Rafferty and Murphy make presence felt in West

Two Dundalk golfers certainly made their presence felt at West of Ireland Championship in Rosses Point last week and while they didn’t come away with the title, they certainly laid down markers for the season ahead.

Caolan Rafferty went one better than year by reaching the last eight while Eoin Murphy, who has just turned 17, reached the last 16 in what was his first major amateur championship.

Murphy, who is a two handicapper, had to pre-qualify for the tournament and earned one of the 20 spots on offer after a marathon seven hole play-off was needed to fill the remaining four qualifying places from the 10 players tied on 77.

On the seventh tie-hole Murphy found himself as one of three players chasing the last two spots and his hopes of qualifying looked doomed when he forced to take a penalty drop from a wall. He made a five but got through after one of his rivals played a wrong ball and incurred a two-stroke penalty.

Four other Dundalk players – Andrew Keenan, Conor Curran, Richie Newell and Neil MacKell – also played in the pre-qualifers but failed to make the cut.

Murphy took full advantage of his good fortune two days later when he teed up in the Championship proper. He shot a three under par 68 in the first of the two strokeplay qualifying rounds as he mixed three bogeys with four birdies before holing a 60-yard lob wedge for an eagle two at the 18th.

“It was a nice way to finish,” said Murphy afterwards. “”It was a good solid round of golf — I hit lots of greens and didn’t do anything too mad until the 18th. It’s my first men’s championship and to be able to compete with these boys is great.”

Although he shot a 78 in the second round, Murphy comfortably qualified for the matchplay stage as did Rafferty who shot rounds of 72 and 75 but Aaron Grant missed the cut by two shots after he followed an excellent opening round of 73 with a nine-over par 80.

In the first matchplay round Murphy was drawn against Irish international Tiarnan McLaron (Massereene) and showed no signs of nerves against one of the favourites as he trounced the Ulsterman by 6&5 and he proved it was no fluke in the afternoon when he defeated Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly by 3&2, impressing everybody as he came from two down with a tremendous run of winning holes to close the match on the 16th.

Rafferty also had a good day at the office on Easter Sunday as he saw off Tandragee’s Ross Dutton by 2&1 in the first round and then beat Andrew Hickey (Ballyhaunis) by 3&2 after lunch to reach the last 16 for the second successive year.

Unfortunately for Murphy, his magnificent run came to an end on Easter Monday morning when he was beaten 6&4 by local favourite David Brady (Co Sligo) but he certainly left his mark on the competition and showed that he has the ability to play at Irish amateur golf’s highest level.

Rafferty drew on all his experience to make the quarter-final as he was two down with four to play against Colin Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire). He birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th to go one up and also won the 18th to win the match by two holes and earn a shot at making the last day of the West.

Rafferty faced Portmarnock’s Jack Pierce in the last eight and came up against a player in the top form from tee to green. Pierce, who helped Portmarnock win the World Club Golf Championship in December, opened up a three shot lead but although Rafferty birdied the 12th to reduce the deficit to two with six to play but he was unable to reel in Pierce who won by 2&1 and was level par for his round when it finished on the 17th.

While obviously disappointed that he didn’t make the semi-finals and the final day of the Championship, Rafferty can take a lot of satisfaction from his opening major of the year having gone one better than he did in 2016.

Dundalk win Inter-Club Husband & Wife Cup

Dundalk has won the 2016 Inter Club Husband and Wife Matchplay Competition, hosted by Co Meath Golf Club, after beating a strong Killeen Castle team 3-0 in the delayed final.

Dundalk qualified for the final last September after winning three rounds but scheduling challenges led to the final being delayed until Sunday, April 9.

The Dundalk Panel consisted of Briege and Tommy Renaghan, Mary Lou and Barry Grennan, Teresa and Nigel Giff, Mags and Mickey Coburn, Anne and Gerry Murray, Mary and Sean Hession,  Siobhan and Brendan Keane.

The Dundalk team played wonderful golf in the final and came through to win with The Renaghans winning on 16, Coburns on 15 and The Murrays on 14, with the Grennans and Giffs still on the course.

Elaine Ward and Paul O Callaghan managed the team and certainly left no stone unturned in their preparations. The team were well supported on the day by a number of members as well as the Lady Captain Maeve, ex Officio Jean, 2016 Lady President Breege and President Noel who received the trophy on behalf of Dundalk.

Thanks go to Co Meath for organising the event which is in its second year. The format is changing in 2017 when it will be a fourball format with four teams representing each club and the best three cards to count. It is due to get underway in May and Dundalk are looking forward to defending their title.

Solid display earns Mernagh overall victory

Liam Mernagh (12) won Sunday’s 18 hole Singles Stableford competition after shooting 38pts in windy conditions. He won on countback from Pat McKeown (16) who took the Category 2 prize. The other category winners were Derek Murdock (10) and Noel McGuinness (18) while Peter Rogers, with a score of 33pts, took the Gross Prize.

Mernagh produced two solid nines of 19pts each on his way to victory and his round included three point pars at third, fifth, 11th and 18th. His only dropped points were at the eighth and 12th as he scored two points on every other hole. Overall, Mernagh had a round of nine pars, eight bogeys and one double-bogey.

Sunday, April 16 – 18 Hole Singles Stableford – Overall: Liam Mernagh (12) 38/19pts. Category 1 (0-10): Derek Murdock (10) 37/20pts, Martin Crosby (9) 37pts. Category 2 (11-17): Pat McKeown (16) 38pts, Paddy Duffy (13) 35/18pts. Category 3 (18-28): Noel McGuinness (18) 37pts, Noel Crowe  (26) 34/17/15pts. Gross: Peter Rogers 33pts.

Cunningham leads Gold Medal qualifiers

The weekend action was dominated by the Gold Medal Qualifiers which took place on Saturday and Sunday and attracted a large entry of players battling to win one of the 64 places on offer for the matchplay stages.

The leading qualifier was 10 handicapper Barry Cunningham who posted a 67 on Sunday where the cut was 77/37.5, one higher than Saturday’s cut of 76.

Qualifiers are requested to advise the Tournament Committee if they are unable to participate in the Gold Medal Match play competition. The draw will take place on Wednesday, April 12.

The qualifiers were played over the long blue course but Cunningham began with three straight pars and after bogeying the index one par four fourth and the par three fifth he got back to playing par golf over the nine holes to the 14th.

Bogeys followed over the next three holes but he finished with a par for a fine gross score of 77 and a nett 67 to take the leading qualifier prize.

The Competition Scratch score for Saturday was 73 and Sunday was 74.

Gold Medal Qualifiers: Barry Cunningham, Padraig Fallon, Chris Murden, Ultan Gaughran, Michael Gill, Eoghan McKenna, Pat Daly, Neil Mullooly, Kevin Redmond, Brian Ward, Maurice J Murphy, Martin Byrne, Gerry Oakes, Dessie Ward, Dillon Greene, Gerry Campbell, Turlough King, Dermot Ahern, Martin Farrelly, Gareth Halpin, Conall Murdock, Oliver McGinnity, Liam McGailey, Cian Lynch-McCrave, Diarmuid McAdam, Conor Hackett, Gerry J Byrne, Austin Shaw, Frank Byrne, Gregory McCaughey, Fergal Sexton, B Reilly, Sean O’Sullivan, Patrick Purton, Maurice Soraghan, Eamon Kelly, Jamie McCaul, Sean Laverty, Eddie Rocks, Ollie Reilly, Alan Hurley, Liam Mernagh, Seamus Bailey, Dennis Cunningham, Andrew Cumiskey, Anthony McGuinness, Vincent Conlon, Alan Cole, David Brennan, Richard Barry, Eddie Sheridan, Ciaran Sheridan, Robert O’Hanlon, Adrian Kenny, Jim Dwyer, Michael Flynn, Trevor Giff, Kieran Reidy, Ciaran Traynor, Peter Fitzpatrick, Billy Cairns, Len Mullins, Carl Stewart, Tommy Renaghan..



Centra Winter League Finals on Sunday

The finals of the Tiernan’s Centra Blackrock Winter League will take place on Sunday morning with 16 matches down for decision.

Following the fourth round of the League last Sunday, the top 32 players have been drawn to play each other over 18 holes with the top qualifier playing the last qualifier and so on. The pairings are below. The 32 finalists will also be eligible to win the normal singles stableford competition.

The final will be matchplay stableford format with the total stableford points counting. In the event of a tie the higher seeded player will win as there will be no countback. The presentation to the 16 winners will take place at 1.15pm in the clubhouse.

Tiernan’s Centra Blackrock Winter League Finals: 08:40: Conall Murdock v Jim Dwyer, Barry Cunningham v Edmund Sheridan, 08:50: Billy Cairns v Colm Garvey, William McKeever v Danny Miele, 09:00: Ken Cairns v Martin Byrne, Frank Byrne v Brian Ward. 09:10: Brian Mernagh v Micheal Gill, Kevin Barry v Michael Stewart. 09:20: Niall McCaul v Vincent Conlon, Dennis Cunningham v Maurice Soraghan. 09:30: Alan Uzell v Alan Cole, Anthony O’Donoghue v Brian Gaughran. 09:40: Richard Barry v John McKeever, Ray Pepperv Connor McCaughey. 09:50: Gavin McDonnell v Patrick Cole, Eddie Rocks v Barry Grennan. 10:00: Mickey Coburn v Noel McGuinness.


Practice pays for Rocks

Sunday saw the start of the Winter League, sponsored by Tiernans Centra, Blackrock, and, much to the relief of the 127 players who teed-off, the temperatures were considerably higher than the previous weekend.

There is an old adage in golf that practice makes perfect and so it will come as no surprise to those who saw Eddie Rocks hard at work on the practice ground over the past week that he recorded his first overall victory of the season on Sunday.

The 11-handicapper was one of three players to return a score of 32pts for the 13 holes but took victory on the second round of countback from Barry Cunningham (10) and Conall Murdock (8) as the Category 1 golfers showed their class.

There was some consolation for Murdock as he took the Gross Prize with a fine score of 26pts after being edged out by Cunningham for the Category 1 prize.

Peter O’Brien (18) took Category 2 with 30pts from Willie McKeever (17) on 29pts while Category 3 went to Mark Browne (22) on 31pts which was three clear of Anthony McGuinness (23) in second on 28pts.

Playing off 11 and having only eight shots over the 13 holes, Rocks had a blemish free round as he returned a card that contained six three point holes and seven two point holes.

His first three points came from a par four at the second and he added another at the third with another par four. Another par, and three points, followed at the eighth before a birdie two at the ninth yielded his fourth three pointer of the round and saw him complete the front nine in 22pts.

Back to back pars and two more three pointers followed at the par-five 10th and par four 16th before pars at the 17th and 18th where he didn’t have any shots.

In all, his round consisted of one birdie, nine pars and three bogeys and sent out a strong message that practice does pay off.

Sunday, February 19 – 13 Hole Singles Stableford/Winter League Round 1 (sponsored by Tiernans Centra, Blackrock) – Overall: Eddie Rocks (11) 32/22/16pts. Category 1 (0-12): Barry Cunningham (10) 32/22pts, Conall Murdock (8) 32pts. Category 2 (13-18): Peter O Brien (18) 30pts, Willie McKeever (17) 29/20pts. Category 3 (19-28): Mark Browne (22) 31pts, Anthony McGuinness (23) 28/19pts. Best Gross: Conall Murdock 26pts.

Dwyer masters the wind to win

On a freezing cold day, made even more difficult by the strong winds, Jim Dwyer (8) was the only player to reach 30pts in last Sunday’s 13 Hole Singles Stableford competition.

That was enough to give him overall victory by one point from Seamus Bailey (12) and Clem Walshe (5) who scored 29pts. In addition to his third place finish, Walshe also took the Gross Prize with 25pts.

Dwyer returned a blemish free card made up of four three point holes and nine two point holes. Three of those three pointers came from the opening three holes which he parred and he also parred the par-five seventh for another three points.

Two point pars came at the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, tenth, 17th and 18th and he had shots at the fourth and 16th which he bogeyed for two points at each.

The category honours went to Conall Murdock (8), Kenneth Cairns (14) and Peter O’Brien (18).

Sunday, February 12 – 13 Hole Singles Stableford – Overall: Jim Dwyer (8) 30pts, Seamus Bailey (12), 29/19/14pts, Clem Walshe (5) 29pts. Category 1 (0-11): Conall Murdock (8) 28pts, Category 2 (12-17): Kenneth Cairns (14) 28pts. Category 3 (18-28): Peter O’Brien (18) 28pts. Best Gross: Clem Walshe 25pts.

O’Brien unmatched as he takes Sunday prize

Eighteen handicapper Peter O’Brien was the winner of Sunday’s 13 Hole Singles Stableford competition as he turned in an unmatched score of 38pts.

That was enough to give him a two point victory over Derek Murdock (10) who had settled for winning Category 1 where he edged out Christy Ward (9) by a point.

Patsy Arrowsmith (14) took the Category 2 honours with a score of 33pts but he need a six hole countback to see off the challenge of Willie McKeever (17) who had matched him over 13 and nine holes respectively.

Michael Browne (21) was the Category 3 winner with his score of 35pts being one better than that of Tom Cheevers (23).

Billy Cairns (6) was the winner of the Gross Prize with a fine score of 28pts.

Sunday, February 5 – 13 Hole Singles Stableford – Overall: Peter O’Brien (18) 38pts. Category 1 (0-11): Derek Murdock (10) 36pts, Christy Ward (9) 35pts. Category 2 (12-17): Patsy Arrowsmith (14) 33/23/17pts, Willie McKeever (17) 33pts. Category 3 (18-28): Michael Browne (21) 35pts, Tom Cheevers (23) 34pts. Gross: Billy Cairns (6) 28pts.

Cairns burns it up to take Sunday prize

David Cairns (18) won Sunday’s 13 Hole Singles Stableford competition with the sort of round that most golfers can only dream about.

His 38pts haul consisted of three bogeys, nine pars and an eagle as produced a round that was the equivalent of 12 under par.

With a shot on every hole, Cairns opened with a bogey for two points before notching his first par of the day at the second for three points and another bogey at the third left him on seven points.

Then came a period of amazing scoring as Cairns parred the next six holes, picking up 18 points, and turned for home at the ninth on 25pts.

An eagle three at the 10th yielded another five points and he then parred 16 and 17 for a further six points before taking a bogey five at the 18th to finish his round on 38pts.

That was two points better than 14 handicapper Michael Kelly who edged out Clem Walsh (6) on countback for second place after both were tied on 36pts

Category winners were Fergal Sexton (11), Brian Ward (15) and Peter O’Brien (18) while Peter Rogers (2) took his second gross prize of the year with an excellent score of 29pts.
Sunday, January 29 – 13 Hole Singles Stableford Competition – Overall: David Cairns (18) 38pts, Michael Kelly (14) 36/26pts, Clem Walshe (5) 36/24pts. Category 1 (0-11): Fergal Sexton (11) 35pts. Category 2 (12-17): Brian Ward (15) 34/25pts. Category 3 (18-28): Peter O’Brien (18) 36pts. Gross: Peter Rogers (2) 29pts.


Mernagh’s strong finish delivers victory

Countback was needed to separate the four golfers who returned best of the day scores of 32pts in last Sunday’s 13 Hole Singles Stableford competition.

Last week’s winner Kenneth Cairns (17) was among the quartet but he failed to make the podium and had to settle for winning Category 2. However, two prizes from the opening two weeks of the year isn’t a bad return.

Sean Hession, now playing off five after a very consistent 2016, was the man who edged Cairns off the podium with a score of 17pts for the final nine holes played, which because of ongoing course improvement work was the fifth to the 10th and the 16th to the 18th.

John McKeever (11) is a player who was starting to get the measure of the course towards the end of last year and was an overall winner in November. He went close to a second victory on Sunday but came up short as his countback score of 19pts was three less than Brian Mernagh’s 22pts.

Mernagh produced an almost flawless round. He scored on each on the 13 holes and only once, when he had a bogey four at the par three ninth, did he have to settle for a solitary point.

His opening four holes yielded 10pts thanks to three point pars at third and fourth holes and he picked up another three points at the seventh when he parred the par five. Mernagh covered the opening nine holes in 20pts but finished his round with flourish over the four holes on the back nine that were in play.

At the par five 10th, a birdie four yielded four points and he picked up another three by parring the 16th. A par at the 17th, where he didn’t have a shot, got him another two points and he then parred the 18th for three points.

That return of 12pts from the final four holes proved crucial and gave Mernagh his first win of 2017.

In addition to Carins, the other category winners were Conall Mudock (8) and Ray Pepper (20) while Maurice Murphy (3) took the gross prize with 26pts, the equivalent of level par.

The Tournament Committee will run a Winter League team event from February 5 to April 2. The entry fee is €5 and the entry box is located in the bar. The closing date for entries is January 29 at 6pm.

Sunday, January 22 – 13 Hole Singles Stableford – Overall: Brian Mernagh (12) 32/22pts, John McKeever (11) 32/19pts, Sean Hession (5) 32/17pts. Gross: Maurice Murphy (3) 26pts. Category 1 (0-11): Conall Murdock (8) 31pts. Category 2 (12-17): Kenneth Cairns (17) 32pts. Category 3 (18-28): Ray Pepper (20) 31pts.