Golf

Gribben gears up for Barton title

Ryan Gribben, then with Warrenpoint, holes the winning putt on the 20th green in the semi-final of the 2014 AIG Barton Shield at Carton House

This time last year Ryan Gribben was gearing up for an All-Ireland semi-final with Warrenpoint.

Although All-Ireland success eluded the storied Co. Down club last year, Gribben will have another shot at a Barton Shield title with North West at this year’s AIG Insurance Cups and Shields Finals.

Gribben joined the Buncrana club at the start of this season, helping them to a first Ulster title in nine years. Senior Cup champions in 2005, North West are no strangers to success.

And while the club are on the hunt of a first ever Barton Shield crown, the club’s latest protégé Kyle McCarron is on the quest of an All-Ireland double at this year’s Cups and Shields Finals.

McCarron completed his first year at Maynooth University last May, where he is a member of the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship programme. Win or lose with his club in the Barton Shield, he will be facing into a Senior Cup semi-final with Maynooth.

“It would be nice to go all the way in both,” says the 19-year-old. “I’ve probably played some of my best golf this year in the Barton Shield with the club.”

McCarron was paired with Gareth Mallon for the Ulster final victory against Warrenpoint although it was Gribben who led the way against his former club.

Playing with Kealan Quigg in the top match, Gribben put North West in the driving seat with a three-hole win. Now living in Derry, Gribben was clearly pumped for the battle against the ‘Point.

“You could tell he was up for it, you could tell he meant business going out,” said McCarron, who could be facing one of his college team-mates in the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway, which is the first match of the Cups and Shields week on Wednesday September 16.

Ronan Mullarney is also chasing a Barton Shield-Senior Cup double and is already one up on McCarron with a first round win against the Donegal man at the North of Ireland Championship in July.

McCarron will be keen for revenge this time around.

Whoever comes through that final-four encounter will face a daunting task in the final. Reigning champions Muskerry play inter-club specialists The Royal Dublin in the second semi-final at Carton House.

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