THE 2012 Senior Cowdy Cup campaign came to an exciting finale at Banbridge Golf Club last Sunday afternoon.
The final, between Banbridge and County Armagh, was played over two legs, home and away.
The written word hardly portrays the tenseness and the drama of the closing stages. You just had to be there.
For those who missed it, this is how it panned out.
THE FIRST LEG AT ARMAGH - The first leg of the final was played at County Armagh Golf Club on Sunday September 23.
The Banbridge team captain, Kenny Stevenson, was hoping for around 15 points from the 32 available. That’s easier said than done.
Colin Wilton, our Barton Shield hero, was out first against John Maguire (2). Colin went off like a tornado and he was four up at the turn. Colin won 4 and 3 and he got three and a half points.
Jonathan Ward never got it easy against C. McGurgan (2) and he failed to register a point.
Rory Madeley, match player extraordinary, proved too good for Jarlath McReynolds (3). Rory was four up after nine holes, went on to win his game and collected three points.
Paul Magennis played Stuart Stevenson (3). Paul was level at the halfway stage and that was worth a half point. The Armagh man took the other three and a half points.
Jonathan Burns had a close match against Neil Cromwell (3) but he couldn’t sneak a point.
Kieran Magennis played Jonathan.Hewitt (5) and he was three down at the turn. He then slipped to 5 down and it looked a lost cause. But Kieran never gives up and he pulled off one of the great comebacks of the season to get a half match and 2 valuable points.
Stuart Hunter started well against James Johnston (5) and he won the first nine one up. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t stay ahead and he lost his game. Still, when it comes to the final analysis, that point may be crucial.
Neil Clydesdale played S. Talbot (5) and, once again, he proved what a tenacious match player he is. Neil was one down after nine holes but came back brilliantly to win his game and take 3 points.
So, at the halfway stage, the scoreboard read: Armagh 20 points, Banbridge 12 points.
It was all very finely balanced going into the second leg, which was played last Sunday at Banbridge.
THE SECOND LEG AT BANBRIDGE: A large crowd of supporters from both Banbridge and Armagh gathered to witness the final stages of the Senior Cowdy Cup final. Everyone predicted that it was going to be close and so it proved. Banbridge needed 20 and a half points for victory while Armagh needed 12 and a half.
Colin Wilton (3) was out first for the home team against John Maguire (2). Golin went off like a hare and he was four up after nine holes.
By the time he reached the 14th, he was three holes ahead of the second game. Colin won 5 and 4 and got three and a half points.
Luke Woods (5) played Jarlath McReynolds (3) and he was ahead for the best part of the game. All credit to the Armagh man who played the last four holes very well to get a half match. That meant 2 points to each team.
Paul Magennis (5) met Stuart Stevenson (3) and he too got off to a flier and was 3 up after 9 holes. He eventually won 3 and 2 and got 3 points.
Armagh still held the lead, 20.5 – 23.5.
The next game would prove to be the turning point of the whole match. With three holes to play, Jonathan Burns (5) was two down against Neil Cromwell (3). But, true battler that he is, Jonathan won the last three holes to win the game one up and take 3 and a half points. That was incredible.
The match was now tied, 24 points each.
Armagh regained the lead when James Johnston (5) beat Kieran Magennis (5) by two holes up. The Armagh man finished 2,3,2 and, with scores like that, he deserved to win. Kieran got one point and the score was now 27-25 in Armagh’s favour.
Neil Clydesdale (5), ever dependable in a tight situation, beat James Conlon (5) by 5 and 4 and lifted the maximum four points.
With two games still out on the course, Banbridge led 29-27.
Armagh were not out of it yet. Craig Talbot (5) beat Stuart Hunter (5) by 3 and 1 and got three and a half points for his team.
Armagh had regained the lead, 29.5 – 30.5.
As it worked out, Rory Madeley (3) was the last man out for Banbridge and he was up against Conor McGurgan (2). Rory has proved over the years to be one of the finest match players in the Banbridge club. In a tense situation he is calmness personified. Rory took an early lead and never relinquished it. He won 4 and 3 and took all four points.
The final score was Banbridge 33.5 Armagh 30.5.
Amid joyous scenes, Alan Jones, the convener of the Cowdy Committee, presented the Senior Cowdy Cup to the Banbridge team captain, Kenny Stevenson.
What a season it has been for Kenny! He won the matchplay championship himself and he captained the victorious Senior Cowdy team. It can’t get much better that that.
Well done, one and all!