IN the first of a three part review of the 2016 season, John Manning takes a look at the significance behind this year’s World Cup win, the staging of the Irish Open in Rocklodge along with our U-16 events in the past year.
World Cup and Irish Open
EAMON Gibney (Castletown) captained Ireland to 2016 World Cup success. In so doing, Eamon became the eleventh different individual to win World Cup honours. Ireland clinched the World Cup for the third successive time and is now the most successful team in World Cup history. John Walsh (Collins) and John Ross Crangle (Loughlinstown) are the third and fourth players to win two World Cup winners medals (Ray Murphy and Marc Lloret are the others). Xixerella, Andorra is the second course (after Chia, Sardinia) to host both the European Team championship and the World Cup. 2016 represented the first time Ireland has played Catalonia in the World Cup final. The sides have clashed four times in the European Team championship deciders. John Ross Crangle’s 45 in Andorra equalled the low first 18 in the five World Cup Strokeplay qualifying tournaments. Ireland’s 3-2 final victory over the Catalans equals the tightest ever final victory margin. The Catalans themselves defeated the Dutch by 3-2 in 2004.
Frank Dineen (St. Annes) polished off his third round with six birdies to win a second Irish Open title on 135 at Rocklodge, having previously triumphed at R.G.S.C. in 2010. Frank finished just a shot ahead of Deerpark’s Damien Fleming, who now boasts two wins, a second place and a fifth slot in the five Irish Opens since 2009. After her 163 at Rocklodge, Breda Lonergan was the first player to ever win the Irish Ladies Open and the Irish Ladies Strokeplay in the same year. Having won the British Open at Dagenham, Mary Murray finished in the top two for the second successive international open when she was runner-up to Breda Lonergan at Rocklodge. With a score of 151, European Senior Strokeplay champion Pacelli Darcy (Bruff) won the Over 55s category at an international open for the fifth time just ahead of Anthony Malone and Sean Minogue.
2016 was yet another phenomenal year in the extraordinary Pitch and Putt career of Geraldine Ward. The Portmarnock legend racked up her tenth National Matchplay championship success with an 8&6 final victory over Eleanor Walsh (Fermoy) at Seapoint.
Seapoint has hosted the National Ladies Matchplay on four occasions. That equals the venue most often used for the championship along with Ierne and Hillview. Ger has been in the Matchplay final every time the event has been played in Seapoint, winning twice. Her 32 year (1984-2016) gap between her first and most recent win in the Matchplay eclipsed the record previously held by Margaret Hogan (1980-2011). 1988 winner Eleanor Walsh (2012, 2016) became the 12th multiple losing finalist in National Ladies Matchplay history. Only two of those 12 have failed to win the title at least once. Ger Ward has now contested 20 National Matchplay semi-finals in which she has a win percentage of 70%. Chrissie Byrne also boasts a 70% winning percentage in her ten semi-finals.
Shane Murphy became the 11th Cork winner of the National Matchplay championship in twelve years, when the Raffeen Creek player defeated Dayle Donohoe (St. Patrick’s) by 4&3 in the Gent’s final. Shane joined Chris Scannell and Darren Collins as former National Intermediate Strokeplay champions who went on to win the National Matchplay. It was the fifth consecutive National Gent’s Matchplay win by a Cork representative. Dayle Donohoe narrowly failed to become the first lefthander to win the National Matchplay since Tony Maley in 1978, also at Seapoint. Donohoe was also the first player representing a Wexford club to contest the National Gents Matchplay Championship final.
Royal Meath (1979, 1997, 2016) became outright the venue most often used for the National U-16 Strokeplay and was also the first ever host of the newly-introduced National U-16 Matchplay championship. Lucan’s Aoife Mahon scored 121 to become the tenth multiple winner of the National Girls Strokeplay. Aoife is now the sixth player to win the Girls Strokeplay in successive years and the first to achieve this feat since Elaine Dee in 2005/06. Katie Rose Heeney (Bellewstown) emulated her brother Luke (2012) with a second placing in the National Juvenile Strokeplay championship. Katie Rose won the National Girls Matchplay six weeks after finishing second in the Strokeplay, also at Royal Meath. A 36 hole tally of 96 ensured that Evan Carry (Castletown) is the fourth Co. Meath winner of the Boys' Strokeplay championship and the first since 2004. Evan's five shot winning margin in the National Boys Strokeplay championship is the biggest since 2005. Lorcan Martin became the second Deerpark player in-a-row to finish runner-up in the National Boys Strokeplay championship.
Cork recorded a team total of 398 en route to their 17th Juvenile Inter-County win, which extends their lead at the top of the Tommy Murphy Cup Roll of Honour. Kerry (with 417) moved up to eight runners-up places in the Juvenile Inter-County championship, level in second place with Dublin on that particular list. Kerry have finished second in the National Juvenile Inter-County championship five times in the last nine years. Glenn Towler (St. Anne’s) beat Kieran Mills (Collins) by 3&2 in the Juvenile Matchplay final on the same course where they both helped Cork to the 2016 Inter-County. Glenn Towler thereby appended the National Juvenile Matchplay title to the Munster Matchplay crown. Conor Bowdren, Eoin Keating, Iain Aherne and Cian Murphy were the other members of the latest successful Rebel County sextet. Evan Carry lost in the first round of the Matchplay but added the National Juvenile Matchplay Plate to his Juvenile Strokeplay win earlier in the year.
Tomorrow: The Year in Strokeplay
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