Jimmy Bruen Final: Malone set for titanic battle
Both Cushendall and Tandragee are attempting to become Ulster Jimmy Bruen Shield champions for the first time when they meet in the final at Malone today.
It would be quite a feather in the cap of either team — and a great double for the Co Armagh club, whose young guns have just won the Ulster Fred Daly Trophy for the first time.
But it would be a mistake to dismiss the chances of Cushendall today just because it is a nine-hole course with no par fives.
The River Dall, which runs through the heart of it, is their secret weapon.
“It's actually out of bounds and not just a hazard,” explains non-playing Jimmy Bruen team captain and club president Colm Thompson.
“We've had the GUI out to inspect and make sure it is acceptable and it fairly makes sure our players are accurate with their play. I don't know much about Cushendall, except that if they are in the final, they must be doing something right,” said Tandragee team captain Jeff Ford.
“The club had a bit of a shake-up in terms of team captains at the start of the year and that seems to have played dividends with a few new faces coming in.
“Everyone has practice at Malone and given the conditions we've had it's playing long and it's going to be tricky.”
Both teams have come through a series of tough matches to reach today's decider.
Cushendall, after qualifying third at Ballymena. won all four subsequent matches 3-2, beating Ballymena, Malone, Banbridge and Co Cavan.
Tandragee, after topping qualification at their home course, defeated Dungannon, Knock, Lisburn and Portstewart on their way to today’s final.
Non-playing team captain Clark McAllister says the Fred Daly — for players under 19 — is an important one for any club to win.
“It augers well for the future to have a team of young players coming through together like this one,” he said.
“Jamie Stroand Adam Brown have worked really hard and have both got their handicaps down to two, while James has also done a lot of hard work this year and is now playing off three.”
Tandragree (probable pairings): Philip Dennison & Stefan Greenburg, Gordon Haire & Jonny Quinn, Warren Jardine & Mark Bannerman, Ross Dutton & Stefan McNeil, Jeff Ford & Willie Brady.
Cushendall: Nigel McAuley & Paddy O'Hara, Joe O'Neill & Ali McCambridge, Connor McCambridge & Henry McAlister, Cormac McCambridge & Leonard McKeegan, Paul Delargey & Tony Hoey.