Michael Flynn Claret Jug – Last 16 Review

2013 Michael Flynn Claret Jug finalists - Stephen Ruane & John Browne

2013 Michael Flynn Claret Jug finalists – Stephen Ruane & John Browne

On Saturday morning last the knockout stages of this year’s Claret Jug took place on a sunny summer’s morning. Sponsor Michael Flynn was on-hand to oversee the draw and indeed, the draw threw up some very exciting matches.

First on the tee-box was Darren Reilly against Moira Nugent. This was always going to be a tough assignment for Moira and indeed the task proved too great with Darren running out a comfortable winner. Next up was Paddy Gorman against Ena Clinton. On paper this should have been an easy enough task for Paddy but as we know – our great sport is not played on paper. Ena has a history of great wins in 18 hole matchplay and once again she played a very solid competitive game. In the end Paddy came through on the 17th but not without a big scare from the Mullingar woman. The third match drawn out was Paddy Bardon against John McDonald. Unfortunately John was unable to attend on the day giving Paddy a free passage to the quarter-finals. Fourth up was potentially one of the matches of the round. Former winner George Carolan against the current Intermediate County Champion, Stephen Ruane. Ruane continued his good form and won comfortably enough with holes to spare.

Next up was Willie Ayres against John Flanagan. John produced some wonderful Pitch & Putt in this match to close it out on the 15th. The sixth match on the course was between John Browne and Mark Ayres. This was a scrappy affair which John eventually won on the 16th. Good buddies Stewie Tarleton and Mick Scally drew each other next. “Scall” has arguably been the most improved player in the club this year and once again proved this by beating his good mate in this one. The final game was arguably the highest standard of the round. Martin Carter came up against the defending champion Clive Byrne. Despite Martin shooting 5 under par for the round, he had to accept defeat on the 17th hole.

Browne holes a long putt against Flanagan in the semi-final

Browne holes a long putt against Flanagan in the semi-final

And so on to the quarter-finals – the first quarter final on the course was Paddy Bardon and John Flanagan. This was nip and tuck the whole way with John Flanagan eventually coming out on top on the 17th hole. Next out was Stephen Ruane against Paddy Gorman. Paddy unfortunately hit a few wayward shots in this one and Stephen closed out the match early. The third quarter-final went right to the wire with Clive Byrne beating Mick Scally on the final hole. The last of the quarters was a very high standard match between John Browne and Darren Reilly. John eventually won the match on the 17th after making 10 birdies in the round.

And so we were down to the final 4. The first of the semi-finals saw a repeat of last year’s final between Stephen Ruane and Clive Byrne. This was always going to be a mammoth battle and it did not disappoint. Both men played superb Pitch and Putt and could not be separated as the headed to the final tee-box. Stephen found the middle of the green with his pitch but Clive was a fraction long and caught the bank to bounce to 8 metres beyond the green. The up and down proved to be too difficult and he made bogie to leave Ruane with an easy two putts to seal his place in the final – the Mullingar man only needed one though as he rolled in his birdie to win.

The second semi-final was between John Browne and John Flanagan. This was Browne’s first time to get to this stage and he was in no mood to stop here. A barrage of birdies on the opening 9 holes left him 2 up. Another birdie on the 10 put him 3 up with 8 to go – it was a lead he was never going to surrender. Browne eventually closed out the match on the 16th.

This left the line up for Tuesday’s final between John Browne and Stephen Ruane. These two good friends grew up together as next door neighbours and indeed had a make-shift Pitch & Putt course in their back gardens. The love for the game was in both from a very young age. They contested last year’s Gavigan cup final where Stephen was victorious on the 38th hole and once again I suspect that it will be just as tight this time around. One things for sure, it will be a high quality final and well worth a watch – looking forward to seeing you all in Collinstown this Tuesday at 6.30pm

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