Northumberland came within a single shot of winning the Men’s County Finals for the first time in more than 50 years at Huddersfield Golf Club.
The seven man team, who came through heavy downpours and a revised two day format for the event, were pipped by Kent on the final green of the third and final match of the event.
Northumberland finished in second place overall, one point behind Kent, who won their head-to-head match 4-3.
Northumberland county captain David Gilroy said: “The way things ended, being that close to the trophy we’ve been working towards for two years, was absolutely gutting for all of us. Each of the lads played exceptionally well and were a credit to the county.”
Playing against Kent, Somerset and Nottinghamshire in a revised format – which saw the three foursomes and six singles format for each head-to-head match replaced with seven singles matches – Northumberland beat Somerset 4-3 on day one as Mark Wharton, Sean Heads, Alex Dixon and Gary Donnison won their matches.
They went on to earn a 5-2 win over Nottinghamshire on the morning of day two as Mark, Alex, Gary, Matty Lamb and Andrew Minnikin won their singles matches.
With Kent drawing against Somerset in the second round of matches, Northumberland knew at least a draw would give them a first title since 1965. For Kent, only a win would give them the title.
Saturday afternoon’s match looked to be going Kent’s way early with the first three matches going their way – Tom Sherreard beating Andrew 5&4, Liam Burns beating Phil Ridden 3&2 and Joshua Bristow beating Mark 3&1. However, Northumberland’s Alex, Matty and Gary turned the tables with wins over Jacob Kelso (3&2), Jensen Hull (2&1) and Mason Essam (2&1).
That meant the result lay in the hands of Hexham-based Sean, who was one down with two to play before his opponent, Ben Quinney, three putted the 17th hole of the match to see the pair head down the final hole of the event all square. At their final hole, Sean’s birdie putt from 25ft slipped past the hole before Ben holed a nerve-wracking 10-footer to seal the win and Kent’s second County Finals title.
David added: “The team has been a great credit to our county and we couldn’t be more proud of each of the players. We’re proud to be putting Northumberland back on the national stage and there’s a lot to look forward to for the county.”