Trip to Tipp in search of Barton Shield glory

Dundalk Golf Club is making its own Trip to Tipp this week as its senior panel heads to Thurles for the All-Ireland Finals of the Barton Shield.

Having won the club’s first ever senior title in July when they captured the Barton Shield Leinster pennant, the senior panel are now looking to make history again by landing a first ever national pennant at senior level.

Dundalk’s only previous national men’s golf title was in 2004 when they won the Jimmy Bruen Shield and there is a strong desire around the Blackrock links to add another.

But it’s not going to be easy as Dundalk will face Munster champions Kinsale in their semi-final on Thursday morning and if they come through that assignment they will meet either Clandeboye or Athenry in Friday’s final.

The Munster finals were held in Thurles a few weeks ago so Kinsale will feel very much at home when they tee it up on Thursday. The Cork men are also guaranteed big support as they have also qualified for the national finals of the Jimmy Bruen Shield which are also being played in Thurles this week.

Like Dundalk, Kinsale won their first provincial Barton Shield pennant this year when they beat Munster Senior Cup winners Dungarvan in the provincial semi-final and then defeated Castletroy in the final.

They did it without their top player, Irish international John Murphy, a plus five handicap player who is on a golf scholarship in America. Murphy has had a great year, winning the St Andrews Trophy and making Ireland’s Eisenhower Trophy team so it remains to be seen if Kinsale will stick with the four men who got them to this stage – Gary Ward, Keith Fitzpatrick, Cathal Butler and Eric Rumley – or bring Murphy home to strengthen their challenge.

However, Alan McCabe, who manages the Dundalk team along with John Conlon, says the fact that Kinsale won the Munster title without Murphy shows the strength of their panel and he added that Dundalk will face a formidable challenge no matter who they face.

“They have an immediate advantage from the Munster finals being played in Thurles and having two teams qualified for this week means they will have no shortage of support. Winning a Munster senior title is no mean feat so they have to be respected. All we can do is concentrate on ourselves and ensure that we are ready to go on Thursday morning. We are well aware that we may never get this opportunity again to win a national title. This is a unique chance for the boys to bring a national pennant back to Dundalk and we intend to give it our best shot,” said McCabe.

Dundalk were in Thurles last weekend practicing and will head south on Tuesday to begin final preparations on a track that is not too dissimilar to their own course according to McCabe.

“It is similar to our own in that it is a traditional parkland course and a members club. The holes are tree-lined and there are some tricky greens. It is a great venue and the members and staff were lovely.”

The Barton Shield is a foursomes competition with each club fielding two pairings and the overall match is decided by the aggregate score of the two matches.

Dundalk will select their four players for Thursday’s semi-final from an eight strong panel that includes Irish international and South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty as well Aaron Grant, Eoin Murphy, Josh Mackin, Brendan Lawlor, Neal MacKell, Andrew Keenan and Conor Curran. All have been playing well this year and McCabe admits they face some tough decisions.

“There is huge competition among the eight players and they have pushed each other very hard all year. They have a great spirit and the four who don’t play will be fully behind those who are playing. They are proud to be not only representing the club but also Dundalk, Louth and Leinster.”



AIG All-Ireland Barton Shield at Thurles Golf Club

Thursday, October 4

Semi-Finals: Dundalk v Kinsale 08:20, Clandeboye v Athenry 08:40

Friday, October 5

Final: 10:15

Birdie blitz helps Roche to victory

Colin Roche (7) was an impressive winner of Sunday’s Singles Stableford competition with a score of 44pts.

Roche’s round saw him cover the front nine in 23pts as he birdied the two par fives and had six pars on his way to the turn.

His back nine was also impressive as he got off to a flyer with birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th and he had four more pars on his way to 21pts for the inward nine and that overall total of 44pts.

Roche scored on every hole and actually went around in 71 strokes, which is a gross score of one under par.

Shane McGuinness (14), who is having a tremendous year, shot the second best score on the day with 42pts and that was enough to give him Category 2. David Murden (9) took Category 1 on countback after shooting 37pts while Anthony McCrave (22) with 38pts was the Category 3 winner.

Christy Ward (7) won last Wednesday’s Open Singles Stableford with a fine score of 41pts which was two better than the in-form Eddie Rogers (3) who followed up his win in Knights of Malta Cup with a super score of 39pts to take Category 1 and his gross score of 36pts was also the best on the day.

Sunday, September 30 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Colin Roche (7) 44pts. Category 1 (0-11): David Murden (9) 37/17pts, Trevor Giff (10) 37pts. Category 2 (12-17): Shane McGuinness (14) 42pts, M.J. Gallagher (13) 41pts. Category 3 (18+): Anthony McCrave (22) 38pts, Dessie Corbett (21) 35pts. CSS: 72 (36pts).

Rogers takes Knights of Malta Cup

Eddie Rogers won the final cup of the season on Sunday when he shot the only sub-par round of the day to capture the Knights of Malta Cup.

Playing off four, Rogers shot a one-under par 71 to edge out Ciaran Daly (18) and Trevor Giff (11) by one shot on a day when slick greens and a strong wind provided a stern test for the 160 strong field.

Rogers went through the opening nine holes in level par gross as he shot seven pars, a birdie and a bogey with the birdie coming at the par three ninth.

More birdies followed at the par five 10th, and par three 13th but as the wind picked up the going got tougher and he bogeyed the 11th, 14th, 15th and 18th to come home in 39 gross. That gave him a gross score of 75 and a nett score of 71 and set an early clubhouse lead that wasn’t bettered.

Daly edged out Giff on countback to take second overall with the latter winning Category 2 while Terry Conlon (6) and Derek Teather (16) took Categories 1 and 3 respectively. Padraig Greenan claimed the Juvenile Prize while Senior Panel member Neal MacKell (2) took the Gross Prize with a 74.

Sunday, September 23 – Knights of Malta Cup – Overall: Eddie Rogers (4) 71, Ciaran Daly (18) 72/35. Gross: Neal MacKell (2) 74. Category 1 (0-10): Terry Conlon (6) 73, Damian English (10) 74/37. Category 2 (11-15): Trevor Giff (11) 72, Patrick Duffy (13) 73. Category 3 (16 +): Derek Teather (16) 74/37, Vincent Duffy (25) 74. Juvenile: Padraig Grennan (17) 75. CSS: 75.


Rafferty wins One Finance Dundalk Scratch Cup

LOCAL hero Caolan Rafferty won the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup for the second time in three years at Dundalk Golf Club.

The 25-year-old shot two rounds of 68 for an eight under par total of 136 to win his home tournament by six shots from Co Louth’s Gerard Dunne, who stormed through the field after an opening 79 to take second place on two under thanks to a course record nine under par 63 in the second round.

In the morning, Rafferty had covered the opening nine in one-under par after an eagle three at the par five sixth and a bogey at the par four eighth and he then birdied the 10th, 14th and 18th on the way in to take lead after the opening round on four under.

That left him two shots ahead of Max Kennedy, Tom McKibben and Evan Farrell who all shot two under par 70s while Eanna Griffin was a shot further back on 71.

However, none of the chasers managed to mount an attack on Rafferty in the afternoon with Kennedy shooting 81, McKibben 83 and Farrell 80 to drop out of contention while Griffin managed a level par 72 to finish on one under.

During the second round Rafferty moved to five under with a birdie at the par four second but then bogeyed the par three fifth. However, back to back birdies at the sixth and seventh saw him turn in six under for the tournament and he got to nine under with three to go after birdies at 10, 14 and 15.

But Rafferty, who was playing his sixth competitive round in five days having been away with Ireland at the Home Internationals in Wales, admitted the fatigue finally caught up on him on the par three 17th when he overcooked his pitch from the right of the green and took two putts for a bogey four,

He then missed the par four 18th green with his approach but found enough energy to get up and down for par and finish on eight under and six clear of Dunne.

“It was two steady rounds,” said Rafferty afterwards. “I was slow to get going but the eagle on six gave me the kick-start I needed. In the second round after I birdied 10 I had chances on 11, 12 and 13 and just missed. A couple of years ago that would have got me down, I would have been upset that I didn’t get one of them and the whole round would have gone to pot. But I stuck at it and birdied 14 and 15. Seventeen was when the tiredness really kicked-in and the concentration levels were really low but it was nice to hole a putt for par on the last and not finish with a bogey.”

Rafferty acknowledged that his win in this tournament two years ago kick-started his emergence as one of the top players in the country during which he has established himself as an international squad member and captured this year’s South of Ireland Championship, his first major title.

“I started this year by winning the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup, I’ve won the South of Ireland Championship and now I have won this so it’s nice to have won those trophies and the Inter-Varsities Cup as well. It has been a good year even though I missed a couple of cuts at the wrong time of the year but I didn’t get down on myself. I am maturing and accepting what will be, will be,” said Rafferty.

He will now take a break from golf before returning next month to lead Dundalk’s bid for a first national title at senior level when they compete in the AIG Barton Shield All-Ireland Finals at Thurles Golf Club.

“It’s been a long year, the body is starting to ache a little bit so I’m looking forward to a bit of a break before the Barton Shield.”

Dunne’s course record in the afternoon, when he shot a bogey free nine under par 63, was one better than the previous best set by Dundalk’s Aaron Grant last year.

It was also a massive 16 shots better than his first round total of 79 in the morning but it was during that round that the seeds were sown for his record score.

“I was not swinging it well the last few weeks but I figured something out on the 16th this morning and when I was going down the first in my second round I said to Evan Farrell that I was going to birdie every second hole and shoot nine under. I’m glad I kept my word,” said Dunne who finished six shots behind Rafferty in second place on two under.

Dunne’s 63 was made up of seven birdies and an eagle at the par five 10th when he holed a putt from off the green after a 3 wood approach shot.

The presentation of the Dundalk Scratch Cup took place in the clubhouse where Caolan Rafferty was presented with the trophy by sponsor Martin McDonnell of One Finance and Dundalk Captain Gerry Byrne.

DUNDALK SCRATCH CUP sponsored by One Finance: 136 – Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 68, 68. 142 – Gerard Dunne (Co Louth) 79, 63. 143 – Joshua Robinson (Lisburn) 72, 71; Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 71, 72; 146 – Conor Curran (Dundalk) 75, 71; John McCarthy (The Island) 74, 72; Eugene Smith (Laytown & Bettystown) 75, 71; 147 – G McAuley (Dunmurry) 76, 71; Shane McGlynn (Portmarnock) 75, 72; Eoin Murphy (Dundalk) 74, 73; Aaron Marshall (Lisburn) 72, 75; Ronan McCrory (Lisburn) 79, 69.

Best Nett: Conor Curran (1, Dundalk) 144 (74/70)

First 18 Gross: Max Kennedy (+2, Royal Dublin) 70/33

First 18 Nett: Evan Farrell (Scr, Ardee) 70

Second 18 Gross: Ronan McCrory (Scr, Lisburn) 69

Second 18 Nett: Ronan Cowhey (2, Elm Park) 70.

CSS: 73 (Round 1), 73 (Round 2).



Rafferty bidding for second Dundalk Scratch Cup victory

Pictured at the launch of the 2018 Dundalk Scratch Cup sponsored by One Finance were (from left): Pat Cleary (Lady Captain); Martin McDonnell (One Finance), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk & Ireland), Niall McDonnell (One Finance) and Gerry Byrne (Captain).

SOUTH of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty will be the big draw when the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup takes place this Sunday (September 16) over 36 holes at Dundalk Golf Club.

Since he first won the competition in 2016, Rafferty has firmly established himself as one of the top amateur players in Ireland and is currently the second highest ranked Irishman in the World Amateur Golf Rankings where he sits this week in 63rd place.

He will head home to Dundalk after spending the earlier part of this week in the Welsh seaside resort of Conwy as part of an Irish team looking to win the Home Internationals for a fifth year in a row.

Last year, Rafferty had to settle for third place behind Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell in his defence of a title that includes the likes of three times major winner Padraig Harrington among its former champions since its inception in 1963 when David Sheahan was the first winner.

Rafferty’s presence alone is sure to guarantee a large crowd at Dundalk on Sunday as the locals avail of a rare opportunity to see the 25-year-old in competitive action over his home course.

Rafferty will lead a strong home challenge into this year’s competition with all eight members of Dundalk’s Senior Panel included in the field as they battle for places in next month’s All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final at Thurles Golf Club.

Entries are still open but the field already includes plenty of quality with the likes of Colin Woodroofe, Aaron Marshall, Eugene Smith, Max Kennedy, TJ Forde, Jack McDonnell and Cian Geraghty among the early entrants for an event that is firmly established as one of the top Scratch Cups in the country.

The greenkeeping staff at the Dundalk have been working hard over the last few weeks to have the course in top shape for Sunday and the course record of 64, which was set last year by Aaron Grant, could be under threat.


Another win for McGuinness as he lands Cochrane Cup

Shane McGuinness, who earlier in the season captured the Minor Scratch Cup, added another important trophy to his sideboard when he won the Cochrane Cup on Sunday.

Now playing off 15, McGuinness needed a strong back nine to pip another 15 handicapper, Len Mullins, after the two returned five-under par nett scores of 67 on a day when a strong swirling wind asked plenty of questions of the field.

Mullins, who was an early morning starter, set the score to beat after a steady round that saw him show great composure on the index three par five seventh to record a solid six after a bit of trouble on the tee.

McGuinness, playing the afternoon, began steadily but wasn’t as fortunate as Mullins on the seventh where he racked up a triple bogey eight. However, pars at the eighth and ninth helped him in turn in 36 nett.

Three more pars followed at the 10th, 11th and 12th before a bogey four at the index 16, 13th was followed by a par at the short par four 14th. McGuinness then birdied the difficult par four 15th and parred the long par four 16th before finishing with bogeys on the final two holes to come home in 31 nett for an 18 hole nett total of 67.

Ken Lynch (12) was the only other player in the field to shoot in the sixties as he recorded a 69 to take Category 2 while Maurice Soraghan (10) claimed Category 1 and Nigel Giff (21) won Category 3. Senior Panel member Conor Curran (1) took the Gross Prize with a level par 72 while Padraig Grennan (17) was the Juvenile winner.

Sunday, September 9 – Cochrane Cup – Overall: Shane McGuinness (15) 67/30.5, Len Mullins (15) 67/34.5. Gross: Conor Curran (1) 72. Category 1 (0-11): Maurice Soraghan (10) 71/35, Rian McDonnell (7) 71/35.5. Category 2 (12-16): Ken Lynch (12) 69, Derek Teather (16) 72/35. Category 3 (17+): Nigel Giff (21) 71/34.5, Conor McClenaghan (23) 71. Juvenile: Padraig Grennan (17) 73. CSS: 72.



Caolan Rafferty selected for Home Internationals

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty, has been selected on the Ireland team which will bid for a fifth successive victory at the Home Internationals at Conwy Golf Club, Wales, from September 12 to 14.

Last week Caolan was part of a Leinster team that finished third in the Inter-Provincials at Athenry Golf Club and won 4.5pts out of a possible six over the course of the week.


McCaughey’s fine form continues

Having led home the Sunday qualifiers in the recent Captain’s Prize, and got cut as a result, Gregory McCaughey showed on Sunday that he has now adjusted to his new seven handicap when he won the Past Captain’s and Members Stableford competition.

McCaughey shot a super round of 43pts over the green course to take his first overall victory of 2018 by two points from Jimmy O’Connor (20) and Terry Conlon (7).

He got off to the best possible start by picking up nine points from the opening three holes as he scored three point birdies at one and two and a three point par at the third. Although he could only manage one point when he bogeyed the par three fifth, he more than made amends when he birdied the par five seventh for a further four points.

That helped him turn with 22pts and another three point par at the 11th was followed by three point birdies at the 13th and 14th before back to back three point pars at the 15th and 16th. He could even afford the luxury of no points at the 18th, following a double bogey six, and still win by two clear points.

It was also a day to remember for 11 handicapper Brian McDonnell who had a hole in one at the fifth as his wedge, from 120 metres off the tee and into the wind, took two hops before rolling into the hole.

Brendan Keane (11), Bobby McCarthy (16) and Mark Coan (26) took the category prizes with Cillian Halpenny (20) taking the juvenile prize.

Two members of the club’s Senior Panel, who are currently preparing for the Barton Shield All-Ireland Finals in Thurles in October, also featured among the prizes after excellent rounds. Eoin Murphy (+1) took the Gross Prize with 39pts while Conor Curran (2) was second in Category 1 with 40pts.

Sunday, August 26 – Past Captains and Members Stableford Competition – Overall: Gregory McCaughey (7) 43pts, Jimmy O’Connor (20) 41pts, Terry Conlon (7) 41/19pts. Category 1 (0-11): Brendan Keane (11) 41pts, Conor Curran (2) 40/22pts. Category 2 (12-17): Bobby McCarthy (16) 40/21/12/6pts, Kenneth Cairns (14) 40/21. Category 3 (18+): Mark Coan (26) 40/19/13pts, Sean O’Sullivan (18) 40. Best Gross: Eoin Murphy (+1) 39pts. Juvenile: Cillian Halpenny (20) 43pts. CSS 70/38pts.

County titles for Boys U18 and U15 teams

Dundalk Golf Club’s Boys’ U18 Monarch Cup winning team. From left: Zak Alderdice, Michael Staunton, Paul Malone (manager), Vincent Conlon (manager), Conor Murphy, Declan Curtin, Joseph Laverty. Absent: Sean Laverty.

THE inter-cub juvenile season finished on a high for the club as our Boys U18, U15 and U13 teams reached three county finals and won two of them recently at Ardee Golf Club.

The U18s won the Monarch Trophy for the fourth time in five years and completed an impressive three-in-row in the process. They beat Co Louth in the semi-final with Zak Alderdice & Declan Curtin and Michael Staunton & Conor Murphy both winning 2&1 to secure the win. In the final against Ardee, Staunton & Murphy sealed their victory on the 13th but Alderdice & Curtin were beaten the 15th leaving the match delicately poised with Dundalk’s hopes resting on cousins Sean and Joseph Laverty. They had been three down after nine but got the match back to all square by the 15th and then won the 16th and 17th to snatch a 2&1 win and secure the winning point for Dundalk. It was a great win for Dundalk who used 12 different players throughout the competition and fielded five U16s in the final. It was Dundalk’s 11th win in the competition since it started in 1991.

The U15s claimed their third Seapoint Trophy with wins over Greenore in the semi-final and Co Louth in the final. The team was Tom Dunne, Christopher Clarke, Cillian Halpenny and James Reilly with Fionn Duffy as the unused sub. It’s been a great year for Cillian Halpenny as he was named Juvenile Golfer of the Year and the end of season awards night last week.

The U13s just missed out making it a treble for Dundalk as they went down to Greenore in the final of the McCooey Cassidy Trophy having beaten Co Louth in the semi-final. This was another very young team and there is no doubt that Lee Egan, Cian Spaight, Rory Henry and Eoin Purton as well as the unused subs Ben Cahill and Sean Spaight are ones to watch in the coming years.

Dundalk Golf Club’s Boys’ U15 Seapoint Trophy winning team. From left: Paul Malone (manager), Fionn Duffy, James Reilly, Chris Clarke, Jim Carragher (manager), Tom Dunne, Cillian Halpenny, Vincent Conlon (manager)

McKenna edges out Ward in Sunday shoot-out

Dermot McKenna and Shaun Ward both shot the lights out in Sunday’s Singles Stableford competition with McKenna taking the overall victory by a single point after shooting 45pts to nine handicapper Ward’s 44pts.

McKenna, who plays off 19 and was a member of the All-Ireland Fourball team which lost to the eventual winners Malahide in the Leinster quarter-finals, teed off at midday, a couple of hours after Sunday’s heavy rain storm had passed through the area and he took full advantage of the softer condition with two three point pars on the opening two holes. Back to back three point pars then followed at the fifth and sixth holes and the eighth and ninth holes as he reached the turn in 24 points.

Down the back nine he recorded four more three pint pars at the 10th, 15th, 17th and 18th to come home in 21pts and it was that par on the final hole which took him to 45pts and left him just out of the reach of Ward who went so close to taking the overall prize.

Conor McCaughey (5) won Category 1, David Cairns (16) took Category 2 and Conor McArdle (19) claimed Cateogry 3 while Senior Panel member Neal MacKell (2) kicked off the battle to play in the All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final by shooting the best gross score of the day.

Sunday, August 26 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Dermot McKenna (19) 45pts, Shaun Ward (9) 44pts. Category 1 (0-11): Conor McCaughey (5) 38/21pts. Category 2 (12-17): David Cairns (16) 39pts. Category 3 (18+): Conor McArdle (19) 41pts. Best Gross: Neal MacKell (2) 36pts. Juvenile: James Murtagh (25) 42pts. CSS: 72 (36pts).