Ireland and Scotland enjoy victories on day two of the Boys Home Internationals

Ireland put a dent in England’s aspirations of defending their Boys Home Internationals title with a hard fought 8-7 win on the second day of the round robin series at Forest Pines where Scotland ran out comfortable victors over Wales.

The day’s results throw open the contest with England, Ireland and Scotland all still in with a chance of lifting the R&A trophy. England are bidding for three in a row, Ireland are hoping to repeat their success of 2010, while Scotland last triumphed at Moray in 2006.  

Ireland won the morning foursomes to take a slender 3-2 lead into the afternoon singles. Throughout the afternoon the momentum swung back and forth before Sean Flanagan kept his composure to defeat Harry Ellis 3&1 in the all-important anchor match.

“I’m delighted to have won. I was three up through 13 and thought I was cruising then Harry birdied 14 and 15. But I got up and down for a win on 16 and closed it out at the 17th,” said a delighted Flanagan, who was just as keen to go and celebrate the memorable win with his teammates.

A crucial element to Ireland’s success was winning the top three matches. The top two matches both went to the 18th before Robin Dawson and James Sugrue (Pictured) recorded one-hole wins over their respective opponents, Adam Chapman and Marco Penge.

The Island’s Paul McBride had a point to prove after being on the receiving end of a foursomes masterclass in the morning against his singles opponent Ashton Turner. McBride was quick to get into his stride and denied the local favourite 5&4.

Although Ireland gained momentum, the middle order of Derek Hughes’ side remained resolute to win the next four matches to level the scores at 6-6. England briefly edged ahead with Bobby Keeble’s 3&2 win over Alec Myles to set up the dramatic finish.

The youthful looking Ronan Mullarney had been four up against Bradley Moore before the English player responded with wins at 15 and 16. However, Mullarney closed out a 3&1 win at the 17th to leave the final act to Flanagan.

“That was a very nervy afternoon,” said a relieved Roy Archibald, the Ireland team captain. “It was always going to be tight, it always is against England. Winning match one and two on the 18th green was a big turning point. The 18th has been very kind to us this week so long may it continue.”

“There were two excellent performances by Mullarney and Flanagan at the end of the field to bring the match in. It gives us a chance tomorrow but the tournament is still wide open,” added Archibald.

Like his Irish counterpart, Hughes identified the top matches as their undoing. “For our top three not to get anything disappoints me a lot. I think that’s primarily why we didn’t win the match,” said the England captain.

“It was a disappointing day but credit to Ireland, they came out, they took us on and they beat us.”

Later in the day Barrie Douglas’ side eased to a 12.5-2.5 victory against a relatively inexperienced Wales team. The extent of the winning margin could still be a factor depending how results unfold on the final day.

On paper the outcome appeared straightforward, Scotland took a 4-1 lead from the foursomes and closed out the contest by winning the first four singles matches.

Scotland’s Connor Syme defeated Tim Harry 5&4 in the top match and Callum Hill quickly followed with his 4&2 win against Kyle Harman. Benjamin Kinsley won 3&2 against Joshua Davies before Ewen Ferguson’s narrow two-hole win over Charlie Spencer-White sealed the outcome.

Thomas Williams put a Welsh point on the board with his 4&3 win over Cameron Kirkwood, while Jack Davidson and Alan Waugh played out a halved match as the sun began to set over the Lincolnshire venue.

Elsewhere Stuart Easton denied Otto Mand (4&3), Niall McMullen defeated Thomas Davies (3&2) and Euan Walker beat Alex Matthews (2&1). The winning margin was confirmed when Robert MacIntyre maintained his unbeaten run with a 2&1 victory against Ryhs Jones in the bottom match.

“A tough afternoon,” was the succinct response from Wales captain, Leighton Smith. “We have a couple of new kids - seven rookies - and they probably found it hard going today. We’ve got to use the experience and see what tomorrow brings. I dare say we’re in for another tough day against Ireland as they are flying at the moment.”

Douglas was delighted with his team’s performance. “It’s a terrific result. We figured Ireland might beat England so we knew we had to try and get as many points on the board as we could. I’ve been involved for seven or eight years now and we’ve never won by anything like that (margin) before.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge, it’s always good to play England.”

The final series of matches will see Ireland play Wales and Scotland take on England.

Full match details can be found at championships.randa.org.