PORTSALON’S junior golfers put on a show on Saturday evening to defeat a strong Dunfanaghy team on the Old Tom Morris Links at Rosapenna to become Donegal Youth Matchplay champions for 2021.
After a fantastic summer, the Portsalon boys rounded it off in style, sealing their success with a hard-fought and high-class win over Dunfanaghy, with Portsalon taking two of the three fourball matches to win 2-1.
Portsalon’s opening partnership of Cian Page and Oisin Friel had the unenviable challenge of facing Irish international Darcy Hogg in their match and it was Dunfanaghy that proved strongest in that game, winning 4&3 under the guidance of their star performer.
Not to be outdone, Portsalon duo Christian Harris and Michael Campbell levelled matters with a 2&1 win in match two in what was a game of scintillating quality.
Campbell birdied four of the opening eight holes to put his team four up and, with help from his partner Harris, they were five up and in total control early in the back nine.
Matchplay golf can turn around without much in the way of error and so it proved, as the Dunfanaghy team rose to the challenge with back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes and an eagle on the par-five 16th to leave matters delicately poised.
Pars on the penultimate hole proved enough for Christian and Michael to get the half required and close out the match, levelling the score with one game remaining on the course behind.
Match three proved to be quite the rollercoaster for Liam Donlon and Ultan Blaney, a slow beginning seeing them fall four down thru four holes.
Blaney’s brave par on the 5th hole started the fightback and the momentum was truly with them by the time Donlon birdied the eighth hole to wipe out the early deficit.
They were able to push on, winning three on the spin after the turn to be three up thru the 12th hole.
Once more, the Dunfanaghy side rallied, with a birdie on the 16th bringing the deficit down to the minimum once more.
The teams exchanged pars on the 17th hole, leaving Portsalon 1up on the 18th tee and Blaney provided the par required to secure a quite magnificent win for his team in the overall match.
Portsalon Team: Cian Page, Oisin Friel, Michael Campbell, Christian Harris, Liam Donlon, Ultan Blaney; First Reserve: Ciaran McCormick.