartyr members.
“I would also like to thank everyone who came out to support me, and I’d like to apologise to my parents for making them very nervous when my two matches went down the 18th!
"I’d like to thank our captain Eddie Harty for his support and he told me a few weeks ago that “ I hope your not playing junior cup this year because I’d love to see you in muskerry on Sunday evening.
"To everyone else from Castlemartyr that came to support me, I couldn’t have done it without them."