12 May 2024

~4 minutes read

McClean lands first Irish crown in County Sligo

Share story:
McClean lands first Irish crown in County Sligo

By Daragh Small

Malone golfer Matt McClean battled back from four shots down to claim his first Irish title with the Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship on a thrilling final day.

The 30-year-old shot a brilliant 69 to push ahead of Walker Cup teammate Liam Nolan (Galway) down the home stretch at County Sligo Golf Club.

McClean’s steady round included just one bogey on ten and with three birdies, with two on the difficult back nine, it ensured he finished on -11 two shots clear of Nolan.

For the former US Mid-Amateur champion, who had his father Noel and girlfriend Kate there for support, this is another huge boost to his season on the back of an historic European Nations victory alongside his Irish teammates in Sotogrande recently.

“It feels great. I’ve tried for many years to get an Irish Championship, there’s multiple times where I’ve not been on the winning end,” said McClean.

“So it’s nice to hold on there. That’s obviously what most players are judged by. Whatever you do, how many seconds and thirds at the end of the day, it’s the win.”

The World Amateur Golf Ranking No 80, will now turn his attentions to another tilt at the Brabazon Trophy in Hollinwell, an event which Nolan won last year.

And for much of this week it looked like the Galway man would pick up another major title after rounds of 66, 68 and 66 gave him a -13 total after moving day.

But that lead was whittled down in the front nine with Nolan dropping three shots in his first three holes while McClean birdied the third.

Just like his inspired fightback from a double-bogey in Round 3, Nolan showed resolve and had two subsequent birdies before a bogey on nine.

It was all pars from there on in until 17 where Nolan bogeyed and following birdies on 12 and 15 McClean was in position to seal the win with a par on 18.

Further back, it was hometown golfer TJ Ford who mounted the most meaningful challenge but even a scintillating 65 was only enough to help him into third place on -6. Tom Matthews (Oswestry) and Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin) completed the top five.

But for McClean this is an important personal victory and career milestone with more big targets on the horizon.

“I was a bit behind going in today, it somewhat worked in my favour, just in terms of I could have a go at it out there and feel free to have a go at a few putts,” said McClean.

“I played nicely and Liam got off to a bad start but fought back really well. Other than the last couple holes there, he just got a bit unlucky with a couple of fliers.

“The front nine was playing a bit harder with the wind direction today. A hot start, even a couple under through nine was a very good nine.

“I just had to try my best and shoot as low a round as I can, and thankfully hung in there at the end and hit a couple of nice shots down the stretch.

“The back nine there this afternoon will probably be the biggest benefit. I’ve been playing well since I got back from a bit of a time off in golf over the winter, I’ve been swinging it quite nicely.

“Down the stretch under pressure, it’s obviously more difficult. So it’ll be something that I can take forward into the rest of the year and hopefully try to win again.

“But I’ll enjoy this one and enjoy tonight.”

View the final scoring here

Share story:

Galway Athletics Report

Sean Doggett selected for Europeans Athletics Ireland has announced a strong team for next month’s European Athletics Championships, which will be held ...

St. Patrick's Athletic vs Galway United (Premier Division Preview with John Caulfield)

Galway United will go 10 games unbeaten in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division this Friday (31st May 2024) if they avoid defeat to Stephen Kenny...

Galway GAA Fixtures

Under 13 Division 1 Fri, 31 May, Venue: Caherlistrane, (Round 6), Caherlistrane V Annaghdown 19:00, Fri, 31 May, Venue: Mountbellew, (Round 6), Mountbelle...

Croker Calling for Leading Contenders as 2024 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championships are Launched

STARS from the competing counties gathered at Croke Park today (Tuesday May 28) to officially launch the 2024 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championsh...