England take the title
We were treated to a titanic battle on a day when conditions really tested the players at the 2018 Home Internationals. In the title decider between Ireland and England the opening exchanges in the first three games of the morning foursomes were nip and tuck as the players tried to get their country off to a fast start in the battle for the coveted trophy. Ireland looking to defend their title made their mark first in game four, as Cannon and Sugrue moved into an early two up lead for Ireland. In the final game the strong Irish pair of Mullarney and McLarnon were also playing well and moved to three up after seven holes against Poppleton and Gill so giving Ireland an early advantage.
In the top game a birdie on the tenth gave Dawson and O’Keeffe a slender lead which they extended to 2up after twelve and at this stage the momentum was firmly with the Irish. However, the English pair of Wilson and Hague came back strongly winning four out of the last six holes to win 2up on the eighteenth including pitching in for eagle on the final hole.
The match of the morning featured the unbeaten pairs of Purcell and Power of Ireland and the two Toms, Plumb and Sloman from England. The Irish pair were two under par through nine to be 1up, extending that lead to two through another birdie on the tenth. Still one up after seventeen the point looked to be heading the Irish way but a birdie three for Plumb and Sloman on the last gained the English pair a battling half.
Waite and Long from England took a 2up lead into the back nine in their game against Rafferty and Yates. Three further birdies on the back nine for the English pair helped them to a comfortable 4&3 win.
After at one stage looking like they would take a healthy advantage into the afternoon singles Ireland were now behind on the scoreboard but looked like taking the final two points with both pairs comfortably ahead at the turn. Cannon and Sugrue extended the advantage they held in their game with two birdies on the back nine as they closed off a 5
&4 win, with Sugrue maintain his unbeaten record in the process.
Game five proved to be a lot closer with both Mullarney and McLarnon and Poppleton and Gill under par on the back nine with Ireland levelling up the overall match after the Irish pair birdied the seventeenth to close off the match 2&1.
With the overall match perfectly poised at 2.5 2.5 and with everything to play for in the singles it was England who made the better start with Waite and Wilson taking useful early leads in their respective matches. Power, two up after five helped to redress the balance for Ireland with all other games very close after the opening holes.
Andrew Wilson registered England’s first point, three under par and six up after nine holes soon became a 7&6 win for the English player.
In the top game Ireland’s Robin Dawson produced four birdies in five holes on the back nine to claw back a two hole deficit with four holes left to play. A birdie on sixteen turned the game back in favour of Mitch Waite and he clinched the win with a three on the last.
Mark Power and Tom Sloman exchanged a barrage of birdies on the back nine in the match of the afternoon with Power eventually prevailing on the 18th to win Ireland’s first point from the singles.
As the middle games started to complete, England’s Tom Plumb recorded a solid 3&2 win over James Sugrue. David Hague looking to win his 6th point of the championship had to battle hard in his match against Ireland’s Caolan Rafferty but, with three birdies on the back nine, he eventually prevailed by 2&1 to secure his 100% record and another point for England, extending their lead to 6.5 – 3.5. Joe Long was six under par in beating Robbie Cannon 3&2 to take England to the verge of victory.
A 3&2 win for Peter O’Keefe against Nick Poppleton kept Irish hopes alive but not for long as David Langley claimed a 2up victory over Ireland’s Alex Gleeson so taking England over the line.
In the remaining two matches Ireland’s Tiarnon McLarnon beat Ben Jones 3&2 to maintain his perfect record for the championship; six out of six. Ronan Mullarney produced three birdies in the last five holes to overturn a three hole deficit and take his match 1up but from an Irish perspective it was in vain as England won the Match 8.5-6.5 and with it the 2018 Home Internationals.
Congratulations to Team England winners of the 2018 Home Internationals.