CONCLUDING our Review of the 2016 Season, John Manning pays particular attention to the National Inter-Counties last September as well as all the other outstanding national events.
Ladies & Gents Inter-Counties
At RGSC in September, Dublin completed the Ladies/Gents Inter-County double for the first time since 1991 at Lucan. Ger Ward was on the 1991 ladies side as well. Anthony Malone (2016 team manager) was on the 1991 Gents team.
The Dublin Ladies carded 571 to record their coming of age 21st victory, extending their lead on the all-time Roll of Honour. Ger Ward, Maree O'Toole and Sheelagh Elmes were members of the 1985 winning Dublin side and so have now equalled Eleanor Walsh's (Cork) record (1984-2015) for the longest gap between the first and most recent Inter-County winning appearance by an individual. Having played at Portmarnock in 2011, Siobhan Kealy now has two Inter-County winners’ medals. Ger Holland and Glenda Hoey earned their first gold medals for Dublin at RGSC. Ger Ward's 14 Inter-County winners’ medals equal the total of Ray Murphy and John Walsh in the Gents equivalent. Kildare scored 582 and finished second for the thirteenth occasion in the Ladies Inter-County championships, which is now the most all-time, outright. Marian Byrne Courtney has been on a round dozen of those teams. The Short Grass County Ladies have been runners-up six times in the last seven years.
Junior Smith helped the Dublin Gents to a team tally of 782 and a three stroke winning margin in the Gents Inter-County. Junior was securing a second Inter-County winners medal 33 years after he won his first (a new record), at Navan in 1983. John Ross Crangle, Keith Redmond, Stephen Murray, Tom O'Reilly and Gary Healy all grabbed their first National Inter-County winners’ medals. Dublin move to 17 Gents Inter-County wins, second place on the all-time list, four behind Cork. After four second places since 1999, Dublin recorded their first Gents Inter-County championship in 17 years and their maiden success in the new Millennium. Louth finished second in the Gents Inter-County championship for the second successive year and for the third time in all. Five of the Wee County team -Padraic Sarsfield, Ian Donnelly, Owen Smith, Barry Thornton and George Beardsley- also played in 2015. Sean Goggin completed the 2016 line-up. Wexford finished third in the Gents Inter-County Championship just as they did the last time the championship was played in Dublin in 2011. The 2012 champions attained a third podium finish in the Gents Inter-County championship in six years.
Waterford became the first team to ever retain the Gent's Inter-County second tier championship. Noel Farrell, Brian Farrell, Daniel Sullivan and Eddie Hennessy played on both the 2015 and 2016 victorious Waterford teams. Sean Hennebry, Stephen Costello came on board for the latest success. Clare have now finished first, second and third in the last three Gent's Inter County Championship Division B events.
Other National Events
There was further national success in May this year for 2015 Junior Strokeplay champion Paul O'Riordan who won the National Mixed Team Event for Cunnigar alongside Michael Aherne and Michelle O'Connor. Cunnigar’s 1 2/3 stroke victory was the Dungarvan outfit’s third win in the Mixed Team Event, two under the new scramble format and one under the old Stableford system. Cunnigar's return of 60 is the best winning total since the PJ Bell National Mixed Event switched to the Scramble arrangement. Cunnigar teams have finished in the top three six times in the last seven National Mixed Team Event finals. Lakeside's second place was the Templemore club's best finish in the Event since the win in 2007.
2016 was considered somewhat to be a low-key season for Chrissie Byrne, by her own lofty standards and up to mid-September, maybe. It’s all relative, mind! The St. Bridget’s star a was semi-finalist at Seapoint and finished fourth at St Stephens, beaten on a countback for second and third by sister Marian and Eleanor Walsh respectively. However, a sustained autumn surge saw Chrissie clinch the only two national adult titles available to her that she hadn’t previously won. Chrissie and Derek O'Toole (St. Bridgets) were the first Co. Kildare winners in the 46-year history of the PPUI National Mixed Foursomes. The pair’s +17 at Riverdale is the best winning score in the National Mixed Foursomes since 2008 (when Laura & Rory O'Hanrahan of Hillview fired +18 at Castletown. Chrissie Byrne is the fourth National Ladies Strokeplay champion (senior grade) to also win the National Mixed Foursomes -matching Eleanor Walsh, Tracey McGrath and Nancy Tuohy.
Margaret and Dean Courtney narrowly failed to be the first pair to win the National Mixed at their home course since Concepta Maddick and Gerry Rock four years ago in Seapoint. The Riverdale pair’s +15 total would have tied or won the National Mixed Foursomes every other year since 2012. Catherine McCreevy (Navan) and William Sheridan (Bellewstown) became the sixth pair in history to have won both the National Mixed Foursomes overall and the National Mixed Foursomes Best Gross. Catherine McCreevy has now won the Best Gross at the National Mixed Foursomes with three different partners - Frank Brady in 1991, Ian Farrelly in 2008 and Sheridan in 2016. That’s a record.
Fermoy faced Bruff in the National Senior Inter-Club semi-final for the second year in a row and avenged their 2015 defeat. The North Cork men went on to beat 2013 and 2014 winners St. Anne’s 6-3 in the decider. Fermoy had two former National Strokeplay champions in their inter-club ranks -Bryan Delaney and John Cahill. Parteen had one - Alan Bennis – in their team as they built on a 2015 semi-final slot to beat Deerpark 6.5-2.5 in the Intermediate/Junior Inter Club final. Deerpark finished runners-up in the National Inter/Junior Inter-Club tournament for the second time.
On October 29th in Bagenalstown, St. Bridget's became the first club from outside Co. Tipperary to win the National Ladies Pitch and Putt Inter-Club. St. Bridget's winning margin in the final against Lakeside (4.5-1.5) is the biggest in the short history of the National Ladies Pitch & Putt Inter-Club. Marian Courtney, Tara Dillon, Chrissie Byrne and Margaret Keogh made a triumphant return to Bagenalstown, where they all previously won the Leinster Inter-County with Kildare in 2008. Tara Dillon and Chrissie Byrne were previously members of the St. Bridgets team that won the National Mixed Team Event in 2008. Lakeside maintained Tipperary's strong record in the National Ladies Inter-Club, making it now two wins and two seconds for the Premier County.
On the rankings front Ger Ward will receive the PPUI National Ladies No. 1 ranked Player of the Year award for the ninth time in the New Year. John Walsh has now won the Gents equivalent on seven occasions.
Next Week we will have a look at the year at provincial level but for now we wish everyone an enjoyable New Year’s Eve as we all get set to ring in 2017.