Conway Cup Captain Tony “Friar Tuck” Fee and his “band of merry men” have achieved what no other team has done in the short history of Clogher Valley Golf Club by reaching their first ever final. Punching well above his weight, Captain Fee inspired his team last Sunday to go to Baronscourt and produce an enormous giant-killing upset to take the spoils in a tense 2nd leg finale resulting in a 17-15 victory for the men from “the Valley”!!
Confident they could make history, Clogher Valley entered the 2nd leg in Baronscourt with a slender 11-5 lead. In the 1st fourball out, “King Kevin” and Stephen McClelland marauded their way to victory, by winning the 1st nine, losing the 2nd nine and winning their match overall to win 3-1, leaving the overall score 14-5 in Clogher Valley’s favour. The pairings of A. Little & J. Davis and J. Moore & John “Tiger” Burrell suffered heavy defeats in their respective matches, and in so doing lost all 8 points available to leave the overall team score tied at 14 points each with the 3rd pairing of Paul Colgan & Mervyn Spratt still on the course.
Colgan and Spratt won the front nine by two holes to edge the Valley men in front 15-14, knowing there were still 3 points to play for. Newtownstewart fought back to lead the back nine by two holes, levelling their match on the 15th hole. They then won the 16th with par to go 3 up in the back nine and 1 up in their match with only two holes to play! At this stage Newtownstewart (last years beaten finalists) were odds-on favourites to progress but the men from the Valley are made of sterner stuff and Spratt held his nerve on the tricky par 4 17th with a great chip and 4ft putt to win the hole with par … game on again!!!
Two great approach shots saw both Newtownstewart players sitting in the middle of the par 4 18th green in two, with both having birdie putts and seemingly certain pars. Spratt was unfortunate to go out of bounds and out of the hole and Valleys hopes hung by a thread when Colgan pitched short of the green in two. Colgans 3rd shot fell 12ft short of the pin and the viewing gallery waited with bated breath to see the outcome. Both Newtown players missed their first putts and were no more than 4ft from the hole. Colgan had to hole his tricky 12ft putt and hope both his opponents missed theirs. “Robin Hood” COLGAN, under the utmost pressure “arrowed” his ball into the back of the cup for par to a rapturous “Ryder Cup-like” cheers from all players and supporters watching. As the noise quietened for the Newtown players to putt out, mistakenly and unbelievably both Newtown players must have thought that was the end of the match and lifted their markers off the green, shook hands and walked into the clubhouse and in so doing, farcically gave the hole and match to Colgan and Spratt to secure another two points putting Clogher Valley into the final 17-15.
We now await the holders Strabane in the final to be played over two legs by end of August. History has already been made, and maybe, just maybe, it will be “One small step for Tony Fee and one giant leap for Clogher Valley Golf Club!!”