England had to pull out all the stops before they were crowned Boys Home Internationals champions for the third time in four years on a dramatic final day at Western Gailes Golf Club in Ayrshire.
After winning their opening two matches against Scotland and Wales, Derek Hughes’ side needed a result against defending champions Ireland, who like Scotland, still had an outside chance of winning if results had gone their way.
In the end, England turned things around in the final singles session to defeat Ireland by 8-7 to complete a set of three wins for the week.
To compound matters for Roy Archibald’s Ireland side, the narrow defeat meant they finished third in the table after Scotland’s 9-6 win against Wales moved them into second with two wins.
At one stage eight of the singles matches were in Ireland’s favour, which would have been enough to turn around the 3-2 deficit from the morning foursomes, but would also have been good enough to retain the title based on the highest number of individual points won. However, that scenario never materialised as England rallied and when Harry Hall won the last two holes to win by one hole against Cathal Butler, the match was secured.
“That was very, very tough, I don’t want to have any more days like that on a golf course,” said a relieved Hughes afterwards. “Fair play to Ireland, they came out with a new team this week and put in a great effort. I am proud of the way my lads battled, especially when it didn’t look good for a time, but the likes of Harry coming down the last and winning was crucial.”
As leaderboards changed all afternoon, Bradley Moore’s 4 and 3 win over Peter Kerr in the middle order ended Scotland’s chances as England secured more points than Scott Knowles’ side had accumulated. Moments later Jonathan Thomson came through a tight encounter to deny 15-year-old Owen Crooks 2 and 1 and that was the all-important point, which meant England had won the title.
“I much prefer to win the matches. If we manage that then the overall result looks after itself and thankfully that’s what happened today,” added Hughes.
Ireland can take a lot of positives from the week and look ahead as eight of the 11 players who competed at Western Gailes will be available for selection again next year when the under-18 team event moves to Conwy Golf Club in Wales.
“That was a very close run thing and a great performance by the boys,” said Archibald. “To take on England in the manner we did and narrowly lose 8-7, with a number of matches going to the final green, was a fantastic team effort.
“I can’t praise the boys highly enough. The experience this young side have gained will be invaluable. It was close, the match came down to the last match on the last green, you can’t ask for any more than that. Of course they will be disappointed for a while but we’ll pick them up and get them going again.”
For Scotland there was a bright note when debutant Adam Fisher ended a great week as the only player to win all six matches.“I played solid throughout. On a tough links course like this, the secret is to make pars with the occasional birdie,” said the Newmachar golfer.
Scotland captain Knowles accepted there was too much to do but praised his team nonetheless. “We were disappointed to have lost to England on the first day but I’m happy with the way we rallied to beat Ireland and Wales. The end result was out of our control today and fair play to England,” said Knowles.
The Wales captain Chris King was pleased that so many of his new caps had performed well.“Overall we’re disappointed because we felt we came here with a strong side,” said King.
“Thomas Froom, who has just turned 15, was fantastic again to close out his match against Stuart Easton (2 and 1). And Gaelen Trew was new to the team and he too got four points after his 4 and 3 win over George Burns in the bottom match.
“The new caps were buzzing and they can’t wait to come back and have a go at this again,” added King, who has five players available for Conwy next year.
For the full results visit: Championships.Randa.org.
The 2015 Boys Home Internationals will be played at Conwy Golf Club in Wales from 4-6 August.
Photo courtesy of The R&A.