Nenagh Golf Club - AIG Men’s Pierce Purcell Shield winners 2021. Back row: David Hickey, Bernard Hackett, David McGrath, Brendan McKenna (AIG, sponsor), Bernard Delahunty (Team Captain), Kay O’Loughlin (President-Elect, Golf Ireland), Eamon O’Brien, Padraig Hackett, Tom Slattery. Seated: Pat J Hogan, Paul Moloney, Brendan O’Donoghue, Matthew O’Gara junior. PHOTO: Golffile/Thos Caffrey

Nenagh Golf Club win Pierce Purcell Shield

By Shane Brophy

Nenagh Golf Club won the prestigious Pierce Purcell Shield for a sixth time at the AIG Cups and Shields finals held at County Limerick Golf Club last weekend.

The success continues a rich record in the competition which is a foursomes contest for pairings of 12 handicappers and up with a minimum combined handicap of 27, as all six titles have been won since 1998.

Team Captain Bernard Delahunty described the win as “great for the club”, as they defeated Elm Park on the final on Saturday with long time servants Bernard Hackett and Pat J Hogan sinking the winning putt, with the duo going unbeaten throughout the eight-match campaign.

“I can’t really put into words now to be honest,” Hackett said afterwards.

“It’s been a hard slog the last couple of days. Every match was tight so it’s just great to get it over the line. It’s mentally draining.”

“From the word go we knew it was going to be nip and tuck, nobody was getting anything simple. If you made mistakes you were going to be punished so we tried to limit our mistakes and it just worked out for us in the end.”

Patsy Hogan has been a long-standing member of the Nenagh Pierce Purcell team and vows to retire on a high now following the successful.

“It’s been a pleasure to play with this man,” continued Hackett.

“For the last ten years we’ve played together on-and-off and we’ve never been beaten. A man of 75 years of age, to still be going, it says a lot about his character.”

Nenagh progressed to the All-Ireland series after coming through a West Munster campaign seeing off Rathbane, Ballykisteen, Charleville, Killarney, and Spanish Point Golf Clubs. In the quarter finals, they defeated Royal Curragh to set up a semi-final against local rivals Thurles Golf Club last Friday, who were red hot favourites. However, team captain Bernard Delahunty threw a spanner in their plans by shaking up his line-up and it worked a treat as they won 4-1 with Padraig Hackett & David McGrath, Padraig Moloney & David Hickey, and Matthew O’Gara and Brendan O’Donoghue all winning, meaning the final two matches were called in.

After opting not to take part in Wednesday practice last week before the event as many of the Nenagh players were familiar with County Limerick Golf Club, Nenagh were fresh and experienced for the final against Elm Park Golf Club.

In the first match, Padraig Hackett & David McGrath set the ball rolling with a 4&3 win. Matthew O’Gara junior & Brendan O’Donoghue recorded a 3&2 win to claim their second point, however Elm Park responded in match three as Paul Moloney & David Hickey fell to a 3&2 defeat.

However, Nenagh didn’t have to wait long to claim the third point to secure the title and it was fitting that their most experienced pairing in Bernard Hackett and Pat J Hogan did the business with a comfortable 4&3 win, meaning the final match involving Tom Slattery & Eamon O’Brien was called in and halved.

Winning the competition for a sixth time puts Nenagh Golf Club among the elite in the country with team captain Bernard Delahunty claiming there is nothing special about how they go about things.

“It is down to hard work, good pairings, team spirit, and camaraderie,” he said, complimenting his assistant captain PJ Shanahan in his help for putting the pairings together.

“We put up a sheet in the clubhouse earlier in the year and 22 players put their names forward and we had four trials to whittle the team down to fourteen, with Mel Gleeson, Pakie Ryan, Richard Moloney, George Hayes all playing their part through the course of the campaign.

“Some pairings just work naturally,” added Delahunty.

“Brendan O’Donoghue & Matthew O’Gara just gelled perfectly while Bernard Hackett and Patsy Hogan are historically strong.

Nenagh Golf Club will be aiming for more team success when their Fred Perry team takes part in the All-Ireland semi-finals in Strandhill Golf Club, Co. Sligo on the weekend after next.