CARRICKVALE came out on top in a classic game of two halves to return to winning ways in the Dispatch Trophy, a one-hole triumph over Silverknowes landing them the gold medals for a fourth time in seven years at the Braids.
In an extraordinary denouement to the event’s 114th staging, Carrickvale’s top couple of Allyn Dick and Craig Deerness recovered from being two down after four to finish eight up on Tam Caldwell and Keith Reilly.
Yet that just got them over the finishing line as the back pairing of Craig Elliot and Thomas Beattie finished seven down against a rock-solid Paul Heggie and Graeme Robertson.
“It’s fantastic to get our hands back on this trophy and we’re delighted for (Carrickvale stalwart) George Alexander and everyone connected with the club,” said former Lothians champion Dick.
Carrickvale’s fourth success in the event has seen them close the gap on Silverknowes to just one and, referring to that, Dick added: “We’re definitely chasing their stars!”
Honest as ever, Reilly admitted: “Tam and I have certainly had better days and, towards the end, it was mistake after mistake.”
Carrickvale’s front couple had finished 3-3-3 in their match in the morning semi-final to help secure a 4 and 3 triumph over a plucky Edinburgh Thistle.
Silverknowes won by the same margin to end Caermount’s brave defence of the trophy before making the first thrust in the final.
Caldwell and Reilly started 4-2-3-3 to stand two up before a missed putt from Reilly at the fifth was the start of the tide turning.
It was back to all square as Dick and Deerness produced a nice up and down at the next and they got their noses in front after Reilly’s drive found gorse at the eighth.
For him, though, the big turning point in that match came at the short ninth. “That was a big hole as Craig pushed his tee shot but it bounced at right angles back towards the green,” said the Lothians captain.
Behind, Heggie and Robertson won the second with a par then birdied the next following an exquisite pitch from Robertson to also go two up early on.
When Heggie then played a lovely chip into the fourth, they looked like winning another hole only for Elliot to do likewise and, in one of those classic match-play moments, Carrickale won that with a birdie.
It was back to two again when Beattie’s drive at the eighth was perilously close to the gorse and Heggie played a great second for Silverknowes as that was eventually conceded.
That meant it was all square overall at the turn, with Carrickvale two up at the front but two down at the back, and from then on both those margins steadily increased.
Normally so consistent, Caldwell and Reilly were bereft of confidence by the finish, an untidy 5 from up on top of the plateau at the last just about summing up their performance.
In contrast, Heggie and Robertson hardly put a foot wrong at the back, the duo being an estimated five-under for the round.
But they’d been left with too big a task by their team-mates and a solid par-4 for a half at the last was good enough to clinch victory for Carrickvale.
“For myself and Craig to win ten out of 14 holes against a quality pairing like Tam and Keith was very satisfying indeed,” admitted 34-year-old Dick.
“Our course management hadn’t been good at all earlier in the week but it was fantastic when it mattered most and that’s what made the difference.”
Elliot, another member of Carrickvale’s hat-trick winning team from 2007-09, celebrated this triumph by cradling his seven-month old son Ben for photographs with the famous old trophy.
“There’s no way I’d have envisaged us winning it like that but fair play to Paul and Graeme as their short games were great out there,” said the 41-year-old. “It’s great to be winners up here again and I’m delighted that Craig and Thomas are experiencing that feeling at the first attempt.”
Beattie, a 29-year-old, then admitted he’d caught the “Dispatch Trophy bug” and he is relishing playing his golf back in the Lothians again after a spell in Stirlingshire.
“I’ve really enjoyed this week and I’ve got a wee buzz back again,” he said. “Now I just need to see if I can take my game up another gear or two as I feel that is possible.”
The victory completed a notable double for Deerness as he was also in the Harburn side that won the Lothians Team Tournament last season.
“I’ve really loved every minute of my first Dispatch Trophy,” declared the 31-year-old, who also lost in the final of the Lothians Championship to Pumpherston’s Paul Drake last year.
“I felt so comfortable out there and having Allyn as partner was massive as he knows exactly where you have to place shots up here.”
It’s a defeat that would have been mulled over and over down at Silverknowes on Saturday night but they’re are already looking forward to the ‘Battle of the Braids’ resuming again in 12 months’ time.
“It’s about gaining momentum up here and, unfortunately for us, Carrickvale got that going in the top game and left us chasing the match,” admitted Robertson.
“But we can’t wait for next year – this is the best week on the calendar!”
Edinburgh Thistle: (S Sumner and D Anderson 0; I Cropley and B Anderson 0); Carrickvale (C Deerness and A Dick 2; C Elliot and T Beattie 2).
Carrickvale won 4 and 3
Silverknowes: (T Caldwell and K Reilly 0; P Heggie and G Robertson 4); Caermount (L Fisher and I Dickson 0; G Henshaw and M Hopley 0).
Silverknowes won 4 and 3
Carrickvale: (C Deerness and A Dick 8; C Elliot and T Beattie 0); Silverknowes (T Caldwell and K Reilly 0; P Heggie and G Robertson 7).
Carrickvale won by one hole