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McKibbin is unable to prevent Irish defeat to Scots

Tom McKibbin
Tom McKibbin

By Paul Kelly

An opening-round Home Internationals defeat to Scotland wasn't the start Ireland dreamed of yesterday at Lahinch GC.

Ireland tied the morning foursomes but struggled after lunch, eventually losing 8.5 to 6.5. In contrast, champions England got off to a great start and hammered Wales 12-3.

Ulster's teenage star Tom McKibbin (Holywood GC) was partnered with Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint GC) in the morning foursomes and managed a half against Lewis Irvine and Stewart Easton.

The 16-year-old, making his debut at senior level, then faced Matt Clark in the singles and lost out by two holes.

"He's a rising superstar of Irish golf. More importantly, he's a very nice young man. I enjoyed it. He's been beaten by an old, fat man effectively but that's part of the game. He's a super talent," said Clark, who is captaining the Scottish side.

"I'm 37. I'm only giving up 21 years to Tom. He strikes the ball like a seasoned campaigner. I don't think his game is necessarily suited to links golf. He hits it very high, creates a lot of spin which, when you get a blowy, Irish Lahinch day, is not ideal.

"To beat Ireland in Ireland is a rarity. I was at Portrush in 2015 when we got a heavy beating.

"Understandably, Ireland have a strong team, they're a strong unit. They work well as a team. It's something I'm trying to instil in my players."

Ireland face England today with McKibbin and Campbell out again as the anchor pair in the foursomes against Bailey Gill and Joshua McMahon.

Another of the Irish debutants, Matthew McClean (Malone GC), managed a half in his singles match against Eric McIntosh. The 26-year-old has been drafted into the foursomes this morning alongside Robert Brazill.

"I enjoyed it. I felt we could have done better. I played very well. I felt good over pretty much every shot," said McClean.

"It was good golf. He (McIntosh) just didn't do anything wrong at all. I made three birdies on the way in to get the half."

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