East Cork Golf Club land first All-Ireland title at PGA National Slieve Russell

'We were in an All-Ireland final 29 years ago and came up short but the lads stepped up here'
East Cork Golf Club land first All-Ireland title at PGA National Slieve Russell

East Cork team, winners of the AIG Mens Jimmy Bruen All-Ireland Pennant during the AIG Cups and Shields All-Ireland Finals 2022 at Slieve Russell Golf Club, Ballyconnell in Cavan. Picture: Thos Caffrey/Golffile

EAST Cork Golf Club make history by claiming the club’s first ever All-Ireland title as they held off a spirited Coollattin comeback at PGA National Slieve Russell.

Both captains named unchanged lineups from those that beat Clontarf and Killymoon respectively in the semi-finals and treated the large galleries in attendance to some scintillating play in glorious sunshine in County Cavan.

East Cork came flying from the starting blocks, taking early leads in three of the five matches, aided Shane Connor who holed out from the trees for eagle on the opening hole, but Wicklow’s Coollattin were intent not to let the Munster men have their own way and took control of the final two matches on course.

East Cork’s lead-off pairing Eric Cunningham and Daniel Coffey ruthlessly claimed the opening victory with a six-and-five win and Stephen O’Brien and Sean Harrigan led by four before Tony Egan and Dermot Nolan began to turn the screw.

In the third match, despite losing the first hole to an eagle, Coollattin’s pairing of Cormac Redmond and Paddy Myers fought back and took the lead after eight holes before the pendulum swung in East Cork’s favour again after the turn and Connor and Scott Coyle Garde went three-up after 13.

Any early celebration plans were scuppered, however, as Egan and Nolan’s revival gathered momentum and the Wicklow men won 15, 16 and 17 to leave the match all-square playing the final hole.

A superb par on the 17th for Connor and Garde moved East Cork one win away from victory, but with the second pairings tied on the 18th, the fourth tied on the 16th and Coollattin leading in the final match, the tie was balanced on a knife-edge.

O’Brien and Harrigan held their nerve on the final hole, with the former holing a slippery four-footer to spark wild scenes of celebration from the large and colourful East Cork following who’d made the long trip to Ulster.

Afterwards, an ecstatic East Cork captain Danny Meade paid tribute to the challenge that had been laid down by Coollattin. 

“I was very, very nervous out there. Even though we got an early lead, they gave a fantastic account of themselves and fought to the bitter end. We can take nothing away from them, they were brilliant. 

"We’ve never had a green pennant [awarded to All-Ireland champions], we were in an All-Ireland final, what, 29-years-ago and came up short and for a while there I thought we were coming up short again, but the lads have all been brilliant and they never let us down. I’ve said since April, it’s not about individuals but players, selectors, everybody was all in this together.” 

Harrigan and O’Brien were quick to pay tribute to the hundred-strong following from the Rebel county. 

“They mean the world to us’” said O’Brien, “many of them are squad players, family members, general supporters, and they all made the four-hour drive up here yesterday and many more today. They stayed in hotels, shared beds, slept in cars, everything to be here today. And they really helped up over the line.” 

Harrigan, who lagged his long uphill-putt to four feet, which O’Brien then holed, had rushed to embrace his partner, unaware of the chaotic scenes behind as the East Cork faithful charged towards the green. 

“I had no idea what was going on behind, I was just fixated on the putt and when I saw it was going in, I made a beeline straight to him.”

Asked about the celebratory plans, Meade wasn’t shy, quipping “We’ve behaved ourselves all week, but we’ll not be behaving ourselves tonight. We’re going back to Cork and we’re going mad. Midleton won’t know what hit it.”

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