Ireland is on course to win the R&A Men’s Home Internationals for the first time since 2017. All the 11 men from the Emerald Isle have to do is defeat home favourites England at Hankley Common to take home the Raymond Trophy.
Ireland moved to the top of the table with two points from two matches after defeating Wales 11–4. Scotland’s 10-5 victory over England means an Irish victory over the home side delivers a 19th triumph in the round robin tournament since its inauguration in 1932.
Scotland and England sit second and third on the points table with one point each, with Scotland having a better matches won differential. Both teams can move level with Ireland on two points with victories on the final day.
If England defeat Ireland and Scotland beat Wales, matches won and lost will determine which of England, Ireland and Scotland is crowned champion.
Ireland dominates singles
John Carroll’s Irish team had to rely on superior singles strength to overcome the Welsh team on day two. A narrow 3-2 victory in the morning foursomes suggested a nervous afternoon session. However, Ireland won the singles 8-2 to stand on the verge of being hailed the best amateur men’s golf team in Great Britain and Ireland.
“We just have to beat England to win the Home Internationals,” said Carroll, who is captaining the Irish team for the third and last time in the Men’s Home Internationals. “If you have told me that at the start of the week I’d have taken it.
“We know it’s going to be difficult. It’ll be a tough match because England will come out fighting after losing to Scotland. The Irish never lie down so the boys will be up for it.
“The message to the boys tonight is simple: every player has to go out and focus on winning his match because every match counts. We’ve got momentum and we’ll try to use that against England to get off to a fast start.”
Scotland still in the hunt
Scotland is looking to win the Home Internationals for the first time since 2012 at Glasgow Gailes.
A 3-2 morning foursomes loss to England meant Matt Clark’s side needed to prevail in straight head to head play. Clark got his wish when the first four Scots on the singles draw sheet reeled off victories. James Wilson defeated Walker Cup player Jack Dyer 3&2. Rory Franssen bettered Brabazon Trophy champion Sam Bairstow 3&1. Connor Wilson had a similar result over Haider Hussain, and Lewis Irvine won by two holes over Olly Huggins.
English Amateur champion John Gough and Boys Championship winner Jack Bigham were the only two English winners as Scotland took the singles session 8-2 to leave Clark dreaming of lifting the trophy.
Big effort leads to reward
“It’s an almost unbelievable result, but not surprising, “ Clark said. “The 11 guys who are here are here for a reason. They deserve to be here. I have every trust in them. They fought hard yesterday and they fought hard today.
“I told them last night, this is all about beating England on their home soil. I asked my guys for a big effort. We needed the front end to go out and pick up the baton and they did that in spades.”
Clark has done a good job inspiring his side. Playing in his ninth straight Men’s Home Internationals two weeks shy of turning 40, the career amateur has won each of his four matches and is now looking for an early birthday present.
“This is my cup final every year. I was fortunate to play on the winning side in 2012 at Glasgow Gailes, so I’m incredibly proud to wear the captain’s armband. I’m incredibly proud of the boys.
“We’ve got to ask England for a favour against Ireland. We need England to win and us to get a big result against Wales so it comes down to goal difference. We won it nine years ago doing exactly that, so hopefully we can do it again.”
England remains resilient
England captain Gareth Jenkins is skippering the strongest side on paper among the four nations. He knows his players have the talent to defeat a good Irish side despite a lopsided loss to the Scots.
“It’s disappointing,” Jenkins admitted. “We just didn’t get going and it seemed quite flat. Scotland played incredibly well – every time I watched Scotland they played a great shot or holed a putt.
“It’s not over by any stretch of the imagination.
“We’re disappointed, but they are a good bunch and they will come out fighting again tomorrow. If we can come up with a good win against Ireland, fingers crossed, it will be enough on the points difference.
“Not once have I questioned anyone’s effort all week. It wasn’t for the lack of trying that we lost today. I know these players and they can come back from this.”Day two results here.