John Armstrong was the hero as Greenisland Golf Club defeated Westport to claim the AIG All-Ireland Junior Cup title for the first time in their history on Thursday (September 17).
Greenisland won 3-2 at Carton House, but the final went right to wire with Armstrong winning ‘one up’ with a decisive putt on the 18th.
Earlier in the day Greenisland’s Andrew Ervine defeated Tony Bree 4 and 3, but Jamie Campbell lost 2 and 1. There was also defeat for David Winning who went down 3 and 2 to Sam Gillivan.
However, Michael Hayes was in fantastic form, easing past Fergus Rothwell 5 and 4 before Armstrong edged the Greenisland men to victory on the last.
“It was a bit of a shock because I hadn’t really played any matches for Greenisland in years,” Armstrong told the Times. “I only played two games in the Junior Cup. Jamie Dwyer went back to university at St Andrews and the format of the competition says you must nominate six players. There was one spot left and because we had nobody to pick from, the best we could do was to ask a 60-year-old!
Asked what the pressure was like as he faced holing the winning putt, Armstrong replied: “To be quite honest, I wouldn’t like to be facing that situation too many times. I had pushed my second shot into the bunker but my opponent was in three-putt country and I thought if he makes a four we’ll maybe tie. But I played a reasonable bunker shot and then he putted down to eight feet from the hole. I was over-eager with my first putt and pushed it a good four feet up. I was left with a downhill putt and the greens were like lightning. I just tried to hold the putter in my hand as relaxed as I could and there was a slight break from right to left and when it rolled into the hole it was a great relief.”
Armstrong said the role of team captain Johnny Greer was integral to Greenisland’s success. “For someone so young, he’s just 21, to guide the team to the Junior Cup title is remarkable. He and the rest of the team are fantastic young men and are a credit to the club.”
He added: “The reception when we got back to the club was fantastic. A number of the members were there to have a wee sup of champagne. It’s really surreal. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”