THE semi-finals and final of the Ulster section of the Barton Shield were played at Lisburn Golf Club last Sunday.
The first semi-final pitted Banbridge against Dunmurry. The second semi-final was between Portstewart and Malone.
Banbridge were at full strength against old rivals Dunmurry and they knew that it would be a very close affair. They couldn’t have been more right.
Connor Doran and Jim Carvill played Darren Crowe and Ian Moore.
Rory Leonard and Colin Wilton played Stephen Crowe and Glen McAuley.
The standard of the golf in both games was superb. Every hole was fiercely contested.
Coming into the closing stages, Dunmurry had the upper hand. They led by three holes with only six to play.
It was nail-biting stuff, that’s for sure. Connor and Jim won the last three holes and that turned everything on its head. Jim’s tee-shot at the long par three final hole was the stuff of dreams. The ball skimmed the bunker and finished up a few feet from the hole. It was a stroke of genius. Connor and Jim won three holes up.
Rory and Colin kept their nerve brilliantly and finished up only two holes down.
Banbridge had won their semi-final by one hole up. It was an incredible finish to a fantastic golf match.
Portstewart won the second semi-final, beating Malone by one hole up.
The final, between Banbridge and Portstewart was a bit of an anticlimax.
Connor, Jim, Rory and Colin were all in scintillating form and they were coming up with birdies and eagles all over the place.
Jim Carvill and Connor Doran played Gerard Bradley and Mark Kilgore.
Rory Leonard and Colin Wilton played Mark Windybank and Ainsley Stewart.
The Banbridge quartet were just too good and, with 11 holes to play over the two games, they were 12 holes up. That was it all over. Banbridge were once again the Ulster Champions. Their supporters, and there were plenty of them, went wild and who could blame them.
Banbridge will now represent Ulster in the All-Ireland Finals in Kinsale on September 19-20. That’s something to look forward to.
Meantime, let us bask in the glory of being Ulster champions in the Barton Shield.