2017 National Inter-County Championships Build-Up: Day One

A Profile of Ryston

2017 National Inter-County Championships Build-Up: Day One image


Ahead of playing host to the National Inter-County Championships this weekend, John Manning gives us a reflection on previous National events held at the Newbridge venue.


In 1960, a group of pioneers designed and built a Pitch & Putt course as part of the Irish Ropes Social Club in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. The design and layout has proved so good that much of it remains to the present day. Tee-boxes were grass mounds until 1976. Concrete teeing grounds were constructed for the 1976 National Gents Matchplay. Those concrete structures survived until 1998 when new surrounds were introduced for the National Ladies Strokeplay.


The Championship Committee of the Pitch & Putt Union of Ireland have 14 times before visited the Ryston course (previously Irish Ropes) for a National Championship or Competition. Irish Ropes first championship was over 40 years ago on July 22nd 1973.  Eamon Tully inspired Dublin to a total of 400 and a three-shot victory over Meath in Gent’s Inter-County (the ladies was a separate championship at this time).  The other members of the Dublin team were: Gus Carolan, Andy Doherty and Eamon O’Reilly.  It was the seventh of Dublin’s legendary seven in a row.   


Mick Forrest (Rocklodge) notched up the first leg of his 1976 Matchplay/Strokeplay double at Irish Ropes when he beat club-mate Joe Buckley 2&1 in the National Matchplay final on June 7th. The National Ladies Strokeplay was played in Newbridge on 10th September 1978. Margaret Hogan (Clara) retained her title with a return of 102, two ahead of Breda White (Tipperary Hills).  Jenny O’Donovan (Irish Ropes) beat Phil Allen (St. Anne’s) to win the Intermediate on 111 while Majestic’s Elaine Hannon took the junior on 119.  Ann McKeigue (Mallow) was Junior Runner-Up.


The National Gents Matchplay returned to Irish Ropes (this time sponsored by Sunday World) in 1982. In the June 7th final, Tommy Rusk (Royal Meath) beat John O’Leary (Carrigaline) by 6&5. The weather wasn’t the greatest for the Inter-County championships at Irish Ropes on the weekend of July 20nd & 21st 1985.  Dublin (Geraldine McLernon, Sheelagh Elmes, Marie Mallin, Maree O’Toole and Marie Mahony) were Ladies’ winners on 421. Meath were runners-up, nine shots back. The Dublin Gents team of David Poole, Derek Courtney, Anthony Malone, Sean Harkins and Liam Dunne equalled the record of 61 under par 371 to beat Meath by seven.


Irish Ropes hosted thejU-16 championships in 1988. Meath shot a team total of 432 to win the Inter-County for the second time, by one shot from Cork.  Eddie Lonergan (Tipperary Hills) won the Boys’ Strokeplay with 93 while Margaret Byrne (St. Bridget’s) took the Girls’ on 115. One year on, Irish Ropes was the venue for the National Mixed Foursomes (played for the last time with the backing of John Player).  On 24th September 1989, Michael Murphy and Ros O’Rourke (Crosshaven) shot +15 to win by one from Eddie Lonergan and Breda White (Tipperary Hills).


The Gents Strokeplay was decided at Irish Ropes on July 4th 1993.  Sean Downes (Stackallen) won the senior on 90, which was one clear of Anthony Lynch (Loughlinstown) and David Hayden (Old County).  Darren Collins (St. Anne’s) won a three way play-off for the Intermediate championship with St. Bridget’s club-mates David Coffey and Joseph Kelly, after a tie on 97. Clare Road’s Damien O’Connell shot 102 to win the Junior Championship by four from Paul Williams (Stackallen).  Dermot Canty (Parteen) carded 107 to be third.


The Lynch & Manning Ltd. National Ladies Strokeplay was played at Irish Ropes in 1998.  It was the first year of the reintroduced 54-hole format.  Bernadette Coffey won by four over Peggy Campbell after a three round 147.  Deerpark’s Margaret C Looney was Intermediate Champion on 169 (just a stroke clear of Kilbeggan’s Melinda Seery) while 181 secured Junior laurels for Phyllis Allen (Royal Meath) who had three to spare over Rita Garrigan (Trim).


Mark Millar and Bernadette Coffey will look back on Ryston (the course had been renamed in the interim) 2001 with great fondness.  Mark Millar retained his National Matchplay crown with a 3&2 final victory over Darren Collins (St. Anne’s).  Bernadette won the longest final in history (over Ann Hall at the 40th) to take the Ladies title for the second time inside three years.


The 2003 Inter-County Championships (sponsored by Hel-Mac Sound) were contested at Ryston on 6th/7th September. Cork (Frank Dineen 90, Chris Scannell 92, Ray Murphy 97, Frank O'Donoghue 98, John Walsh 99) posted a team aggregate of 55 under par 377 to head Limerick by nine shots. Kildare Ladies’ ((Tara Dillon 99, Marian Byrne 99, Chrissie Byrne 103, Margaret Byrne 105, Bernadette Coffey 108) total of 26 under par 406 was thirteen clear of Cork. The two-tier championships were in vogue at the time with divisional victories claimed by Tipperary Gents and Waterford Ladies.


The 2008 National Mixed Team Event at Ryston was claimed by a St. Bridget’s team of Ian Dillon, Chrissie Byrne, Paul Byrne and Tara Dillon. The Kilcullen quartet scored 168 points to finish seven ahead of Erry. Ryston co-hosted the 2009 National Scramble with neighbouring St. Bridgets. The Riverdale team of Con Clear, Billy Boyle and PJ Ryan returned 158 1/3 to beat Kilbeggan by two strokes.


The Gents Strokeplay returned to Newbridge on July 24th/25th 2010.  An exciting play-off in the Senior Championship resulted in a victory for Athgarvan’s Eddie Carey over John Walsh (Collins).  The pair had tied on 132 for 54 holes. Declan McCarron (Tralee) scored 141 in the Intermediate Championship to defeat Ciaran Boland (Tullamore) by two shots.   Daniel Clinton (Cement) clinched the Junior title by a brace from Aengus Coughlan (Ferbane).


Ryston have always been exceptional hosts with a strong emphasis on quality, on and off the course. One remembers a champagne celebration for the Organising Committee after the 2001 National Matchplay championships. All those travelling to the Inter-County championship have a treat in store.


Tomorrow: We preview the Ladies and Gents B Divisions this weekend.