On a bitterly cold Easter Monday evening, the final of the Joe Bray winter league took place in Collinstown. Three teams qualified for this early season final over a three week league format. The league table-toppers were Rene Bloem, Martin Carroll and Mick Heffernan. Second place in the table was Tommy Archbold, John Flanaghan and Mark Foran and the third spot in the final went to John Browne, Garry Middleton and Leo Ryan.
After the order of play was decided, it was John Browne’s team that took to the course first to kick off the final. An opening birdie in the 3 person scramble was followed by 3 pars and it looked like it was going to be difficult for the Mullingar team. A good birdie putt from Middleton on the 5th though kick-started them and they ended up birdying 12 of the last 14 holes to record a very impressive +13 in the v-par format. Next up was Tommy Archbold’s team. An early bogie on the second broke their momentum and the conditions got the better of the team as they finished with a +6 total. The final team on the course was the highly fancied Rene Bloem’s team. A good start was followed by solid play throughout the round but missed birdie putts on 16 and 18 meant that they finished 2 behind John’s team on +11.
Browne’s team continued where they left off in the second round with a birdie on the first. Shots on two and three were also taken advantage off but a rare mistake on 4 resulted in par. The team kicked into top gear after that though and won each of the next 11 holes including superb chip- in on 8 from Leo, par on 11 from Garry and hole-in-one on 13 from John. They missed on 16 and 17 but again birdied 18 to finish with +15 for the second round. This gave Browne’s team a total of +28 and it was a score that would prove too much for the others to catch. Rene’s team scored +12 in the second round to clinch the runners-up prize on +23 and Tommy’s team scored a respectable +10 for the second 18 to finish on a +16 total.
Kathleen Bray was on hand to present the shield with that bore her late husband’s name and she was also the proud sponsor of the winner’s prizes. Winning captain John Browne mentioned his pride at winning the Joe Bray memorial shield and had some respectful words to say about the great man himself. John also thanked Kathleen for her sponsorship and the other teams for the sporting final. He also thanked the sizable crowd who attended the final in the cold testing conditions. Finally he thanked his team-mates Garry and Leo and stated that the win meant a lot to all three of them.