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Mehaffey's Irish champion bid falls at the final hurdle

There was disappointment for Royal County Down's Olivia Mehaffey yesterday after birthday girl Sarah Helly recorded a shock 6&5 win in the Irish Women's Amateur Close Championship final over the Old Tom Morris Links at stunning Rosapenna.

Mehaffey saw off Howth's Laura Doherty 2&1 in her semi-final while Enniscrone's Helly beat Mary Doyle of the Heath by the same score.

It should have been a classic final but 17-year-old Mehaffey hit the wall after a massive run of recent events and Helly proved to be a killer around the greens as she denied the World No 59 her fourth win of the season.

Three up after nine, she drained a 30-footer to go four up at the 10th and was conceded the 12th after Mehaffey carved into deep rough.

She then closed out the match, holing a three-footer for birdie at the 13th for an emotional 6&5 triumph.

With her parents John and Bernie missing the decider due to medical appointments, she said: "They would have given anything to be here.

"I am still in shock and can't get over the fact that I am Irish champion. I have always wanted an Irish Close but I didn't think I would ever do it. I couldn't have dreamed of a better 23rd birthday present to be honest."

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