Ireland fight back to win Ladies’ Home Internationals; Girls’ side a brilliant second

SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  The Ireland Ladies team, winners of The Ladies' Home Internationals pose with the Hugh Kelly Cup during The Ladies' and Girls' Home Internationals at Little Aston Golf Club on August 11, 2017 in Sutton Coldfield, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 11:  The Ireland Ladies team, winners of The Ladies’ Home Internationals pose with the Hugh Kelly Cup during The Ladies’ and Girls’ Home Internationals at Little Aston Golf Club on August 11, 2017 in Sutton Coldfield, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Ireland were crowned Ladies’ Home Internationals champions as the Girls’ team finished second to England at Little Aston. 

The England ladies’ team looked set to claim the title for the sixth time in seven years after sharing the morning foursomes and then taking an early lead in the singles.

But that Clodagh Hopkins’ side mounted a late comeback which resulted in them claiming a narrow 5-4 victory over the hosts.

Lianna Bailey beat Paula Grant 4&2 in the first singles on the course but the turnaround got underway when teenager Annabel Wilson came back from five down at the turn to beat Sophie Lamb by two holes.

Chloe Ryan (3&1) and Julie McCarthy (5&4) then got the better of India Clyburn and Gemma Clews before Mairead Martin came up the last and halved with Olivia Winning.

Rochelle Morris did earn one final point for the English when she beat Curtis Cup colleague Maria Dunne by one hole in the last singles but by that time the outcome had been settled.   

Ladies Home Internationals scores

“This is just amazing. I can’t believe it has happened,” said Irish team captain Hopkins. “The English are a very strong team but I had an inkling we could get something out of the match.

“The girls have played so well and been so positive all week that I knew they had a chance. Every time we went out we did just enough and that’s exactly what we did today.

“Golf in Ireland is looking good. Last year the girls did it. They put it up to us and we have responded. I think we’ll all have a big celebration tonight.”

England Ladies’ captain Elaine Ratcliffe paid tribute to Ireland’s tenacity.

“The Irish played some great golf on that back nine,” she said. “It was still close after nine. We were up in two games but the others were really close.

“You’ve got to hand it to the Irish. I think some of our girls tired after a busy few weeks but it would be wrong to make excuses because the Irish played some really good golf and deserved to win.

“My girls are all a bit emotional at the moment. Golf can be a bit cruel and it certainly was for them this afternoon. We’ll just have to re-group and get over it. Ireland did what they needed to do and congratulations to them.”

SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: The England Girls team, winners of the Girls' Home Internationals pose with the Stoyan Cup during The Ladies' and Girls' Home Internationals at Little Aston Golf Club on August 11, 2017 in Sutton Coldfield, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 11: The England Girls team, winners of the Girls’ Home Internationals pose with the Stoyan Cup during The Ladies’ and Girls’ Home Internationals at Little Aston Golf Club on August 11, 2017 in Sutton Coldfield, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

In the girls’ event, a strong English team were in dominant form throughout the match in spite of losing Amelia Williamson to gastroenteritis on the eve of the championship.

Despite being down to six players for the three-day tournament, England defeated Wales 8-1 and Scotland 7-2 before battling hard to defeat a tough young Irish squad by 6 ½ – 2 ½ on the last afternoon.

Girls’ Home Internationals scores

The English claimed the morning foursomes 2 ½ – ½ and then went further ahead when in the singles Hollie Muse and Samantha Fuller both won their sixth matches out of six by recording 6&5 victories over Lauren Walsh and Sara Byrne.

However, Ireland never stopped fighting and got the result they deserved when Emma Forbes beat Hannah Screen 2&1.

Rachel Thompson and 13-year-old Beth Coulter earned halves against Lily May Humphreys and Emily Price. The other English winner was Martha Lewis who beat Valerie Clancy by 5&4.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Gemma Butler, the Ireland Girls’ captain. “They are a very new, young team. We have four new Home Internationals players, three new caps, so to run the English so close is very encouraging.

“We knew we were up against it. We recognised that but after a shaky, nervous start we gave it a real go. I couldn’t be more proud, particularly at the end when one of our new caps won on the 17th and we managed to steal two halves on the 18th.

“Annabel Wilson, aged 16, and Mairead Martin, aged 17, stepped up to the ladies’ team this year. We generously let the ladies have them.

“We’re building a new young team. We’ve got great hopes. We’re building it very well and we’ve got a few girls champing at the bit. Irish girls’ golf is in a good place right now.”

The matches to decide third and fourth places in both the ladies’ and girls’ events were fought out between Scotland and Wales with the Scots coming out on top by a 6 ½ – 2 ½ margin.

In the ladies’ match Scotland made their intentions clear when they romped into a 2 ½ – ½ lead in the morning foursomes and notched up wins in the afternoon from Hannah McCook, Eilidh Briggs and Gemma Batty. Connie Jaffrey and Shannon McWilliam earned halves over Kath O’Connor and Megan Lockett. Georgia Lewis registered the sole win for the Welsh when she beat Chloe Goadby 2&1.

The Scotland girls team again claimed third place by defeating Wales by the same scoreline. They were also 2 ½ – ½ up after the morning foursomes and sealed victory with singles wins from Hazel MacGarvie, Jasmine McIntosh, Hannah Darling and Louise Duncan. Caitlin Evans-Brand and Carys Worby were the Welsh winners as Scotland took the singles 4-2.

The 2018 Ladies’ and Girls’ Home Internationals will be played at Ballybunion from 8-10 August.

from News – Irish Golf Desk http://ift.tt/2vrQA7f

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