Archives for September 2015

Dundalk hosts Low Fuel Card Irish PGA Championship

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Niall Kearney

TOP class golf comes to Dundalk this week when the Low Fuel Card Irish PGA Championship is staged at Dundalk Golf Club.

It’s only the third time, and the first occasion since 1969, that the Irish Professional Golf Championship has been held in Dundalk and course has been set up to challenge the top club professionals over the tournament’s four rounds which will be played from Thursday to Sunday.

The names of some of the biggest names in Irish golf such as Christy O’Connor Senior, Harry Bradshaw, Des Smyth, Eamonn Darcy, Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington have had their names etched on the famous trophy over the past 107 years and there will be no shortage of players wanting to join that illustrious list.

The defending champion is Niall Kearney who is looking to become the first player since Padraig Harrington to record back to back victories in the event having just returned from America where he holed the winning putt for Great Britain & Ireland in their historic PGA Cup win over USA on American soil.

“I like Dundalk Golf Club,” said Kearney. “I have played it quite a few times over the years but I have to admit, it has been a while – could even be back when I was playing boys interpros. It’s an ideal venue for me because I can stay at home, sleep in my own bed, all that sort of thing.”

“Winning the title last year provided me with a real springboard,” added Niall. “I got into the PGA Play-offs in Turkey and won that which gave me another confidence boost.

“That led to other opportunities like playing in the PGA Cup and the BMW PGA Championship but I wasn’t thinking of any of those at the time. I just wanted to win the championship because of the names that were on the trophy, the history and kudos associated with the event.

“This year is no different. I don’t feature on the Order of Merit, I haven’t been active enough this year but I still want to defend the Championship.”

The battle for the Irish Order of Merit has turned into a two horse race between Waterville’s David Higgins and Clontarf’s Eamon Brady and with plenty of points on offer at Dundalk this week they are not surprisingly among the favourites to relieve Kearney of his crown along with Simon Thornton who was the 2011 champion and is a European Tour regular.

Ladies European Tour regular, Rebecca Codd, will make her debut in the Irish PGA Championhip having come through qualifying on September 21. She will be joined in the field by Victoria Bradshaw, Marian O’Riordan (Ballykisteen) and Hazel Kavanagh (Carr Golf Services).

Kearney gets his campaign up and running fron the first tee at 12.50pm alongside Higgins and the vastly experienced Damien Mooney (Ballyliffin). In-form Jimmy Bolger (Kilkenny) a two-time winner in recent weeks, will tee off alongside Thornton and Brady at 12.40pm.

There will be plenty of support for local professionals Leslie Walker (Dundalk), Robert Giles (Greenore), Brian Kerley (Green Life) and Ian Brennan (Greenore) who all know the Dundalk track well. Walker had some great duels in this event a few years ago with Harrington and could reel back the years on his home track.

Dundalk Golf Club has been busily preparing for this event since it was announced and the greenkeeping staff have the course in superb condition and it is set to provide a stern test for the 105 players who tee off on Thursday.

Spectators are welcome to attend – entry is free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

History of the PGA Championship at Dundalk

While Dundalk has been associated with the Professional Golfer Associations for almost 30 years since the organisation decided to base its offices at the Blackrock course its flagship tournament has only been played there on two previous occasions.

The first was in 1953 and it attracted what was then regarded as big entry of 54 players which included some of the top players of the era including the first Irishman to win a major, Fred Daly, as well as Christy O’Connor and Harry Bradshaw who in 1958 were to team up and win the Canada Cup, later to become the World Cup, for Ireland.

The 72-hole tournament was played over two days in September and turned out to be a duel between Bradshaw and Daly, who was the defending champion.

Bradshaw opened with a carefully constructed five under par 67 which was eight better than Daly but the Balmoral player bounced back with a 67 of his own in the afternoon with included a bogey at the last when it seemed he would birdie it set a new course record.

However, Bradshaw had a 68 in the second round to take firm control of the tournament and when followed that up the following morning in the third round with a 67, his afternoon round became a procession towards his coronation as Irish champion and he returned a 70 for a four round total of 272, 16 under par.

Of the locals, Dick Ferguson finished fourth alongside Christy O’Connor Senior, while Daly finished third behind up and coming star Jimmy Martin from Greystones who was runner-up to Bradshaw.

Martin had to wait 16 years before the Irish PGA Championship returned to Dundalk and when it did he showed that his second place finish in 1953 was no fluke with a comprehensive victory as he recorded his first and only Irish PGA victory.

Level with Jimmy Kinsella of the Castle on 268, 20 under par, after four rounds, Martin took one of the few titles to have eluded him on the Irish circuit when he once the resultant play-off at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off.

The event took place in June 1969 over two days and Kinsella set the pace from the start, leading the first round with a 65 before a 66 saw him still in front at the end of the second round. A third round 67 got him to 198, two shots ahead of Martin heading into the afternoon. He maintained that two shot lead to the 17th, then a 428 yards par four, where his bogey five and Martin’s birdie three left the duo level heading to the 18th which they both parred to set up a play-off.

All Ireland Junior Cup 2015

Meet the Junior Cup squad

Front (L to R) maurice Sheridan Vice Captain, Pat Greensmith Captain Portarlington, Brendan Keane Captain Dundalk Golf Club, Joe McNamara Hon Sec Leinster Branch, Glen Walsh Manager Dundalk Team, Terry Conlon Asst Manager Dundalk Team. Back (Lto R) Aaron King, John Conlon, Alan Hurley, Connor McGaughy, Billy Cairns, Fergal Park, Eoin Murphy, Richard Newall, Cian Sheridana nd Josh Macken winners of the Leinster Golf AIG Junior Cup 2015, Portarlington Golf Club, Portarlington, Co Laois.  26/07/2015. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey All photo usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Fran Caffrey)

Dundalk Junior Cup Squad 2015 (© Golffile | Fran Caffrey)

 

Billy Cairns

The most experienced player in the team, this six handicapper is chasing his first national title having come up short in the past in both the Barton Cup and Jimmy Bruen Shield. A tough competitor with a strong short game he is a former winner of the Dundalk Intermediate Scratch Cup and was previously Golfer of the Year at Killinbeg Golf Club where he also won the club matchplay titles.

 

John Conlon

A member of the 1999 Barton Cup winning team this 32-year-old seven handicapper has also played Jimmy Bruen, Provincial Towns and Junior Cup for Dundalk. A good performer in internal club competitions.

 

Fergal Harte

This 34-year-old six handicapper was part of the Dundalk team which won an All-Ireland pennant in 2004 when the club captured the Jimmy Bruen Shield. Over the years he has represented Dundalk in Monarch Boys, Pierce Purcell, Provincial Towns Cup, Jimmy Buren Shield, Barton Cup and Junior Cup. An excellent putter he was previously won the Gold Medal for the club’s matchplay competition.

 

Alan Hurley

Originally from Bantry, Co Cork, he has a wealth of inter-club experience having played in the Junior Cup, Barton Cup and Seinor Mixed competitions. A five handicapper, he played in the Leinster semi-final against Woodbrook.

 

Aaron King

His win on the 18th in the Leinster semi-final against Woodbrook proved crucial and this five handicapper’s short game makes him a very difficult player to beat. The 25-year-old has represented Dundalk at different levels including Monarch Boys, Jimmy Bruen Shield and Junior Cup and currently plays off five.

 

Conor McCaughey

Another of the squad’s experienced players this six handicapper has previously represented Dundalk in many inter-club competitions including Provincial Towns Cup and Barton Cup. He has also been a key member of the Course Committee over the last few years overseeing a major redevelopment programme.

 

Josh Macken

Although he is the youngest member of the squad at 14 years old, Macken is vastly experienced having finished second in the National U13 Boys Championship last year and competed in the English U14 Boys Championships this year. A four handicapper, he is also the current Juvenile Captain at the club and has represented the club in several inter-club competitions.

 

Eoin Murphy

Although only 15 years old, this four handicapper has emerged as a key member of the squad having progressed through the Monarch Boys and Provincial Towns Cup teams to the Junior Cup. Strong off the tee, he produced a superb performance in the Leinster final against Clontarf to close out his match on the 15th with an impressive birdie.

 

Ricky Newell

He was the star performer in the Leinster Finals at Portarlington where he won all three of his matches including the decisive match in the final against Clontarf where he showed great composure to win a nail-biting encounter on the 19th hole. Has been in great form all year and is now off three.

 

Ciaran Sheridan

A 26-year-old five handicapper who is chasing a second All-Ireland title having been part of the squad which won the Jimmy Bruen Shield in 2004. A strong putter, he has been the star performer within the club this season and leads the Golfer of the Year competition by seven shots with one round to go.

Management Team

Clem Walshe

His many skills have come to the fore in the management of the Junior Cup team this year as has his vast experience. Although he only joined Dundalk in 2008, this four-handicapper had already tasted a lot of success at his previous club St Anne’s where he was part of their 1995 Barton Cup winning team and also won the All-Ireland Daily Mail Foursomes in addition to capturing two captain’s prizes, two club fourballs, four club foursomes, two mixed foursomes and one Gold Medal at the Dublin club. He has played Senior Cup, Barton Shield, Barton Cup, Junior Cup, Senior Mixed and Jimmy Bruen and is two-time winner of the Greenore Junior Scratch Cup.

Terry Conlon

A vastly experienced single figure handicap golfer whose experience of playing for Dundalk in Junior Cup, Barton Cup, Jimmy Bruen Shield, Provincial Towns and Carlingford Cup have been utilised in his selector role. He was part of the Dundalk squad that won Barton Cup in 1999 and was also a member of the last club team to win the Carlingford Cup. A quiet operator whose keen eye misses nothing.

 

Carton House Spectator Guide

Dundalk supporters heading to Wednesday’s AIG All-Ireland Junior Cup semi-final against Westport should consult this spectator guide prior to heading to Carton House.

Spectator Guide All Ireland Cups & Shields Finals 2105

Junior Cup team chase All-Ireland title

Dundalk Junior Cup 1

Junior Cup team with sponsor Eoin Doohan of Doohan Financial Planning

This is the biggest week on the Irish inter-club golf scene with the AIG Ireland Cups and Shields All-Ireland Finals taking place at Carton House and Dundalk Golf Club will head to the Co Kildare venue on Wednesday in search a first ever win in the Junior Cup and only the second national title in the 110 year history of the club.

Under the guidance of team manager Clem Walshe and selector Terry Conlon, this year’s Junior Cup squad have exceeded all expectations and captured the Leinster title for the first time in 21 years last July when they beat Clontarf in a thrilling final at Portarlington.

They will face Connacht champions Westport in Wednesday’s All-Ireland semi-final with the winners advancing to meet either Greenisland or Douglas in Thursday’s final.

The road to Carton House began earnest last June for the Dundalk squad when they won their North East qualifying tournament at Balbriggan on one of the worst weekend’s weather wise of the summer.

After heading the strokeplay qualifying round with an overall score of 342, to lead home Laytown & Bettystown, Ardee and Headfort, Dundalk then beat Headfort 4-1 in the semi-finals before seeing off Ardee 3-2 to advance to the Leinster Finals in July at Portarlington.

They faced Hermitage in the quarter-finals and won by 3.5 to 1.5 with Ciaran Sheridan winning his match 3&2, Richard Newell taking his 4&2 and Josh Mackin edging his by one hole.

That earned the team a semi-final joust with Woodbrook and, after Eoin Murphy had won 3&2 and Richard Newell had won 4&2, the pressure was on anchor man Aaron King with the match tied at 2-2. King held a one hole lead standing on the 18th tee and he kept his nerve to win the final hole for a two up victory and earn Dundalk a 3-2 win.

In the final Dundalk faced Clontarf and, after a 3&1 win for Ciaran Sheridan and a 4&3 victory for Eoin Murphy was balanced by defeats for Josh Macken and Aaron King it all came down to the final match out on the course where Richard Newell was looking for his third win of the weekend,

All square after 18, Newell and his Dublin opponent headed down the 19th where Newell closed out the match after a superb approach shot to six feet. For Walshe, and his squad, it was the highlight of the year, so far.

“There have been a number of memorable moments to date,” said Walshe. “It was a very tough windy day when the regional stroke play qualifiers took place in Balbriggan Golf Club and we did well to knuckle down and top our section. The Leinster finals were all very tight and we had some great battles against some excellent teams but the stand out game has to be winning the Leinster pennant in the final against Clontarf at the 19th hole in Portarlington Golf Club.”

Since that victory in July the Dundalk squad have been busy preparing for the All-Ireland Final and according to Walshe they are ready for what lies ahead over the next few days.

“I’m a great believer in ‘You’ll only get out of it what you put in’. If that stands to be true then I’m confident we’ll do well. The key is to prepare as best we can, enjoy the occasion and be proud of having the opportunity to represent our club and province against the best teams from all over the country in the 2015 All Ireland Finals,” said Walshe

“We’ve had a fairly wide and varied range of sessions over the last few months ranging from official panel meetings to playing golf to practices on the range, pitching and putting areas as well as some light hearted social get-togethers giving the lads a well-earned opportunity to give the management a hard time!”

Walshe and Conlon have already selected Aaron King, Ricky Newell, Josh Macken, Eoin Murphy, Ciaran Sheridan to tee it up on Wednesday but Walshe says that no matter which of the ten players they selected they would have full confidence in their ability to get the job done.

“Apart from their golfing ability I believe they have great strength of character and a passionate desire to win. They’ve bonded really well and support each other whether playing, caddying or subbing in matches. We’ve a big mix of characters from teenagers who are still at school or college to school teachers, accountants and builders but all with one thing in common, the belief and desire to make our members proud and represent Dundalk Golf Club to the very best of their ability every time they tee it up.”

It’s 11 years since Dundalk won its first and to date only GUI All-Ireland pennant when the Jimmy Bruen Shield team took the national title on a not to be forgotten day at Shannon Golf Club. It’s also 11 years since a Leinster club won the All-Ireland Junior Cup so there

Opportunities to win national titles don’t come along too often and fingers are crossed out in Blackrock that the Junior Cup team can follow suit this week.