The inaugural Ulster Schools’ Scratch Championship was won with a comfortable 8 stroke margin by St Killian’s College, Garron Tower at Royal Portrush Valley Links.
The four player team, returned their 3 best cards in the stroke play competition for a total of 213 on the par 70 course beating their nearest rivals, St Patrick’s Grammar, Downpatrick on 221 with 3rd place going to Belfast High needing a further stroke on 222.
Representing the Garron Tower side were Cairndhu GC brothers Neil andMarc McKinstry both playing off handicaps of 2 along with Cushendall GC members Fergus McCambridge (5), and Alastair McQuillan also playing off 5.
The new championship enjoyed brilliant autumn sunshine throughout the day with the wind staying calm making low scoring a possibility. At one stage the famous links looked vulnerable with Royal Portrush member Peter Kerr representing RBAI turning into the back 9 at 5 under. The gross prize was, however, won by St Killian’s lead player, Neil McKinstry with 67 and Kerr finishing on 68. Also on 68 was Reece Black (5), Ballyclare High School, who finished with the nett prize for his round.
It was a most satisfying day’s work for Neil McKinstry just returning from injury and missing most of the season. However, attention to his short game during this time reaped reward as he sprinkled his card with 6 birdies over the round. Special mention too to Alastair McQuillan drafted late into the team and stepping up to the mark with a fine 72. The third St Killian’s card belonged to Marc McKinstry with a battling 74.
Next up for the boys are the finals of the Ulster Schools’ Senior Matchplay Championship. Having qualified top at Royal Belfast GC on 19 September, St Killian’s College now face holders Regent House in the semi finals of the matchplay competition next April at a venue to be arranged. The other semi-final sees RBAI take on Banbridge High with the winning school representing Ulster in the National finals later in April.