BEREHAVEN, the All-Ireland Jimmy Bruen Shield champions received a heroes welcome when they finally landed back in Castletownbere after their heroic win in Donegal Golf Club.
Against all odds, the small nine-hole club from West Cork beat all in front of them to claim their first All-Ireland title.
A welcoming party outside the Wild Atlantic Bar in Adrigole set the tone, and the celebrations were in full flow when the team reached the square in Castletownbere.
Berehaven 2020 Captain Keith Hegarty was delighted that the town came out to celebrate the win.
“The team got an amazing welcome back in the town, it was almost like 1997 when Beara won the county. And when the team got out to the club there were flares and fireworks and bonfires to greet the team.”
As well as lifting the spirit in the community, the golf club itself has also seen a big lift from their provincial and national success.
According to the Hegarty, Berehaven has benefited from a big increase in numbers, with a large number of new junior golfers joining the club over the past twelve months.
In the early stages of the first lockdown the members came out in force to get to work on the course.
Much clearing work was done, opening up the course and the great views, and all of sudden there was an influx of new members.
When competitive golf returned, the inter-club teams fared well, the Pierce Purcell and Senior Cup teams progressed through a few rounds and the Junior Cup team made it as far as the Munster finals.
It was the Bruen team who kept going and they put on a great performance in Killarney in September to win a Munster title.
Although their trip to Donegal Golf Club for the All Ireland finals was delayed from the original October date, they made the most of their opportunity, and now they have a green All-Ireland pennant to hand beside their blue Munster pennant.
Berehaven faced Baltinglass in the All-Ireland Final, and the West Cork side put on a great display of golf to win 3.5-1.5 in the five-match final. While Luke O’Sullivan and Declan Dunne got the winning point, it was a team performance.
Seamus Spencer and Brendan O’Driscoll won their match on the 15th green while Chris Downey and David Kelly secured a win with an impressive 6&5 win.
Liam Hanley and Gavin Power lost their match and the final pairing Dean Hegarty and Lorcan Harrington were called in after the win was secured.
The win weas secured when Declan Dunne and Luke O’Sullivan had a 4&2 win to secure the title for the West Cork club.
“You cannot imagine how good it feels. It’s the best moment of my life,” said a delighted Declan Dunne after the win.
“There’s a pile of kids playing, and hopefully more kids and adults will follow,” O’Sullivan added, when speaking about the club.
“Most people don’t even know where we’re from. So many people said how far away we are. It’s unbelievable.”
It was a first national title for the nine hole club, and Team Captain Joe O’Neill was delighted with the win.
“I can't even describe how much this means to all of us, words can't describe it,” said Joe when he accepted the trophy.
“We've been put down I don't know how many times, because of where we are from and the size of our club.
"All I can say is that we are a small club with a big heart and I think that showed.”
He added a few words for the hosts and the organisers, the staging of the finals were a bit later than originally planned but Berehaven weren’t complaining.
“I’d like to thank Donegal Golf Club, the course was Immaculate. Golf Ireland have done an absolutely amazing job in organizing the event. "Obviously with the restrictions it's a lot different and there's a lot more work goes into it.”
Given the restrictions that have been in place since October, several people questioned if the finals would go ahead, but Golf Ireland delivered on their commitment to complete the competition.
Under the current Covid restrictions, Berehaven were limited to 18 people in Donegal, including the players.
That meant that there were many people waiting on updates as the semi-final and final progressed.
Joss Crowley was on hand to make sure nobody missed any of the action. He was streaming the action om Facebook and there was plenty of interest from West Cork.
“The reaction was great, there was up over 150 watching in at the end of the final. That included some people who I know were casting onto smart televisions, so there was more than one watching on several devices.
"I met lots of people who were very appreciative of the live videos over the weekend. I'd say there wasn't a lot of work done by people over the two days.
"Liam Hanley’s brother Kieran told me he had a gang in his office in Dubai the day of the semi-final watching and they were getting into it like they were all from Castletownbere themselves.
"I won't be doing live streaming again but for crowd restrictions the need was there and it was no big issue is doing it really.
"I’d like to thank Anne Marie, Daniel and Carla from Golf Ireland for sorting out access to the event.”
As the national finals were taking place in Donegal, the early stages of the 2021 Golf Ireland inter-club competitions were starting.
Berehaven will be taking on Ring of Kerry in their first round Jimmy Bruen match in the next week or so as clubs begin their quest to claim a pennant in 2021.