The Final of the Tipperary Spring League took place in a sun-drenched Clonmel last Saturday morning when Lakeside took on Tipperary Hills.
The Hills had been installed as the bookies favourites as a new look Templemore team were a little short on experience. The doubles began with Martin McCormack sticking it to the first pin. No nerves from Grandad.(Yet . Partnered with Mark Cahill they proved too strong for John Hanley and Johnny Lyons eventually recording a comfortable win. Next up were Ian Delahunty and Alan Maher and despite carrying good form into the final they found it difficult to get going while their opponents, Johnny Martin and Richard Swords were in sparkling form and recorded the first point of the day for the Hills. Game 3 saw the PRO paired with debutant Michael Bourke against Michael Brennan and the vastly experienced Anthony Culhane. 3 down after 7 and facing humiliation the boys birdied 5 of the next 6 to bring the match level. A Culhane birdie on 16 and a half on 17 gave the Hills boys the edge on the last. Inexplicably Culhane missed a 4 footer for the match leaving the Loughmore man with a very tricky 4 footer of his own for an unlikely half. Cool as you like he rolled it in and Lakeside got out of jail. Bourke was heard saying afterwards that having the PRO with him was akin to having Seve beside him. The final doubles match saw Captain Michael Fennell and Brian Cahill get off to a great start against DJ Lynch and JP Mullally. They built a healthy 3 up lead but a very strong finish from the Hills pair including a brilliant putt from Lynch on 18 saw them secure a one-up victory giving them an overall lead of 2.5 to 1.5. Papers, Anto and Paddy Quinn looked worried in the gallery ---there wasn’t a sign of the barman. Onto the singles where Grandad was up against Johnny Lyons. Martin got away to a great start but even though 20 years his Senior Johnny never gave up and eventually reeled him with a great putt on the last. Mark Cahill played very steady stuff to dispose of John Hanley to ensure the Hills didn’t get too far ahead. Chairman Mao eventually realised we were in Clonmel and played a brilliant singles match to dispose of Richard Swords. Fresh from his great half in the doubles the Loughmore man carried his good form into the singles and comfortably dispatched Michael Brennan 4&3. The next two matches resulted in wins for the Hills with John Martin (-9 for 16) defeating Dela 3&2 and Anthony Culhane (-9 for 14) whopping the PRO 5&4. Neither Lakeside player could have any excuse as their opponents never gave them a look-in with a barrage of birdies in each game. The score was now 5.5 to 4.5 to the Hills with only 2 matches left meaning one more point would see the Tipp Town boys over the line. Michael Fennell ensured it would go down to the wire with a scintillating display against DJ Lynch (-9 for 15). Great leadership when required. Wife and Son were proud as punch. So all square with Brian Cahill battling it out with JP Mullally. The Drom man was 2 down on the 16th tee-box. Pat Collins was starting the bus. Hold your horses says Mary Quinn -- this is not over yet. Birdie from Brian, lip-out from JP. One down. 2 to play. Par from Brian, another lip-out from JP for par. All square. Josie and Lily were lighting one off the other. Brian had the honour but pulled his tee-shot left leaving him a very awkward chip. JP hit the best shot of the day to 18 but how the ball did not spin back down to the pin only the man above will know. Brian’s chip left him with a tricky 5 footer. JP’s putt was like a marble on Patricks Hill and eventually came to rest 7 feet past with the return putt up the hill falling agonisingly short. So down to the Drom man to sink the winning putt. Mam and Dad couldn’t bear to look. Never doubted him as Brian showed nerves of steel to stun the Hills and snatch a most unlikely victory. The relief on the Thatchers face said it all
Frances, Liam and Seamus danced with joy. Helen was beaming giving out the loot. Cue a long day of celebration. Commiserations to the Hills who played their part in a really brilliant Final. Who needs the Ryder Cup !!!!!!!