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Fintona Ladies claim an historic first Ulster title

Ulster champions…….Fintona Ladies

A LADIES team from Fintona Golf Club has broken an unwanted 113 year record by winning an Ulster title.
 
Bernie McCillen’s Challenge Cup side defeated their Royal Belfast counterparts 3-2 at Bangor Golf Club on Sunday, September 3 to seal a first provincial title for the Ecclesville club.
 
The competition for golfers with handicaps between 28 and 36 saw the Fintona ladies up against 65 other clubs and on their way to the decider they ousted Holywood, Masserene, Banbridge and Knock, each over two legs to set up a semi-final with Belvoir Park at Warrenpoint.
 
The last four meeting proved to be a nail-biter, with three matches reaching a 19th hole and two players – Montague and Donnelly- having to return to Warrenpoint to complete their matches after fading light stopped play at the first time of asking.
 
That victory proved the Fintona team’s mettle and it set up the daunting task of tackling Royal Belfast in what turned out to be a thrilling final on the north Down coast.
 
The match was evenly poised at 2-2 after wins for Pat Quinn, 6/5 over Gillian Murray, and Angela Montague on the 19th hole against Anne McCandless, while Franchea Donnelly and Philomena McNabb suffered defeat to Barbara Neeson and Hilary Ellis respectively.
 
Those results meant that the Ulster final would be decided by the one remaining match on the course, which involved Fintona’s Kate Donnelly and Belfast’s Carol Murphy in what proved to be a tense finale to a high quality decider.
 
Donnelly and Murphy were deadlocked after 18 holes, meaning extra holes were required. 
 
The 19th was halved, taking the match onto the 20th where Donnelly displayed nerves of steel to sink the winning putt to seal a first Ulster title for the Fintona ladies and the club after more than a century of waiting.
 
“Hopefully this is only the beginning of many future successes. Success breeds success!,” said team captain, McCillen after the momentous title win.
 
“This victory is a huge accolade for a small rural club and it has definitely raised the profile by putting Fintona Golf Club well and truly on the map.  Hopefully it will encourage new members now that we are a club to be reckoned with.
 
“Instrumental to this win has been the commitment and dedication of players, caddies and supporters,” she concluded.
 
The Fintona ladies now progress to an all-Ireland semi-final against Connaught champions, Mount Bellew at Malone Golf Club, on Friday, September 29.

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