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Meet Robert Moran: Ireland's talisman at the Home Internationals

by Ronan MacNamara

Robert Moran has enjoyed a stellar season, that has been bookended by wins at the Ulster Strokeplay last October and a win at the R&A Men’s Home Internationals last week.

In between that the 22-year-old has top-10s at the Amateur Championship, the English Men’s Open Amateur Strokeplay and a runner-up finish at the Irish Amateur Close Championship in Tullamore last month.

The Moran family are sport mad and golf fanatics so the transition into getting into golf was a seamless one for the Dubliner, who is studying business in the National College of Ireland.

Moran played rugby up until his mid-teens but now puts all his energy into golf and it’s a decision he is relieved to have made given the brutal physicality of modern rugby.

“Both my parents are good golfers,” said Moran. “My Dad is off four and my mother was off eight at one stage so I joined Castle Golf Club when I was ten and spent my summers there playing with friends and family, so it was handy that way.

“I’m in National College of Ireland with two years left of a business course so hopefully get rid of the books after that.

“Played a good bit of rugby until I was maybe fifteen or sixteen, but I would watch any sport on TV but obviously don’t play any of them because golf takes up so much time and I don’t want to get absolutely butchered playing rugby!”

The Castle player was part of the Ireland team that won the Home Internationals for the first time since 2017 at Hankley Common Golf Club last weekend. A quite inexperienced team on paper came through a thrilling finale where the permutations were shifting throughout the last round of matches against England.

Ireland managed to salvage a winning half point against their neighbours, but the contest went down to the final putt.

“I think everyone was just buzzing and delighted to win because golf is such an individual sport and to come together as a team it doesn’t happen too often so there was just a great buzz from everyone.

“Only three lads had played Homes before so a lot of new people had a new experience which made it even better and the fact it was so close made it special.

“In Liam Nolan’s match one of the English boys had a putt from fifteen feet and if he held it we would have lost to England and Scotland would have won on a countback so it was pretty intense, it’s a lot worse watching it than playing it.”

Moran played a starring role alongside debutant Alex Maguire where they went unbeaten in three matches as the leading pair, winning two and halving one, including an emphatic 8&6 win over Angus Carrick and Connor Wilson of Scotland on day one.

It was a fantastic partnership and Moran put it down to the similarities in their golf game which allowed them to gel so well.

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Robert Moran and Alex Maguire by Golffile

“We both play pretty similar, we both hit driver everywhere, I’d say driving would be the strengths of our games so it worked out pretty well, we both drove it well and putted solid.

“He’s very enjoyable to play with I thought I hit it far then I played with him so it was enjoyable to be hitting it from some of the positions that he hits it.

“We have very similar games, we get along well so it worked out that way, he has had a great year and was full of confidence.”

Moran also went unbeaten in all three of his singles matches which meant he went the entire week without losing, he set the tone as the leading man on all three days.

“It’s always nice to go unbeaten, especially to be out first and lead the lads, it’s always nice to get points early even a couple of draws every point or half point means a lot.”

Playing three days of 36-hole match-play can be a draining experience both mentally and physically where it becomes survival of the fittest.

Moran believes the Irish players’ experience playing Interpros earlier this month helped them keep a little extra gas in the tank as they were used to the energy sapping format a little bit more than their opponents.

“One of the advantages we have is that our Interpros is the exact same with three days of 36 holes and foursomes in the morning and obviously that didn’t go to plan with Leinster this year but it definitely helped us out because we would be slightly more used to it than other countries.

“The last day you normally would be tired but with the adrenaline going through everyone you don’t really get it, it’s only five minutes after my match finished that I felt absolutely shot, then when you start watching the other matches the juices start flowing and the energy comes back.”

The season is not over for Moran who will look to finish in style with a win at the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at the European Club next month. He feels the win at the Ulster Strokeplay last October has given him the belief to make huge strides this season.

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Robert Moran by Golffile

“It was my second or third tournament of the season, it was a nice boost to win, I would trust my golf but it’s so hard to get over the line and finish tournaments so to win in a playoff as well gives you that bit more belief and it set me up for the rest of the year.

“It’s always nice to start off the year that way.”

Usually when amateurs make the step up to the professional ranks to rub shoulders with their idols it’s an amazing experience regardless of the performance, it was the polar opposite for Moran who was extremely disappointed with his performance at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle in August.

An attitude to be admired as the youngster wasn’t there to make up the numbers at the tri-sanctioned event.

Moran put his poor performance down to fatigue and acknowledged that he would have played poorly no matter what tournament it was after a gruelling schedule finally caught up with him.

“It was pretty terrible to be honest.

“I think it was the tenth tournament I played in eleven weeks and I was tired, my golf wasn’t there so I didn’t enjoy the experience at all.

“It’s the worst golf I played in years, it would be nice to say it was cool but I really didn’t enjoy it at all because my golf was horrific. I wish I could have performed better and I probably would have enjoyed it more, but yeah it is a cool experience but whatever that week was from the practice, everything I was just all over the shop.

“It was a kick up the backside, I took a break after it and reviewed it and went on.

“The one thing I learned is that those weeks are a bit longer than the usual tournament, with just the build up and stuff like that, so I need to prioritise rest and try not be tired going to it. It’s impressive how the pros do play five, six, seven weeks in a row.

“It was impressive to see those guys play but it’s not my fondest experience,” he added.

Having joined Castle Golf Club in Dublin at the tender age of ten, Moran has been taken aback with how supportive the club and its members have been towards him and the other star names to come out of the golf club down the years.

Moran also paid tribute to the competitive nature within the club having grown up playing matches against some of the older elite players in the club which has improved his golf.

“I can’t really thank the place enough, the members are always so supportive no matter what it is and we have so many good players that have come through here, a few lads have played for Ireland, won Interprovincial caps, won tournaments and stuff like that.

“That’s one of the biggest things to thank is all those boys that would have been older and better than me and helped me, just playing with them and learning from them.

“There’s big competition up here which I find great. If you want to play a nine or thirteen hole match, it’s brilliant to be able to get out with them.

“There’s a lot of members who you would see everywhere at every Senior Cup match who would be interested in how I’m getting on and slagging me if they bogeys on my card or congratulating me on the good stuff.

“I think it’s one of the best supported clubs to be in and especially when you come back after winning all the members have kind words for you,” he added.

With the Castleknock Scratch Cup this weekend and the Flogas Irish Amateur Open next month, Moran will be looking for even more success to top off a brilliant season.

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