LEEDS captain Nigel McKee saw his side suffer their first Yorkshire Inter District Union League defeat of the season, but the way they battled against champions Sheffield in a 21-15 loss has increased his belief that the future is bright.
When leading player Andy Wiltshire (Pontefract) had to pull out on the eve of the match at Abbeydale with a crick in his neck, McKee drafted in a 14-year-old, James Trant, of Cookridge Hall.
And although Trant was beaten twice, he showed enough ability to warrant immediate promotion into Leeds’ junior ranks as well as earmarking himself as a future senior regular.
“He had shot 77 in the Leeds stroke play the week before and he came recommended,” said McKee. “He really, really did well. I was absolutely proud of him, he conducted himself so well. He didn’t win, but he turned up for the team and we’re going to have him straight in the juniors.
“I put in James, 14, and Nathan (Ali, also Cookridge Hall) 15, and I’m glad I did as it bodes well for the future. They’ve both get incredible potential.”
McKee was also delighted with debutant Sam Morrison (Wike Ridge) who was only denied a singles win over Yorkshire county regular Jamie Harrison (Rotherham) when he lost the last hole having led for most of the match.
Next up for Leeds are York at Woolley Park where a win would take McKee’s men above the 2014 champions.
“Hopefully we can get a win against York and take it forward from there,” said McKee.
“It’s still not over this year; I still think Sheffield could get beat at some point, may even get beat a couple of times.
“If we beat York in the next game, we go above them. It’s still in the melting pot.”
In the foursomes, Leeds’ top pairing of Adam Frontal and Dean Wright trounced Matt Evans and Luke Palmowski and then Rob Wardle and Neil Clark won to leave McKee thinking a morning half might be possible.
“I thought, ‘just one more foursomes’. I would have dreamed about being level with them after the morning with the team I’d got out,” said McKee.
“It didn’t progress, but then in the afternoon it got to a stage where I was totting it up on my scoresheet and thinking, ‘out of the last four singles we need two to win and we’ve got a half’.
“It didn’t happen, but I could not be prouder of everyone who took part. They all tried their hearts out.”
Moortown’s Ben Firth has informed McKee of his availability for the next match and Cookridge Hall’s Tom Broxup should be reinstated in time for the last three games after a brief time as a professional.