It was a great day for Fintona Golf Club on Friday at Shandon Park Golf Club when our Challenge Cup team, ably captained by Anna McNelis, won the 2021 AIG Women’s Challenge Cup by beating a strong Gort team. The ladies played three consecutive matches at the venue beating Sutton on Wednesday, Grange on Thursday and Gort on Friday. Prior to that they had played and beaten Masserene, Ballymena, Balmoral and Newtownstewart to win the Ulster North region. It was a fantastic achievement when you think that the clubs they played against would have had a much greater pool of players to choose from. Anna had total faith in her team and they fought hard to win their three games in Shandon.

It was a nail-biting affair in the final on Friday and went down to the wire. They were only out a short time when play was suspended due to heavy rain. When play resumed they plodded on and everything was in the balance.

However, as time went on news filtered through that we had won two and lost one, with the other two very tight. The front match turned out to be the decider.

It was level after 18 holes but an excellent approach shot from Catriona Donnelly on the 19th hole proved the difference, winning on the first extra hole.

“I was told coming up the 18th about how the matches were going. When I knew it was riding on our match, the nerves kicked in”, Donnelly said after the win.

“When I came down the 19th, and played my third really well, I knew I had a chance to win. It’s a great feeling.

“We’re a small club. There is a wonderful team spirit among the women in the club, but realistically we only have 40 to 50 who play on a weekly basis, and even less who could play at a match level. I was honoured to be asked to play in the team.

“It’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve met, and played against some magnificent women along the way. Shandon Park was a great course to play on.”

Great scenes of jubilation followed for a while and then the official presentation took place with each player getting a gold medal and a very excited Anna lifting the trophy.

Anna made a good speech in which she expressed her gratitude to her team, to her subs, to drivers who took the team to Belfast, and supporters who travelled up to lend their support.

On return to Fintona at 8.30pm the clubhouse was suitably decked out and a rousing reception greeted the All Ireland champions.