Gerry Blevins’ Team Four put in a superb final round display to seal the Banbridge GC Winter League title.
They had been just half a point ahead going into the last round and did enough to finish top of the league table TOMMY FEE did a good job of foreseeing.
The three teams that I predicted would occupy the top three positions in the Winter League did just that.
Gerry Blevins won with Team Four (I predicted second), Dougie Stevenson was second with Team Seven (I predicted first) and Philip Strong was third with Team Three, as I predicted.
I don’t deserve to be called a “scud” or a “Jonah” any more.
It was an exciting finish despite the atrocious conditions. Gerry Blevins seems to have the magical touch when it comes to the Winter League and he won again.
Here is how the final round unfolded:
Captained by Gerry Blevins, their 10 best cards totalled 237 points and that was the best team score of the round. Their overall team score was 33 points.
Peter Hillen was top scorer with 28 points. Then came Colin McDonald 27, Gerry Blevins 26, Malcolm Russell 25, Norman Doak 24, Merton McDowell 24, Eamon Galloway 23, Ashton Clydesdale 23, Alan McGowan 20 and Cathal McNiff 17.
Gerry must be one of the greatest Winter League players of all time. He has been on the winning team four times in the last five years.
But Gerry knows it is a team game and he had a very enthusiastic side this time out. No less than eight of his team played in every round. No other team came close to that.
Gerry led by example and Malcolm Russell, Peter Hillen, Colin McDonald, Norman Doak, Eamon Galloway, Merton McDowell and Ashton Clydesdale joined him.
Captained by Dougie Stevenson, the second place side produced a rather disappointing final round.
Three of their top players were not able to play and several key men did not play to their true potential.
Aidy McEvoy was the top performer with an excellent 27 points. Verdun Bond 25 and Darren Barker 25 also did very well. Then came BJ McAnarney 23, Joe Whiteside 22, Bobby Geddis 22, Philip Mallon 21, John Hanna 19, Dougie Stevenson 19 and Mel Hamill 19. Their team total was 222. That earned them five points and their final score was 30.5.
A telling stat was that the champions, outscored Dougie’s team in each of the last three rounds.
Under the stewardship of by Philip Strong, they finished third place after a big performance in he final round did not materialise.
Kenny Arlow 27, Michael Robinson 26 and Philip Strong 25 got the team off to the perfect start.
Graham Shannon 24, Bill McCandless 24, Neville Kerr 23 and John Convery 22 were there or thereabouts.
But they had to count Sam Wilkinson 19, Robert Haire 17 and Dermot Dawson 16.
That all added up to 204 and they gained only four team points. Their final team score was 29.5. It was a bit of a heart-breaker for Philip and his team.
Captained by Johnny McKinstry, Team One simply threw in the towel in the sixth and final round.
They had only five cards returned. They needed ten.
So it’s well done to Brian Knox 28, Joe Glass 27, John Redpath 24, Felix Duffy 20 and Johnny McKinstry 14. They battled to the finish.
They finished with 22 team points and that was still good enough for fourth.
Kieran McGreevey’s side posted a brilliant score in the final round, despite being out of contention. They deserve great credit for that.
Tony Lunney and Gordon Enderson were top scorers with 25 points each. Tony was the find of the tournament. He played in every round; his best score was 31 points and his card counted every time.
Paul McCullough and Sean McGreevey both had 24 points.
Kerry McCluskey, Ronnie Collins and Kieran McGrevey each had 23 points.
Add Patrick McAleenan 21, John G Lennon 19 and Roland Harwood 17 and you get a total of 224 points. That was the second best total of round six.
Sean Quinn’s team underachieved in this year’s Winter League. They had a talented squad but suffered big time from too many no-returns.
In the final three rounds they failed to return the required 10 cards. That was a fatal error.
Cathal O’Neill had a brilliant 28 points in round six. Then came Alan McVey 25, Peter Cruikshanks 25, Sean Quinn 25, Cameron Morton 24, Philip McCourt 19, John Poots 18, Seamus McGrath 18 and Brian Parkes 13.
Their team total of 199 was only good enough for three points. They finished sixth with a total score of 18 points.
Captained by Alan Close, unfortunately picked up the wooden spoon.
They never really gave themselves a chance because they couldn’t manage to get the requisite 10 returns in the final three rounds.
Nobody can blame Colin McKinney, Gary McCormick, Albert Morrison or Vaughan Lamont. They defied the wind and the rain to play in every round.
Colin McKinney was top scorer in round six with 28 points.
Gary McCormick had 26 and then came Joe Thompson 22, Alan Close 22, Albert Morrison 21, Vaughan Lamont 18, Colin Smylie 17 and Mark McCullough 13.
It’s a winter league that most of the teamwill want to forget. The exceptions are Vaughan Lamont, Gary McCormick, Albert Morrison and Colin McKinney who all won individual prizes. Fair play to them.