Lurgan Golf Club’s Men’s Junior Cup team embark on the final leg of a journey towards All Ireland glory next week.
It all started back in May with the regional qualifying, now they have reached the All-Ireland finals at Carton House on September 14 and 15.
Lurgan have a rich history in winning Ulster titles in both the men’s & ladies’ teams, with the latter providing All-Ireland glory in recent years.
To date the club is still missing a men’s All-Ireland title and that much sought-after green pennant. That could change next week with Conall Coleman’s Junior Cup team, who have made an All-Ireland title the goal from the outset.
Jim McKee has provided some tremendous results this year under immense pressure, with a dramatic comeback in the first round of matchplay in early June proving to be the spark that united this team.
It set a tone and standard that all have retained in each match along the way to winning an Ulster title. Jim is no stranger to success, winning the Carlingford Cup with Lurgan only last year and boasts an excellent matchplay record on the run to the All-Ireland Finals.
Keith Percy is an ex-Irish League footballer who has played for a number of clubs, most notably Glenavon.
His competitive instinct and experience under pressure have shone through on a number of occasions, most notably in the Ulster semi-final. He fought back from a losing position to winning the match on the first sudden death playoff hole and send Lurgan into a second successive Ulster final. And in the decider he showed his competitive qualities to win on the final hole.
Gareth Hanna is one team member who will be no stranger to this stage, having been part of the last Junior Cup team to reach the All-Ireland finals back in 2011.
That year, Lurgan lost in that final however Gareth finished the year unbeaten in all matches, which in itself is a fantastic achievement.
Losing in the 2011 All-Ireland final will only prove as motivation to a player who has showed passion and experience countless times this year. That will no doubt be key if Lurgan are to succeed next week.
James Horan is one of the most decorated members of this team if not the club in winning Ulster titles at underage level in the Fred Daly, at Senior Cup level in 2010 and now the Junior Cup.
The only thing missing from his CV is an All-Ireland title, which he shall have an opportunity to add this year. James holed the winning putt in the Ulster Final for Lurgan on the second playoff hole, showing his wealth of experience and most importantly nerve to spark mass celebrations.
Andrew Cummins has simply played the best golf of his life this year. He is unbeaten in all matches in the Junior Cup and has played steller golf over the season, leading the Golfer of the Year standings within the club.
He too was a member of the Junior Cup team that reached the All-Ireland finals back in 2011 and sadly due to injury last year missed out on playing in the Ulster Final. This year he has had no such concerns and has proved a class above all his opponents to date. Now h has the opportunity to prove himself on the All-Ireland stage.
Peter Kennedy is one of two underage members in the team who has had a tremendous season.
Peter started the season off eight and is now playing off four. He represented the Junior Cup team at the qualifying stage to great effect, helping Lurgan reach the first round of matchplay. He has also been part of a successful Fred Daly team this year at underage level.
Ronan McCrory is the other underage player who has again had a fantastic season.
He currently stands second on the Player of the Year standings and after starting the year with a handicap of nine, has now reached 3.8.
Ronan played in both the winning Ulster quarter-final and semi-final Junior Cup teams this year and also plays in Fred Daly.
Hopefully himself and Peter can claim a Fred Daly Plate Ulster title.
Team Captain Conall Coleman was also a member of the team that reached the All-Ireland finals in 2011.
He led the Junior Cup team to the Ulster Final last year and returned to win the title this season. His goal has always been to win an All-Ireland title for Lurgan GC.
Conall would like to thank the Club Captain Martin McCooe, Teams Convenor Ian Cousins and Peter & Lynne Hanna in the Professional Shop for all their support.
He would also like to thank the supporters who have travelled to all the matches to date. That has doubt helped the team get over the line in a number of tense matches along the road.