A sublime nett 64 earned Brian Cleland victory in last month’s Irwins Quality Aggregates competition at County Armagh Golf Club.

Brian laboured somewhat in the early exchanges on 8 September, carding double bogeys at both the 1st and 2nd. However, with the shackles now relinquished, he proceeded to negotiate the remainder of the front nine in level par.

A treble bogey at the 10th then represented another scorecard snag, but once again Cleland bounced back in exemplary fashion. An unperturbed closing sequence of five pars and three bogeys enabled Brian to eventually sign for a terrific gross 80, which handed him a new handicap of 15 as well as the Irwins title.

Just one stroke back in the Sunday standings was Paul Hughes, who sealed the overall runner-up prize through a marvellous nett 65 return. In a round characterised by its consistency and avoidance of any significant peril, Hughes was particularly impressive during a run of three pars in four holes from the 12th to 15th and a pressure-mocking 5, 5 finish.

In category 1, Paul McCurry and Kieran Donnelly both posted classy nett 66s and were sorted into first and second positions respectively on a break of tie. A sluggish opening pushed McCurry to five over par after as many holes, but he was only one further shot over par thereafter. Paul’s recovery to that gross 76 was boosted by back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th and the sort of 4, 4, 4 climax that could lead to a badly bitten hand.

Meanwhile, Donnelly’s wonderful five-over-par outing featured birdies at the 6th and 9th and a fairly emphatic response to his shambolic six at the 11th: seven consecutive pars on a jaunty journey back to the clubhouse.

Daryl Lawson emerged as top man in category 2 on account of a magnificent nett 65 that was at its best amid a level-par outward nine containing birdies at the 3rd, 6th and 8th. Lawson, whose latest excellent display means he’s now playing off 13, was challenged most seriously in the second tier by second-placed Paul Kelly, whose nett 67 included a highly productive haul of seven pars.

Sean Bailie registered the same fine score as Kelly and, as a consequence, took care of business in category 3. Bailie’s happy hat-trick of pars allowed him to edge narrowly ahead of runner-up Turlough Brady, who secured yet another category accolade of 2019 by virtue of a typically solid nett 68.

Brian Cleland, winner of County Armagh Golf Club’s stroke event on 8 September, is pictured alongside Club Captain, Kenny Edgar; Alastair Harrison from sponsors Irwins Quality Aggregates Ltd; and other prizewinners (L-R) Turlough Brady, Kieran Donnelly, Paul Kelly and Paul McCurry.

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