Buckinghamshire end on a high to deny champions a five-star finish

Champions Gloucestershire got their hands on the silverware – but only after Buckinghamshire ended their chances of a clean sweep at the Women’s County Finals.

Gloucestershire ensured they would retain their title with a 5 ½ – 3 ½ triumph over Yorkshire on Thursday  – their fourth straight win of the week.

However, on another glorious day at Delamere Forest in Cheshire,  they were not able to make it five out of five after narrowly losing out to a determined Buckinghamshire team by a slender 5-4 margin.

Buckinghamshire began the morning by taking a 2-1 lead after the foursomes. Olivia Lee and Rosie Bee Kim were the first pair to put a point on the board for Buckinghamshire when they beat Grace Connelly and Claudia Ovens 5 & 3. They doubled their advantage when Georgina Bowers and Daisy Kennedy secured a one-hole victory over Jess Brown and Sam Round before Gloucestershire got themselves back into it when Megan Bartlett and Alex Saunders defeated Susanna Mitterer and Ella Betteriss 3 & 2.

Buckinghamshire started the singles with two further victories by Alice Kozlowski and Amelia Curtis over Bartlett and Issy Hopkins but Hannah Cash, Jessica Pilgrim and Grace Rigby-Walden lost against Jess Brown, Connelly and Ffion Tynan before Thalia Kirby secured an emotional win for her team with a 2 & I victory over Alex Saunders.

“It’s a fantastic result,” said Buckinghamshire captain, Gail Sharp. “We were hopeful we might do something today, but we decided we’d play all 12 of our players, so I think it was just a case of waiting to see what the results might bring.

“It proved to be a good decision because one or two of the girls brought in wins we weren’t necessarily expecting.

“It’s been a great week,” she added. “We beat Lincolnshire 7-2 in the first match and had some really good matches yesterday in our draw with Surrey but it’s just nice to finish the week with a win against the champions. That makes it all a bit more special.”

Gloucestershire had won all four of their matches on their way to clinching their third title in four years but they came up just short against Buckinghamshire after also electing to bring in some of their less experienced players.

“Today we were able to play all of our team which was just lovely,” said Gloucestershire captain, Su Mallon. “In fact, they (the less used players) won and the ones we’d worn out earlier in the week didn’t. So, yes, it was a brilliant day, actually. They played to really enjoy it, which was good.

“We’re still up there, we’re high and enjoying it all. They (the team) just keep giving. They’re such a nice group of people. I’ve just loved being their captain.”

The final day of this year’s championship was all about the battle to finish second behind Gloucestershire and in the end it was Lincolnshire who were to claim that spot after a 5 ½ – 3 ½ victory over Yorkshire. Lincolnshire went into lunch 2-1 up in the foursomes and wins from India Clyburn, Ellise Rymer and Tilly Garfoot plus a half point from Sophie Beardsall was enough to see them over the line.

Surrey moved up to third with a 5 ½ – 3 ½ win over Norfolk while Buckinghamshire’s last day heroics saw them climb to fourth ahead of Yorkshire and Norfolk.

Photograph credit: Leaderboard