Holywood has even more reason to celebrate success
You know who is not the only Holywood golfer now riding a magic carousel. Forty years after their one and only victory in the Belfast Telegraph foursomes, young Rory's club were celebrating again last night as winners of this Club Orange classic.
The new champions hung by their thumbs for a spell, but finished brilliantly to beat Whitehead in a sun-kissed Malone final.
Whitehead had earlier been given a walk-over against Greenisland, who missed their early-morning tee-off time and were disqualified.
It was by an exciting 2 and 1 margin that Michael Gillen and Belfast jeweller, Stephen Doherty, got the measure of Marshall Boyd and partner, Charlie Magill. All square after six, Holywood seemed to have taken a firm grip on the match when they waltzed into a swift four-hole lead. Never count your chickens before they're hatched, however.
There was still bounce in Whitehead's step, and with a tidy run of one-under-fours for five holes along the home stretch, they were right back in the fight.
Holywood had three-putted the eleventh; found sand on 12; were gifted a half at the 13th when Whitehead missed from four feet; then snatched another valuable half by chipping in from off the green at fourteen.
Magill's iron shot to the short 15th had birdie written over it before both pairs three-putted the drive-and-wedge 16th, a costly slip that still left Holywood one up when the match could easily have been all square.
Onward then drama-lovers as Doherty leapt out of the starting-gate for the last time.
Stephen's cut-down, hammer-drill swing may not be a copy of McIlroy's, but it suits him and usually pays dividends. Like when he split the fairway here with his longest, and best, drive of the day at hole 17.
"I really nailed that one," grinned Doherty, " And so did Michael with his approach. They were both winning shots."
Sentiments shared by Holywood's club captain, Brian Campbell, for whom a hard-fought and historic victory (2 and 1) brought great joy.
Gillen and Doherty both played in Holywood's all-Ireland silver medal-winning Bruen Shield side of 2001, and naturally hope to be defending the Telegraph trophy at home next season. They might just at that.
Belvoir Park lost to Holywood in yesterday's semi-finals, but beat Greenisland 3 and 2 in a third-place play-off.