JOHN McSWEENEY was the last man standing in Muskerry.
He overcame a 300 to 1 battle to win the 2021 Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy.
It was the 52nd staging of the only stroke and matchplay competition for handicap golfers.
John got through the initial qualifiers to earn a place in the final 64, and from there he took out six challengers on his way to the title.
What made it more special for John was the fact it was his second win, and it came 18 years after his first win in 2003.
“It was a very emotional win for me, this competition has given me so much joy and heartache down through the years,” said McSweeney after the win had sunk in.
“It proves how good golf is when you can win the same competition 18 years apart, no other sport is like that.”
In fairness to McSweeney he is still playing to a low single figure handicap, and he’s still able to meet the physical and mental challenge of taking on a six round matchplay event.
He didn’t get an easy ride through the three days either, he was down in several rounds and a few went to the 18th.
“All my matches were competitive but two really stood out. Saturday morning I was three down after ten holes, and I was two under for the back nine to win.
"I had a great match with Colin Hussey on Sunday morning winning on the 18th. It was a great victory for the older brigade.”
As for three wins, well that’s certainly an option for John seeing as the event has thrown up winners from all age categories over the years.
“My body certainly isn't getting younger as it took four days from my right knee to recover. As for winning at our time is never been done there's only four of us who have wanted twice I have played in this event over 20 times and will try again in the future.”
John had been receiving plenty of encouragement in the run up to the event.
As manager of McGuirks Cork store, he meets more golfers than most. And many of those golfers were back the following week to congratulate the Muskerry man on his fine win.
Although he was a previous winner, nobody had won in after such a long gap. John didn’t focus on the stats, he went out and played each of the six rounds.
He went on to win all six to be the last man standing on Sunday afternoon in Muskerry.
The event had a new sponsor on board this year. Ryan's SuperValu became the title sponsor of the prestigious event, taking over from Ford who had sponsored the tournament for over 20 years.
First staged in 1970 the competition has remained a key part of the Muskerry calendar for over fifty years.
It is also the only six round open matchplay competition for handicap golfers. McSweeney now becomes one of an elite group of multiple winners. Mitchelstown’s Clem Leonard was the most recent and Liam Harte and Ger O’Shea also won twice.
Morgan O’Donovan, Eoghan O'Connell and Niall Turner all won the tournament before turning professional. Covid again forced Muskerry to move the event from the traditional Easter date but already plans are in place to run the 2022 event in mid April with the first matchplay round starting on Good Friday.
Each year the event attracts a full timesheet. Again the qualifiers approved to be very competitive, with over 300 golfers competing over the two days.
The top 64 faced in two a potentially grueling weekend, starting at first light on Friday morning the eventual finalists wood play six rounds of golf offered the next three days.
By lunchtime Saturday the tournament had reached the halfway point, with three rounds complete there were just eight golfers left. By Saturday evening there were just four and they would face off on Sunday until just one was left.
Muskerry as expected was in super condition for the long weekend of golf.
The greens were running fast and the firm fairways give golfers that summer feeling when playing the MacKenzie layout.
The recent tree clearing programme which was completed earlier this year has made a huge difference around the top of the course with many areas opened up giving golfers much better lines under course and great fields of the surrounding area.
Doneraile held their senior scratch cup on Sunday and the north Cork club had Irish Close champion Peter O’Keeffe out trying to defend his trophy and win it for the third year in a row.
Local man Tim O’Mahony had other ideas, the Doneraile member went around the course in a two under par 66 to win the title by five strokes from Andrew McCormack.
O’Keeffe and Kinsale’s Gary Ward also finished with 71 and Cathal Butler was fifth with a 72.
Cobh also held their senior scratch cup on Sunday with Niall O’Connor winning with a 76.
This weekend attention will turn to Cork Golf Club and the Munster Strokeplay.
Holder Peter O’Keeffe will have the challenge of trying to retain the Cork Scratch Cup which he won last September.
Recent records show that retaining the title is hard with nobody managing to put together back to back wins since 2008 when Niall Gorey won for a second time.
The move from the traditional May date, and the shorter days have resulted in a reduced field for the 72 hole event.
Just 66 players will tee it up on Saturday morning, the two tee start gets underway at 7.30am with the second round scheduled to start at 12.30pm.
Mel Deasy will be in the last group to tee off in the afternoon, with a second round tee time of 2.10pm his will be hoping for a smart pace of play to get back before the light starts to go.
The top 39 plus ties will come back on Sunday for the final 36 holes.