St Killian’s Garron Tower this week at Rockmount GC won the Ulster Schools’ Senior Matchplay championship for the second time in three years.
They defeated Regent House three-and-a-half to one-and-a-half in the semi-finals in the morning and then overcame Banbridge Academy by the same margin in the final later in the day.
Captain Neil McKinstry, had been in outstanding form in the qualification rounds last term, but the Cairndhu clubman recently sustained a back injury and was unable to participate this week.
In his place, younger brother and two-handicapper Marc stepped up to the plate, winning both his games, while Neil’s replacement, Galgorm’s Daniel Reilly, was also a double-winner on his senior team debut.
Marc McKinstry was first out against Regent House’s Mark Rea and he came home a three and two winner. Andrew Clegg levelled the tie with a two up win over Cushendall’s David Burns.
Cushendall clubmate Fergus McCambridge scored a three and two win over Ryan Corey and with Ali McQuillan and Johnny Linter halving, it all came down to the final match. Rookie Daniel Reilly was taken to the final hole by Josh Holliday, but he holed in par to win by two.
Banbridge Academy defeated RBAI in the other semi-final on a score of three to two to face St Killian’s in the afternoon’s final.
Marc McKinstry had a great battle with Stefan Greenberry in the opening match, Marc taking the 17th to level the match and then sinking a birdie on 18 to win.
The rest of the team seemed inspired by this result and David Burns salvaged a half with Peter Cummings on the final green.
With the fifth pairing finishing early and Daniel Reilly securing a five and four victory against Josh Corey, St Killian’s only needed a half from the remaining two games to get their hands on the silverware.
Ali McQuillan settled the issue with a four and two win over Tandragee’s Jack Roe, leaving Fergus McCambridge’s game with Josh Lochkart redundant. Josh eventually won on the last hole.
St Killian’s now go through to play in the All-Ireland series over Easter Monday and Tuesday in Nenagh GC in Tipperary.
Before that, Marc McKinstry will spend time with the Irish under-16 team in Holland, while McCambridge will captain his school hurling side in the Foresters’ Cup final against St Patrick’s Maghera.