England’s winning run in the U16 boys’ international series was brought to an end by Ireland in a high-quality match on the Isle of Man.
England won all three matches last year and had beaten Wales and Scotland this season, but the Irish edged past them by a point, winning 8.5-7.5 at scenic Castletown Golf Links.
The visitors showed their strength in the singles, coming back from a two-point deficit after the opening sessions, when England had won the foursomes 3-1 and halved the fourballs 2-2.
Michael Gilbert, a member of England’s winning team at the boys’ Home Internationals, led the way in the singles and withstood the pressure to take his point on the final green.
Immediately behind him, English U14 champion Conor Gough and Ireland’s Mark Power were playing superb golf, eventually halving their game having both played round in six-under par. And, at the bottom of the order, James Cooper also won for England, defeating his opponent 4/3.
But in the five games in between the Irish took charge and, when Callum Macfie’s 18th hole birdie putt slid past, the victory was theirs.
Gough was top scorer for England with an unbeaten performance of 2.5pts from three games.
Steve Burnett, the England Golf Men’s Performance Manager, said: “This was a very high-quality match and there was some excellent golf from both teams. Congratulations to Ireland and we look forward to next year’s re-match.
“Castletown was a fabulous venue for the match and we were all made so welcome.”
The course is surrounded on three sides by the Irish Sea and this was the first international to be played on the Isle of Man for many years. During the two-day match the club offered free coaching to island youngsters aged between eight and 16.
The England team was: Barclay Brown (Hallamshire, Yorkshire), James Cooper (Cumberwell Park, Wiltshire), Charlie Daughtrey (Rotherham, Yorkshire), Michael Gilbert (Chelmsford, Essex), Conor Gough (Stoke Park, BB&O), Hugo Kedzlie (Spalding, Lincolnshire), Callum Macfie (Lindrick, Yorkshire) and Tom Stagg (Salisbury & South Wilts, Wiltshire)